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Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how previews of NBA 2K21 Next Gen have inspired cynicism for me, rather than excitement.

When the NBA 2K21 Next Gen trailer dropped, I was compelled to post a few Tweets outlining my initial impressions. As you can probably gather from that thread, as well as comments I’ve made in our Forum and on the NLSC Podcast, I wasn’t blown away by the trailer, or pumped up about the game. If you follow me on Twitter, take part in our Forum, read my articles, or listen to our Podcast, you’ll probably also know that I’m not the biggest fan of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, either. My disappointment with NBA 2K21 and other recent releases has set the table for some Next Gen cynicism.

Thinking back to the release of NBA 2K14 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I don’t remember feeling quite as cynical. It’s unfortunate, as I’d prefer not to feel that way. I don’t want my content to come across as jaded and overwhelmingly negative, but beyond that, as an avid basketball gamer, I want to enjoy my hobby and look forward to new games when they’re on the horizon. As NBA 2K21 Next Gen looms and we get our first glimpses and insights into the forthcoming game, my cynicism definitely outpaces my optimism in a way that it didn’t seven years ago. Today, I’m reflecting upon that, and how things have changed over the course of a generation.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at ten more familiar faces who found themselves back in familiar places.

Just as there are have been several familiar faces that ended up in strange places, there are more familiar faces who made it back to familiar places than I can possibly fit into just one list of ten! To that end, I’m also making this spinoff topic an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday. As I previously noted, these homecomings can be just as interesting as the strange stints of well-known players, as they can also end up flying under the radar and being forgotten due to being unremarkable returns. In other cases, it’s the original stint with a team that is overlooked.

Either way, they’re fun to look back on. We can obviously do that by going back and watching old games, but it’s also possible to revisit these tenures through the virtual hardwood. I’ve grown quite fond of referring to basketball video games as interactive almanacs and time capsules to the point where I’m probably overusing the expression. It is quite apt though, and with that in mind, I’m using video games to demonstrate these examples of familiar faces back in familiar places. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NBA 2K Developers Taking Roles At EA Sports

NBA 2K Developers Taking Roles At EA Sports

I’ve always been a bit leery about reporting on personnel moves at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, but today has brought some significant news regarding two now-former NBA 2K developers. Gameplay producer Scott O’Gallagher and senior producer Rob Jones have taken their talents to EA Sports, in as yet unannounced roles.

OG Tweeted out a short clip revealing his move, and his Twitter bio has been updated to include the title Creative Director at EA Sports. Presumably he’ll be working on NBA Live, but that hasn’t been officially confirmed. As reported by Operation Sports, Jones took on a senior producer role at EA three months ago, and has recently updated his Twitter handle to remove references to 2K.

Once again, presumably the former NBA 2K developers will now be working on NBA Live, which is set to miss its second straight season. Rob Jones was a long-time member of the NBA 2K team, while Scott O’Gallagher joined the team for NBA 2K15, after previously working for EA Sports on NBA Live 14. It would seem unusual to bring them in to work on other franchises, though again, there’s been no official word on their roles at EA.

If we’re to assume they’ve been brought in to work on NBA Live, then that’s certainly promising news. It suggests that NBA Live is far from permanently canned, and that EA are looking to invest in its future by rebuilding the development team with people who had prominent roles with the highly successful NBA 2K series. There’s not much else to go on right now, but if any further developments present themselves, we’ll be sure to cover them in due course. In any case, congratulations to Scott and Rob on their new gigs! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and join in the discussion here in the Forum.

NLSC Podcast #337: Playing Your Cards Right

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #337 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As the NBA 2K21 demo looms, we’ve received an insight into MyTEAM with the latest developer blog. Much of this week’s show is spent providing a comprehensive breakdown of the blog, which delivered some promising news. We also offer up some final speculation ahead of the demo’s release, though we’re keeping our expectations low as far as its scope is concerned. With the launch of NBA 2K21 Next Gen happening a couple of months into the Current Gen version’s life cycle, we also talk about our plans for the latter. Other topics include Ante-Up, MyTEAM pack odds, the positives and negatives of regulation in the Auction House, and the oldest releases that we could feasibly play regularly again.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Received Surprising Updates

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five lists five times that basketball games received surprising updates.

These days, basketball games receive more updates than ever before. Official patches are more frequent and numerous. Content updates, from current rosters and new player faces, to MyPLAYER clothing and MyTEAM challenges and cards, are also pushed through all season long. At some point however, these updates will cease. Developers have to move on to next year’s title after all, and there’s only so much that can be addressed in patches. New content beyond the NBA Finals, and certainly for a game that’s over a year old, is quite rare.

It’s not unprecedented, however. There are extenuating circumstances, such as when the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 resulted in NBA Live 10 being updated for the 2011 season. On top of that, there are times when video games receive content that we simply wouldn’t expect because it doesn’t seem feasible due to technical or licensing limitations. It’s a nice surprise when a title does receive new content or a fix that seemed unlikely, though at the same time, it’s difficult not to approach some of these unexpected updates with a certain amount of cynicism. Nevertheless, here are five times that games received updates that were surprising for one reason or another.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 4)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 4)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at yet more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

Just when you thought I was done talking about familiar faces in strange places, here is part four in an ongoing series of Wayback Wednesday articles! Not all of these players are Hall of Famers or even perennial All-Stars, but they are nevertheless significant and recognisable, thereby qualifying as familiar faces. They’re also players that we grew accustomed to seeing play for one or two teams in particular, so the strange places they ended up in do make for a jarring sight, both in real life and on the virtual hardwood.

Once again, I’m looking at these familiar faces in strange places through the lens of basketball video games, in part because that’s obviously what we cover here at the NLSC, but also because it emphasises how games like NBA Live and NBA 2K in particular act as time capsules and interactive almanacs. From past champions and the glory days of the game’s brightest stars, to the forgotten and overlooked stints I’m recalling here, those memories come flooding back upon firing up old favourites. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NBA Live 16 Servers Shutting Down October 19th

NBA Live 16 Servers Shutting Down

The NBA Live 16 servers will be shutting down on October 19th 2020 at 11 AM EST, as per a new in-game notification. Upon the shutdown, all online content such as Ultimate Team, Head 2 Head, and LIVE Pro-Am will no longer be available.

As usual, my advice would be to wrap up any unfinished business between now and the shutdown. This includes acquiring Trophies/Achievements that require online connectivity, LUT challenges, and if you’re a content creator, getting video and screenshots of features that will soon be unavailable.

EA Sports has been shutting down the servers for older NBA Live games over the past twelve months, as the number of gamers still playing them has continued to dwindle. As it stands, NBA Live 14, NBA Live 15, and now NBA Live 16 will have all had online support for over five years by the time their servers are shutdown. This is far longer than usual, and it remains to be seen if NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19 will receive similar service. The cancellation of NBA Live 20 and NBA Live 21 may indeed result in the extension of their online support.

Thanks to Pavel for the heads up on the impending shutdown of the NBA Live 16 servers! Once again, be sure to complete any unfinished business ASAP, as October is only a couple of months away.

NLSC Podcast #327: Gonna Make You Sweat

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Episode #327 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The PlayStation 5 reveal event brought us an Announcement Trailer for NBA 2K21, which gives us plenty to talk about this week! We recap and react to the trailer featuring Zion Williamson, and a whole lot of sweat. In addition to highlighting the parts that appealed to us, we also discuss our concerns, along with the expectations it’s given us for next gen. We also speculate whether the PC version of NBA 2K21 will be a next gen port, or last gen as was the case with NBA 2K14. The trustworthiness of developer blogs and preview media is another issue we’re going to be mindful of this preview season, as we reflect on past controversies. We also consider the impact of next gen NBA 2K21 on the future of NBA Live, and what we can expect from last gen NBA 2K moving forward.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

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. This week, I’m tipping things off by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at some more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

As I said in my first Wayback Wednesday article covering this topic, there’s definitely something oddly fascinating in seeing familiar faces in strange places. We often claim that we wish that those stints didn’t happen or that we could forget all about them, yet they’re burned into our memories. It’s hard to forget something that looks strange and out of place, and that certainly describes the image of players wearing the uniform of a team other than the one we associate them with the most. The time capsule-like nature of video games helps us to remember – and also replay – these unusual stints.

I mentioned that there were more examples than the ten I covered in my first article, and to that end, I have another ten to share today. This time, not all of the players were perennial All-Stars, but they are familiar names who ended up in strange places. In fact, a couple of these stints were so brief that the only way to experience them again on the virtual hardwood is to load very specific roster saves – assuming that you still have them, of course – or by recreating them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on the right direction for NBA Live.

Needless to say, the past decade has been tough for NBA Live. Through cancelled titles and skipped years, the series has seen only five releases during that span. There have been promising aspects and good ideas present in those five games, and it could be argued that at least a couple of titles have been solid, but EA Sports has failed to move the needle. NBA Live is still languishing far behind where it needs to be as a viable alternative to NBA 2K and the enormous gulf in sales speaks volumes. NBA 2K has its issues, but NBA Live hasn’t been able to capitalise on gamer frustration.

The good news is that the door hasn’t been slammed shut on NBA Live. Thanks to a combination of readily apparent potential and 2K squandering goodwill, there is still interest in seeing NBA Live return to its former glory. Unfortunately, the series’ steps towards reaching that goal haven’t been as large as many of us would’ve liked, and one of the main reasons for that is the direction of the series. More specifically, this includes both the particular choices that have been made, and the tendency to change direction too often. NBA Live needs to have the right focus moving forward, but that raises the question: what is the right direction for NBA Live to take?

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Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on going digital with basketball games, and making that move before I needed to.

These days, the PC version of NBA 2K is exclusively available as a digital release. Even if you happen to find a physical copy – and they do exist in some regions – it just amounts to a card with a Steam key. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. On the plus side, digital games save shelf space, and because developers don’t need to press discs, distribution is quicker and cheaper. In a niche demographic such as PC basketball gaming, that’s an important factor in companies seeing the platform as viable and less of a hassle to release on.

The downside is that we need to download everything when we want to install the game. Depending on the quality of our connection and the size of any data limits on our Internet plan, that may not be an ideal scenario. Digital releases are also at risk of being removed from platforms like Steam, whereas physical copies obviously remain in circulation. Beyond convenience and availability, there’s just something satisfying about having a physical copy that you can hold in your hands or display on a shelf. We don’t always have a lot of choice, especially on PC these days, but I actually found myself going digital with basketball games before it was necessary.

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Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m reflecting on how video games mark different NBA milestones, and how it dates them.

On several occasions, I’ve mentioned that video games serve as wonderful time capsules for the NBA. They’re a snapshot of the league at the time they’re released, preserving the rosters, team branding, and the rules and formats of the era. When you revisit an old NBA video game, you’re often reminded of players’ brief and forgotten tenures with certain teams, “What If” scenarios and lineups that never lived up to the hype, and the jerseys and logos that you both loved and hated. In a way, old games can act as interactive almanacs, and are a fun way to revisit NBA history.

With that in mind, basketball video games preserve different eras and milestones in the real NBA as much as they’re a timeline of gaming and technology. In many of my Wayback Wednesday features, as well as my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live articles, I’ve reflected on how various titles have represented an evolution in the genre, and the improvements that are noticeable from year to year. On this occasion, I’m looking at how they represent NBA milestones and significant changes in the league, as well as the way those events make them dated. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Things in 5 of My Least Favourite Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of the five best things in five of my least favourite basketball video games.

Some Friday Five topics end up being an ongoing, open-ended series, while others are covered as a two-part series, back-to-back. This is an example of the latter. Last week, I talked about five of the worst things found in five of my all-time favourite basketball games. The obvious sequel to that feature is a list of the five best aspects in five of my all-time least favourite hoops titles. I’ve also realised that I wrote a couple of similar Friday Five features going on five years ago, but these lists are more personal, and of course, new games have come out and I’ve remembered other things since then.

Just as the best basketball games that become our favourites have their flaws, games that we end up disliking usually have at least one or two good features or ideas. If nothing else, they’re concepts with potential that we’d like to see executed better, or indeed, implemented in a much better game. With any luck, these modes and features will stick around long enough to be enjoyed in a superior title, or be adapted and adopted by the competition, as the case may be. Unfortunately, some of them do fall by the wayside, and we never get to really enjoy them. Without any further ado, here are five of the best things in games that rank among my least favourite.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at some trivia for NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10.

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s strange to tip off a year with a retro feature, but it is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays we go way back. Speaking of which, as part of the lead up to the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19, I posted a couple of articles containing trivia facts about NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08, and NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09. I’d intended to do the same thing this year with NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10, ahead of the release of NBA Live 20. Of course, NBA Live 20 was ultimately cancelled, so I didn’t get an opportunity to do so back in September.

Looking back, I’m certainly glad I didn’t run it pre-emptively while we waited for that announcement! However, it seems like a waste of a good Wayback Wednesday idea to let it go, and of course, it all ties in to the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content that we’re doing despite the series going on hiatus once again. With that in mind, here are the trivia facts I would’ve originally shared to celebrate the release of the third NBA Live game with a year ending in zero. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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