Home | Dumb Mondays: NBA Video Games Are Unlucky

Dumb Mondays: NBA Video Games Are Unlucky

This is Dumb Mondays, starting the workweek off with silly facts or some of my opinions and predictions that you may or may not find interesting. This week I am sharing a dumb opinion and will be looking for and responding to your comments throughout the week.

The biggest video game convention of the year is just around the corner with E3 beginning in about three weeks. We might get a trailer, maybe an off-screen sneak peak, but usually the NBA video games at E3 get nothing more than some marketing buzzwords for features and a general idea of which direction this year’s game will be headed. Going into the second year of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releases for NBA 2K15 and NBA Live 15 I am again hoping for more than basic information, but I’m not expecting anything special. It did give me a dumb idea though, maybe NBA video games are a bit unlucky in comparison to other video games.

NBA Live 08: Chris Bosh

We know these games are developed annually, which comes with the normal limitation of innovation and bugs we see in all sports games, and other games in general that using the same developer for yearly releases. Where I think these games become unlucky is due to their release date. The North American release date for NBA video games has usually fallen on the first Tuesday in October. Add in time for patching up bugs in the newly released game, planning features for the following year, and maybe some time off for sleep-deprived developers, and the next game doesn’t realistically begin development for a few months after release.

NBA 2K14 Next Gen: Ray Allen

Add to that the timing of E3, and it becomes understandable why we see and hear so little about the games. Of course 2K and EA can whip up some screenshots or a CG teaser video using updated art assets, but I would be surprised if all the next game’s features were set in stone by the time E3 rolls around. So all 2K and EA can really offer at E3 is hype, and rarely anything concrete that gives a good impression of what the released game will be like.

Kyrie Irving during the NBA Live 14 Demonstration at E3 2013

I also think the release date hurts NBA video games too. Sports gamers usually got their first taste of new sports video games during the summer, with the releases of NCAA Football (well, not anymore) and Madden. A few weeks later sees the releases of soccer and NHL games. By the time the NBA release dates come around the gaming userbase as a whole is usually distracted by the big AAA games coming out each fall, or at least sick of sports games from the earlier releases. After NBA games there usually isn’t much in terms of simulation sports games being released, since MLB doesn’t release for months after.

NCAA Football 12 Graphics Screenshot

So, what do you think? Does the annual development cycle, lack of ability to fully show off and hype at E3, and being the last sports release of the fall negatively impact NBA video games? Or is this just a dumb idea since NBA 2K14 has dominated next gen sports game sales? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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I’m not sure that I’d call them unlucky, but they certainly do face some tough challenges that I believe a lot of gamers don’t take into consideration when they’re accusing developers of being lazy, incompetent, or uncaring. The timing makes sense given the start of the NBA season, but it’s definitely a harsh development schedule/cycle.