Monday Tip-Off: Where Is The Preview Season?

Paul George with the layup in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

If you’re a regular listener of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll have heard me describe the current time of year as a very quiet period. After the initial flurry of deals, all of the major free agent signings are over and done with. There’s been Summer League play, of course, but here in the basketball gaming community, we’re anxiously awaiting the start of the preview season. With NBA Live 17 being pushed back to early 2017, we’re obviously not going to hear much about it for some time. NBA 2K17 will be dropping in mid September, but details on that release are similarly scarce.

That isn’t anything too out of the ordinary, though. Even when both titles have been released around the same time, Visual Concepts has often waited until almost the last minute before finally revealing the juiciest details on the next NBA 2K game. I would suggest that a lot of the time, the information has been worth waiting for, and the success of the series certainly speaks for itself. At the same time, I miss the days of getting a steady flow of information, and feeling really hyped about the upcoming releases.

As such, I find myself asking: where is the preview season?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the basketball video game preview season was filled with developer blogs, screenshots, gameplay videos, interviews, and other exciting glimpses at the upcoming titles. To be fair, it’s not as though we don’t get anything like that these days. After all, last year we had Sean O’Brien and Leftos on the NLSC Podcast to discuss NBA Live 16 and NBA 2K16 respectively, both games released preview media before launch, and we did learn more than a couple of things through developer posts. However, it feels as though there are longer breaks in between noteworthy updates, rather than a consistent stream of news.

James Harden dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K16

The fact that NBA 2K17 is the only game that will be coming out in the immediate future certainly exacerbates that feeling. If NBA Live 17 were coming out around the same time, we’d probably at least have alternating previews of the two games, and therefore a shorter wait in between hearing something about an upcoming basketball title. That obviously isn’t the case this time around, and given that Visual Concepts does tend to wait to until almost the last minute to start dropping media and big chunks of information, we’re left with the prospect of a quiet, boring preview season.

As it stands, we do know a few things about NBA 2K17. The pre-order bonuses have been announced, and vague teasers about various enhancements, plus a mobile app for face scanning, were revealed on the season finale of NBA 2KTV. We can also safely assume that it will feature similar controls and gameplay, and retain staples of the series such as MyCAREER, MyLEAGUE and MyGM, MyTEAM, and so on. The game has been available to pre-order for a couple of months now, with a few sites offering good discounts on the PC version in particular. Still, that’s about all we know, and the game is just a couple of months away from release.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that the lack of information is cause for concern, or a sign that there will be major problems with NBA 2K17. Visual Concepts obviously has a very good track record with NBA 2K, to the point where they can get pre-orders before they’ve even said all that much about the upcoming game. They’re in a fantastic position when it comes to market share and reputation, so it’s not a situation where they need to win over the crowd, or necessarily generate a lot of hype. Their brand is strong, and with NBA Live 17 being pushed back, they probably have even less incentive to release information and preview media before they’re ready.

Kobe Bryant shoots the basketball in NBA 2K16

That’s all well and good, and again, I must stress that I do expect NBA 2K17 to be another strong release for Visual Concepts. I just want to start finding out about all the improvements and additions, and begin to feel genuinely hyped for it.

A trailer for the Legend Edition featuring NBA 2K16 footage isn’t going to get me hyped. A list of all the different pre-order bonuses isn’t going to cut it, either. The tidbits on the NBA 2KTV season finale were interesting – even if we had to sit through some truly terrible jokes from Ronnie 2K to get to them – but that was a few weeks ago, and there’s still so much we’d like to know about the game. Even if you’re confident that you’ll be satisfied with NBA 2K17, or indeed, blown away by it, the preview season should be getting you pumped up to play it right now.

For me, that’s the problem with having such a quiet, almost nonexistent preview season. I’m interested in NBA 2K17 – and for the matter, NBA Live 17 – and I intend on picking up both games when they’re available. I’m optimistic about the improvements that could be made to them, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on them, when the time comes. Even so, I yearn for that feeling of excitement and anticipation that comes from learning about what’s gone into developing the upcoming games, and catching glimpses of new features in action. I miss that steady release of info, which gives us all something to talk about week to week.

Kawhi Leonard drives in NBA 2K16

As I said, we did have a preview season last year, though it had several lulls. EA Sports obviously won’t be talking about anything basketball related apart from NBA Live Mobile for a while yet, but there should be plenty to get hyped up about with NBA 2K17. Hopefully we’re not too far off getting an abbreviated preview season for NBA 2K17, jam-packed with exciting information, and tantalising videos and screenshots. Pre-order bonuses and hashtags are all well and good, but I’m eager to find out the juicy details, and I must admit that I’m feeling a little impatient at this point.

I suppose in some respects, that’s an encouraging sign for me personally. Being a long-time basketball gamer that has covered upcoming releases for over a decade here at the NLSC, it would be easy for me to grow bored and jaded as far as the preview season is concerned. In some respects, my attitude towards it probably has changed somewhat. Experience has taught me to take things with a grain of salt, and to reserve judgement until I get my hands on a release. However, I remain passionate about and interested in basketball gaming, so I still feel invested in the preview season.

From the perspective of someone running a website about basketball gaming, a steady flow of news and previews also facilitates the development of new content, and makes it easier to start discussions within the community. At the end of the day though, I’d like us all to be receiving regular updates and previews that get us hyped to play the upcoming games, to the point where the current games feel dated even though we’ve yet to get our hands on their successors. NBA Live 17 is still a ways off, but there are only eight weeks left in NBA 2K17’s preview season. With any luck, Visual Concepts won’t leave us in the dark for too much longer.

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July 19, 2016 8:07 am

Thank you for the enjoyable article! 🙂
I have noticed year or two ago too that 2K is some tricky to open preorders without dropping a list of features (a cat in a sack how saying here) and for me it’s strange to guess how many preorders they have from blinded as well.

For example, EA is always fair to its buyers in this case (not only NBA, but FIFA, NHL, Madden too) in this year too.

July 19, 2016 11:56 pm

Off topic, but… I always love the screenshots on each article.