NBA 2K is a series of basketball sports simulation video games developed by Visual Concepts and released annually since 1999. The premise of the series is to emulate the sport of basketball, and more specifically, the National Basketball Association.
The series was originally published by Sega Sports. Beginning with 2005's NBA 2K6, the series is currently published by 2K Sports. As of 2021, the series consists of twenty-three main installments and several spinoff titles across eighteen different platforms. An official eSports league, the NBA 2K League, launched in 2018.
Each installment in the NBA 2K series emulates the National Basketball Association, and present slight improvements over the previous installments. As such, gameplay simulates a typical game of basketball, with the player controlling an entire team or a select player; objectives coincide with the rules of basketball and presentation resembles actual televised NBA games. Various game modes have been featured in the series, allowing for gameplay variety. Numerous elements of the games feature customizable options. Each game features the teams and players from the current NBA season; historic NBA teams and players have also been featured, as have EuroLeague teams and (starting with NBA 2K20) WNBA teams. Fictional players and teams can also be created and compiled.
A staple of the series is its career mode, which has been described as a sports-themed role-playing video game. ESPN NBA Basketball was the first game in the series to feature such a mode, but it wasn't until NBA 2K10 and its successors that the mode became a more integral part of the series. The mode was initially titled 24/7, before being changed to MyPlayer, and settling on MyCareer. The modes center on the basketball career of the player's created player; the player customizes several aspects of their player and plays through their career in the NBA. Key events in the player's career are depicted, such as the draft and their retirement ceremony. A storyline is often present in the modes, and high school and college-level basketball has also been depicted. The player upgrades their player's attributes as they play, and can participate in off-court activities.
Another mainstay of the series is a mode allowing the player to assume control of an NBA franchise, acting as general manager. The mode has been featured in numerous NBA 2K games and is often titled Association; the most recent games in the series feature the MyGM and MyLeague modes. In the modes, the player controls virtually all aspects of a team, rather than just playing games with the team. As the player simulates through seasons, they must satisfy the needs of the team's personnel and the owner.
MyTeam mode, which was introduced in NBA 2K13, focuses on building a team of players and competing against other players' teams online. The player's primary venue for acquiring players for their team is card packs; the player purchases a card pack, which features random items the player can use in the mode, including players. In addition to compiling a select group of players, the player can also customize their team's jerseys and court, among other things. The game mode progressed even further on NBA 2K19, with a MyTeam tournament between the best Xbox and PS4 players for a prize of $250,000 occurring. Other online-focused modes have also been featured in the series, such as Pro-Am, which focuses on players building a team together with their custom players.
In addition to regulation NBA games, street basketball has been featured in numerous games in the series. Created players and real players can be used in such modes; additionally, some celebrities have made appearances as playable characters in the series. In more recent games, the street basketball modes are titled Blacktop and MyPark. Blacktop is structured in the typical style of street basketball. MyPark consists of an open area filled with players who can join different games on different courts. Several games in the series feature a mode which allows the player to hold a slam dunk contest.
Several games in the series have featured game modes that are exclusive to that particular game. NBA 2K11 featured the Jordan Challenge mode, in which players are tasked with recreating some of Michael Jordan's most memorable feats, such as scoring 69 points in a single game. NBA 2K12 featured the NBA's Greatest mode, where the player can play with past NBA players, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and Bill Russell. The PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows versions of NBA 2K14 featured a mode titled Path to Greatness; similar to the Jordan Challenge mode, it focuses on the career of LeBron James.
All twenty-four of the series main installments have been developed by Visual Concepts. The first six games were published by Sega Sports, before the company sold Visual Concepts to Take Two Interactive, thus forming 2K Sports.
The original NBA 2K Game was initially released in November 1999 for the Dreamcast, featuring Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers as the cover athlete. The first four games in the NBA 2K series feature commentary from fictional announcers Bob Steele and Rod West, portrayed by Bob Fitzgerald and Rod Brooks, respectively.
NBA 2K1 was initially released in October 2000 for the Dreamcast. Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers returns as the cover athlete. NBA 2K1, among other things, introduces a mode which focuses on street basketball, and a mode which allows the player to act as the general manager of a team; most of the game's successors feature variations of the two modes. This was also the first game in the series to allow for online play, allowing for 8 people to play together online.
NBA 2K3 was initially released in October 2002 for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. It is the second and final time of the game in the series to be released for the GameCube. Allen Iverson of the 76ers made his fourth appearance as the cover athlete.
ESPN NBA Basketball was released in October and November 2003 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles. Allen Iverson made his fifth and final appearance as the cover athlete. The game introduces a 24/7 mode, a career mode in which the player can create a customizable character and use them to compete in basketball tournaments and other competitions. Online game modes are also present, and each player has a unique facial design, also a first. The game features a commentary team consisting of Bob Fitzgerald and Tom Tolbert; Kevin Frazier hosts pre-game shows.
ESPN NBA 2K5 was first released in September 2004 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It is the last game in the series to be published by Sega Sports before the company sold Visual Concepts to Take Two Interactive, forming 2K Sports. Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons replaced Iverson as the cover athlete. It is the second and final in the series to feature ESPN branding. The game features Stuart Scott as a presenter, Bob Fitzgerald as a play-by-play commentator, Bill Walton as a second commentator, Michele Tafoya as a sideline reporter.
NBA 2K6 was initially released in September 2005 for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and, for the first time, Xbox 360. It is the first game in the series to be published by 2K Sports. Shaquille O'Neal of the Miami Heat serves as the game's cover athlete; he was also involved in some of the game's motion capture development. In NBA 2K6, Kevin Harlan is the play-by-play commentator, Kenny Smith is the color commentator, and Craig Sager is the sideline reporter. The next two installments in the series feature the same team.
NBA 2K7 was initially released in September 2006 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, and Xbox 360. It is the first game in the series to be released for the PlayStation 3 and the last to be released for the original Xbox. O'Neal returns as the cover athlete. NBA 2K7 is the first game in the series to feature a licensed soundtrack; the previous games featured music produced exclusively for the games. The soundtrack, which was compiled by Dan the Automator, consists of 13 songs, and was also released in CD format as Dan the Automator Presents 2K7.
NBA 2K8 was initially released in October 2007 for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Chris Paul is the game's cover athlete. The game introduces the Slam Dunk Contest game mode. The soundtrack consists of 23 licensed songs.
In June 2008, 2K Sports announced that they were partnering with Tencent to release an online version of NBA 2K for the Chinese market. Since then the game has expanded to other markets in Asia.
NBA 2K9 was initially released in October 2008 for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and, for the first time in the series, Microsoft Windows. Kevin Garnett(BOS) is featured as the game's cover athlete. The commentary team consists of Harlan and Clark Kellogg, with Cheryl Miller serving as sideline reporter. The soundtrack consists of 24 licensed songs and one original song.
NBA 2K10 was initially released in October 2009 for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable (a first), Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo Wii (also a first). It is the first game since NBA 2K3 to be released on a Nintendo platform. Kobe Bryant(LAL) is the game's cover athlete. Fans were able to vote for which image they favoured out of four to be used on the cover. The game features a reincarnated career mode titled MyPlayer, which would become a staple of the future games in the series, later being retitled as MyCareer. Harlan and Kellogg return as commentators, while Doris Burke replaces Miller as sideline reporter. The licensed soundtrack consists of 30 songs. In addition to the standard release, a limited edition version of the