NBA 2K10: Ten Years of NBA 2K
: It's hard to believe that this year marks the ten year anniversary of the Dreamcast. I remember giddily anticipating the 9.9.99 release of what would be Sega's last hardware entry, if for no other reason than the release of NFL 2K, which still remains one of the most incredible sports games of all time. However, tucked just behind NFL 2K's September 1999 release was another sports game from the folks at Visual Concepts--NBA 2K, released in November of that year--which did nearly as much for basketball as its football brethren did for pigskin. Today, 2K announced a special anniversary edition version of its upcoming NBA 2K10--which, obviously, is the tenth game in the famed basketball series. To coincide with the announcement, we spoke with 2K's Vice President of Sports Development Jeff Thomas to get his thoughts on the history of the series, as well as what fans can expect from the limited edition version of 2K10.
GameSpot: This being the tenth anniversary of the NBA 2K series, let's take it back to the beginning. What do you remember about the development of NBA 2K?
Jeff Thomas: It was HARD! No, kidding aside, I remember being amazed at the power of the Dreamcast and what it was capable of doing. This was the start of it all.
GS: What was building the team like? This being the first basketball game you made, how much "NBA 101" was required in order to get the team up to speed?
JT: Building any development team is difficult but we were lucky to get people that had actual college basketball experience. I still hear the stories about taking "so and so" to the rim at the Purdue campus!
GS: What was the hardest thing to get right about the sport? What aspect of the game came easiest to you during development?
JT: The hardest thing about making any sports title is "the feel" . A game just has to feel right and that is a very difficult thing to accomplish. As far as easy goes, I am still waiting for that!
GS: At the time, Visual Concepts was riding high from the buzz surrounding NFL 2K's release with the launch of the Dreamcast. Were you worried that the NBA game would be lost by comparison?
JT: Of course NFL was in the limelight because it was the first one completed and with the popularity of football in this country, it was no doubt going to get the buzz. But we always knew that NBA was going to be an incredible game as well. All of the same technology that was driving NFL 2K was also driving NBA, and with the amount of drive the NBA team has it was only a matter of time before it ruled the NBA market.
GS: Leading up to the debut game's release in 1999, what was the atmosphere like at Visual Concepts? Was it competitive between the NFL and NBA teams? Friendly? Or was everyone just sort of buckled down and trying to get their product finished?
JT: Competition was always very high here at VC, but not between the NFL and NBA teams but between us and the competing products. The reason we have such a great game today is because of the driving force needed to beat the big company down the road.
GS: How much did you pay attention to the NBA videogame competition of the time, such as NBA Live or Midway's NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC back then?
JT: We looked at every basketball game ever made. NBA Jam gave us ideas; we even went back to games like Dr J. vs. Larry Bird, Double Dribble and Lakers vs. Celtics, one of my all-time favorites.
GS: Now that the series prepares for its tenth installments, what do you think have been the most important cornerstones of the NBA 2K series? Conversely, has there been a feature that you knew wasn't right and had to be either scrapped or improved quickly?
JT: The cornerstone for all of the NBA 2K series games has been the feel of the control. Running 60 frames per second is critical to how it feels and how responsive the game is. We did a feature that lasted a couple of years called 24/7, it was always kind of an "out there" feature and never well received. It ended up being scrapped, but you never know what the future will bring?
GS: What will be in the Limited Edition of NBA 2K10?
JT: Here's what the anniversary edition will include:
• NBA 2K10 video game (X360 or PS3 only)
• Numbered 2K Sports game storage locker with combination lock
• Exclusive McFarlane Kobe Bryant figurine
• Exclusive 2K Sports Kobe Bryant poster designed by Shepard Fairey's Studio No. 1
• NBA 2K10 Anniversary video exploring the history of the NBA 2K franchise
• Access to the Gold Room, NBA 2K10's VIP online lobby
GS: We understand there will be an NBA 2K 10th anniversary DVD. What can fans expect from the movie?
JT: It is a retrospective of the NBA 2Kfranchise over the past 10 years told through the filter of our various cover athletes over the years. The video takes a look at each iteration of the NBA 2K series and its respective cover athlete. The video was put together by the NBA and is a mash up of live action NBA footage, NBA 2K gameplay footage, behind-the-scenes content and other game assets told in an entertaining narrative style. All told, the video is nearly 25 minutes in length.
GS: Folks who purchase the anniversary edition will also have access to the Gold Room, a VIP online lobby. Will there be any sort of special content or tournaments for LE-owners?
JT: Yes, the Gold Room will be a place where Anniversary Edition owners and 2K Sports VIP's can come find a game away from the maddening crowds in the public lobbies. Exact plans have not been nailed down yet, but it would be fair to expect a certain amount of VIP events to be happening in the Gold Room once the game launches.
GS: Finally, how much is the anniversary edition version of NBA 2K10 going to cost and when will it be released?
JT: The Anniversary Edition will be $99.99 MSRP and will release day and date with the standard edition, on Tuesday, October 6.
GS: Thanks for your time, Jeff.