For years, one of the most popular sport-based video games has been NBA 2k. However, the video game will soon vault into the top of the esports stratosphere with the NBA 2k League.
There haven’t been many details released about the league. We know that 17 NBA franchises have agreed to participate. We also know that tryouts will take place in February, and the subsequent draft will occur in March. And, we know that all players must be 18 years or older to be eligible. And finally, we know that one franchise is setting an example for the other 16 participants, the Indiana Pacers.
It Starts at the top
In an interview in May by the Indy Star, Pacers owner Herb Simon had some preliminary thoughts about the NBA 2k League and its formation. “I’m very, very bullish about the league under the present leadership,” he said.
He thinks it could be a useful tool to tap into a younger demographic adding, “The young kids are playing this, and they are playing it all the time.” Simon wasn’t wrong. NBA 2k was the highest-rated and highest-revenue-generating sports video game in North America at the time.
Having the right leadership is critical for any organization or idea to succeed. The NBA 2k League will be no different. If owners like Simon believe in the idea wholeheartedly, then that same attitude will matriculate through the organization. It’s important that everyone on board from the owner to the camera man understands the vision and the value of this emerging league.
Understanding the Industry
Fast forward to late September, and the Pacers have hired Robert “Cody” Parrent as their Director of Esports Operations. Parrent has an extensive background in CS:GO and Halo, but how does his experience translate to the NBA 2k League?
It’s simple. He understands the consumer. The esports industry, while growing, still has many unanswered questions. For example, will the games be played on PC or console? Will the NBA partner with a streaming service like Twitch to broadcast these games, or promote them on their own network, NBA TV? While those answers may not exist now, the Pacers are confident that Parrent could have the key to unlocking a new consumer for their franchise.
the introduction of gaming
Let’s jump to last night’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the Fox Sports Indiana halftime program, the Pacers ran a piece on what each player thought of their respective 2k rating.
While this may seem like filler or fluff, it’s exactly the opposite. The Pacers are slowly exposing their fan base to the game. It’s incredibly smart. They want to introduce their traditional fans to gaming on a general level. The best way to do so is to involve the players themselves. Why? It adds legitimacy to the game and the league.
In the piece, it is evident that Lance Stephenson and Myles Turner were fully aware of their rating, and excited to talk about it. Turner went as far as to say he could see himself earning a rating in the high 80’s or low 90’s by season’s end. This kind of excitement from the players is a critical step to ensuring the league hits the ground running. Think about it, if the players featured in the game didn’t find it interesting or fun, why would you?
Let’s examine the timing. The Pacers chose to run this piece at halftime of their biggest game to date. They knew eyes would be glued to the TV when LeBron James, and the always topical Cleveland Cavaliers, hosted the Pacers last night. I’d hardly say that’s a coincidence. One could argue it was calculated and smart to air the piece at halftime of this particular game.
These are small steps, but they are no doubt in the right direction. The Pacers, along with a few others, are setting the standard and are taking the necessary steps to best promote NBA 2k League and its launch in May of 2018.
Featured Image Courtesy of Sport Techie
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