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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: The Dumbing Down of MyTEAM

Monday Tip-Off: The Dumbing Down of MyTEAM

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 thoughts on the dumbing down of MyTEAM in recent NBA 2K games, and how it’s affecting the mode.

I’ll occasionally see a comment on Twitter or Reddit to the effect of “Who even plays MyTEAM?” It’s your standard “I don’t like it, therefore it sucks and no one else likes it either” rationale that’s all too common among toxic gamers, but it comes off as especially ridiculous when you’re talking about a mode like MyTEAM. After all, its popularity rivals MyCAREER and its connected modes, and thanks to the content that comes through all season long, it makes Take-Two a lot of money. It is possible to play without spending any money, of course, but many who do spend, spend big.

I like the idea of modes like MyTEAM and Ultimate Team. I never thought they’d be for me, but I’ve had fun with them in NBA 2K and NBA Live over the course of this generation. I’ve generally avoided spending money and in NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20 in particular, I’ve still managed to pick up some really good cards. However, there are problems with MyTEAM, and it’s safe to say that it’s affecting the quality and appeal of the mode. On the whole, it feels like 2K has been dumbing the mode down with the special cards they introduce every year, along with a lack of attention to detail. The mode hasn’t been completely ruined, but it could be in much better shape than it is.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

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 what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to look like in the not too distant future.

In recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, we’ve been discussing old basketball games and reflecting on our nostalgia. We’ve talked about the different nostalgic phases that we go through, as well as some of the games that influenced the way we approach the virtual hardwood. We also recorded a big two part episode for the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, which was a lot of fun. As much as I enjoy playing the latest game and other recent releases, I also like to revisit old favourites and reflect on the history of the genre. It’s one of the reasons I do Wayback Wednesday every week.

However, I’ve recently been wondering what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to be like for recent titles as they get older. Will they inspire the same kind of fondness that we older gamers have for an NBA Jam or NBA Live 95, or will they be discarded and dismissed? Will we, and especially the younger gamers who are growing up with these titles, see fit to revisit them the same way we like to dust off the old titles that we love? Perhaps most importantly, will it even be viable to revisit those games and their experiences that captivated us for hours on end? My feeling is that nostalgia for basketball games is going to look and play out somewhat differently moving forward.

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NLSC Podcast #315: Old Games & Old Habits

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? 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: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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Wayback Wednesday: Christmas on the Virtual Hardwood

Wayback Wednesday: Christmas on the Virtual Hardwood

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 Christmas content in basketball video games.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings, basketball gamers! I hope you’re enjoying the festive season, and are looking forward to some of the marquee games that are set to tip off this Christmas Day. Since this week’s Wayback Wednesday has fallen on Christmas Day itself, I thought it would be fun to look back at how the occasion has been celebrated on the virtual hardwood. After all, a lot of video games have included Christmas content as Easter eggs – if that’s not too ironic a turn of phrase – and there are even seasonal games, such as the classic Holiday Lemmings.

Basketball games tend to have a more straightforward approach to the matter, but there’s still some interesting history with the virtual hardwood and the holiday season. With that in mind, and in the spirit of the season, let’s deck the halls, rock around the Christmas tree, and take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

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 we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

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 the increasing difficulty of going back to an older basketball title.

Recently, I looked into producing a couple of ideas that I’d been kicking around for Wayback Wednesday for some time: going back and finishing 100 Challenges in NBA Live 15’s Ultimate Team, and finishing 50 Challenges in NBA Live 16 LUT. Once the NBA Live 15 server shutdown was announced, I knew that I’d have to get onto the first idea as soon as possible, as it would no longer be doable once online support ended. I drafted the introduction to the piece, fired up NBA Live 15, and started a game. I was intent on making a feature out of some unfinished business.

Only, that’s as far as I was able to get. I couldn’t finish the game, and after taking a glance at NBA Live 16, I likewise decided against going ahead with those features. Granted, it was partly due to calculating how much time it was going to take and deciding that it’d be too many hours of repetitive play that I could be spending on other projects. It was doable of course, as long as I put in the time every day before the shutdown, but the prospect wasn’t appealing. I came to the realisation that it was no longer as easy to go back and play old games, compared to previous generations. For me at least, there’s just too much difficulty in going back for an extended time.

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The Friday Five: 5 Outdated Mechanics in MyTEAM

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 five mechanics in MyTEAM that I believe are outdated.

There was a time when I thought that I’d never have anything to do with the team building/card collecting modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K. It seemed like a good idea for a mode, but something for other games to enjoy. However, Ultimate Team has been the mode I’ve played the most of in NBA Live on this generation, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve dabbled with MyTEAM as well, but I’ve mostly been occupied with MyCAREER and its connected modes. I got some great cards in NBA 2K19, but I was too focused on getting my player to the Hall of Fame to really play with them.

I’ve spent more time with MyTEAM in NBA 2K20, and it’s been fun so far. The developers working on the mode made some welcome changes, such as making it far easier to unlock the Auction House, adding the daily login bonuses, and generally allowing us to build decent collections at a steady pace without paying money. That last point in particular is important, especially in a mode that is a big money-maker for 2K. Still, as much as I like MyTEAM and have enjoyed getting into it more this year, I can’t help feeling that some of the mode’s mechanics are outdated. They don’t ruin the experience, but I’d consider them drawbacks in an otherwise fantastic mode.

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NLSC Podcast #299: What Basketball Gamers Want

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Episode #299 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three joins me again as we react to the recent announcement that the NBA Live 15 servers will soon be shutting down, and have an in-depth discussion about what basketball gamers want out of the hobby.

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shutting down as of December 1st, 2019. We react to the timing of the announcement compared to the NBA Live 14 shutdown, and reflect a little on NBA Live 15 itself. This leads to some thoughts on why we dust off older titles, and sometimes seeing them in a new light (and sometimes not). Our feature discussion this week is a deep dive into what basketball gamers want; not just expectations of the virtual hardwood and blacktop, but also our relationship with developers, and approach to game design. We also talk about toxic attitudes, and how we clash with one another over what we want out of the basketball gaming experience.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on this week’s topic? What do you want out of basketball video games? 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.

NBA Live 15 Servers Shutting Down December 1st

NBA Live 15 Servers Shutting Down December 1st

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shut down as of December 1st, 2019. In a post over on Reddit, the Dev Team wrote:

As of December 1, 2019, NBA LIVE 15 will be retired. Until December 1, 2019, you will still be able to enjoy NBA LIVE 15 and use any existing Ultimate Team™ Points. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of NBA LIVE 15 and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.

Online support for NBA Live 14 just ended on the first of this month, following an announcement back in June. If you have any unfinished business with online modes such as Ultimate Team, or if you’re a content creator who needs screenshots and footage, I’d suggest getting on that ASAP.

It’s interesting that the NBA Live 15 servers are being shut down so soon after NBA Live 14, and with less notice. EA’s online support for those older releases has already extended far longer than usual however, and it’s highly unlikely that there are enough gamers still playing NBA Live 15 regularly enough to justify the use of those resources.

With the cancellation of NBA Live 20, it remains to be seen when EA will pull the plug on the NBA Live 16 servers. I would assume that the servers for NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19 will remain active for some time yet, especially with the series currently on another hiatus. I’ll be sure to post any further information as it’s made available, but in the meantime, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as take the discussion to the NLSC Forum.

Monday Tip-Off: The Final Days of Last Year’s Games

Monday Tip-Off: The Final Days of Last Year's Games

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 final thoughts on NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 as we enter the final days leading up to NBA 2K20’s release.

Cue “The Final Countdown” by Europe, as we’re just days away from the release of NBA 2K20! As for NBA Live 20…well, we’re still waiting to find out what’s going to happen with EA Sports’ long-running series. In any event, the impending release of NBA 2K20 means that we’re days away from NBA 2K19 and NBA Live 19 officially becoming last year’s games. That is to say, they’ll no longer be the most up to date sim-oriented NBA titles, and the community’s interest will shift to the game set in the forthcoming 2020 season.

It’s a strange period of limbo in the annual basketball gaming cycle. If you’re done with last year’s games, you’ll be itching to get your hands on the new release. If you still have unfinished business, you’ll likely be furiously playing them to achieve some semblance of closure before moving on to this year’s title. After all, it’s not easy to go back and pick up where you left off when you’re hooked on a new game that will itself be outmoded a year from now. With that in mind, as we find ourselves in the final days before NBA 2K20 officially succeeds NBA 2K19 and NBA Live 19, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the past year of basketball gaming, and to look ahead.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I’m Putting MyCAREER Aside

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 breaks down the five reasons that I’m putting MyCAREER aside in NBA 2K20.

Since finishing my second season of MyCAREER in NBA 2K19, I’ve played a grand total of one game in my third. I had still been dabbling with online play, but after a particularly demoralising session, I decided to play the season opener. The new roster was interesting to play with, and the thought of new goals such as reaching 10,000 career points and completing a threepeat has me considering a third campaign. I’d be simulating a bulk of the games – especially with the release of NBA 2K20 a month away – but I’m thinking about it. After that, however, I’m done with MyCAREER.

I know, I know. I said that almost a year ago, and ended up going further than I ever have before in MyCAREER. At the time I thought I was done, just as I do now. The difference is that after another year of playing MyCAREER, I truly feel ready to put it aside. My experience was significantly more positive in NBA 2K19, so I’m not ending my time with the mode on such a sour note. Furthermore, looking ahead to the release of NBA 2K20, I have other incentives to move away from the single player career experience. If you’ve spent a lot of time in MyCAREER these past few years and are similarly looking to move on, perhaps you can relate to my reasons for doing so.

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Monday Tip-Off: Should NBA Live Be More Like NBA 2K?

James Harden shoots in NBA Live 19

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 an interesting and important question that continues to be hotly debated: should NBA Live be more like NBA 2K?

As NBA Live continues to rebuild and re-establish itself in the face of NBA 2K’s dominance, there is a debate among basketball gamers as to the best direction for the game. There are gamers who would prefer that NBA Live remains distinctly different to NBA 2K in focus, style, and approach, and generally reject any suggestions that Live should borrow ideas from 2K. Conversely, as noted here on Reddit, there are others who would prefer that NBA Live essentially copy NBA 2K, but for a few details here and there (such as avoiding 2K’s approach to microtransactions).

Naturally, between those two extremes are more nuanced suggestions about NBA Live doing its own thing, while also borrowing some of NBA 2K’s best ideas (and in some cases, putting its own spin on them). To that end, of course, there’s still debate as to which ideas should be borrowed, how closely NBA Live should mimic what NBA 2K is doing, and to what extent any 2K concepts should be reworked. It leaves us with the question of whether or not NBA Live should be more like NBA 2K, or as the thread over on Reddit put it, “NBA 2K re-skinned” rather than NBA Live. For me, the answer is yes…and no.

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The Friday Five: 5 Modes I Haven’t Played Much

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 takes a look at five game modes that I haven’t played much of over the years.

There’s almost too much to do in basketball video games these days. The amount of modes in NBA 2K in particular caters to a wide variety of tastes; whether you prefer competitive online play, card collecting and team building, living the life of an NBA player, or sitting in the GM’s seat, you can find something to play. Needless to say, this is a good problem to have. It makes older titles look even more primitive, and as we move forward, stresses the importance of NBA Live being able to improve upon the depth and variety of its modes.

While it’s a good problem to have, a bevy of deep modes can leave us struggling to get the most out of a title before the next game is released. As I’ve discussed, it’s a problem that’s further exacerbated when there are multiple hoops titles that you want to play. I’ve spent many hours playing basketball games over the years, and I’ve built up a substantial collection of titles. However, I can’t say that I’ve been able to get the most out of all them, or spent as much time with some of the modes as I would have liked. Glancing at the modes in recent games, or looking back at older titles, I can think of at least five modes that I feel I’ve neglected.

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