The History of NBA 2K

The History of NBA 2K

Tyler Robertson

While NBA 2K is the main basketball video game series at the moment, it certainly wasn’t always that way. There were multiple games prior to the first NBA 2K and more that came out alongside 2K.

The first notable basketball game released was Lakers vs. Celtics, which was released in 1989 for MS-DOS computers and was later adapted for and released on the Sega Mega Drive. The game only featured 8 NBA teams, but featured both All-Star teams too. Two more games (Bulls vs. Lakers and Bulls vs. Blazers) were released in that series, featuring more teams and players.

The name of the series was changed to NBA Showdown for one game, NBA Showdown 94, which was released on the Sega Genesis. The series was then renamed to NBA Live, which ended up becoming 2K’s main competitor.

NBA Live was released annually in September or October, close to the same release date as the 2K series. The first NBA Live title came out in 1994. NBA Live games came out every year between 1994 and 2010, then returned in 2013, only to disappear again after the 2018 release. EA Sports said they would take a hiatus to improve the game, then return when the new generation of consoles came out. The new wave of consoles has been out for over a year and EA Sports has not given an update on the game since they announced the hiatus. Reports have come out that the vast majority of the employees working on the project were moved to other projects, seemingly signaling an end to the NBA Live series.

NBA 2K, originally developed by SEGA, released in 1999 for the SEGA Dreamcast. There was nothing special about the game, but it was the beginning of the competition between 2K and NBA Live.

NBA 2K has been released annually since 1999. While the first five installments in the series were developed by SEGA, it was eventually sold to Take Two Interactive and 2K Sports, who still develop the game to this day. While the main series contained the most successful games, spinoff games such as NBA Playgrounds and NBA2K Online have also been released. According to many of the fans of the series, the quality of the games has declined since the discontinuation of NBA Live, making it easier for more competition to potentially get into the conversation in the future.