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What the NBA 2K league needs to succeed

A lot of people were excited and surprised when the NBA and Take-Two Interactive announced their involvement in esports by creating the NBA 2K League earlier in February. It’s an ambitious effort to bring basketball as a legitimate esports game. However, the NBA isn’t new to the esports space. Many owners and players have invested into esports organizations over the past few years.

The NBA is an enormous business behind the game of basketball. If there is any league with the resources to contribute more to esports’ growth, it’s undoubtedly the NBA. But there are key factors the NBA needs to capitalize on in order to succeed with the NBA 2K League.

Twitch.tv broadcasting

Founded in 2011, Twitch is a live streaming video platform that caters to over 100 million gamers worldwide every month. It’s also the hub for most esports events. The NBA 2K League can collaborate with Twitch and have their games featured or sponsored on their home page. By doing this, it’ll bring viewership and engagement which is the exposure the league needs because it targets its ideal demographic. The average age of Twitch users is 21 with 68% being cord cutters.

Brendan Donahue, Marketing Director of the NBA 2K League, discussed in an interview with Gameswelt about “[having] a streaming and digital option certainly” and perhaps “a linear television partner.” One possibility is games can be presented through ESPN or TBS as they recently extended their television deals. Another possibility they could take would be to broadcast on NBA TV, but it’s hard to argue against streaming on Twitch.

Production value

Team introductions in ESL One New York 2016. Courtesy of ESL.

In correlation to Twitch or any broadcasting deals, the production value needs to be on par with their actual NBA games. Production value can make or break a broadcast. There are a few ideas to make the broadcast fun. Being interactive, engaging, and including the viewers into the game. Whether it be introductions, commentators, or audience participation, there’s a lot of

There are a few ideas to make the broadcast fun: being interactive, engaging and including the viewers into the game. Whether it be introductions, commentators or audience participation, there’s a lot of potential to create quality entertainment. It’s important to make viewers feel like they’re part of something special.

Notable examples of companies in esports that have mastered production value are ESL, MLG, and Blizzard Entertainment. Lighting, sound, scenery and props must be taken into account to provide the best presentation. They do a good job providing on-screen information to help viewers understand what they’re watching. If the production value is anything like the NBA, with inspiration taken from successful esports broadcasts, it’ll be a significant step in the right direction.

Developer involvement

Content creators gather at the NBA 2K18 #RunTheNeighborhood Event. Courtesy of Ronnie2K via Twitter.

An important aspect of video games is the communication between the developers and players within the community. Listening to players can build a healthy relationship and trust in their product. Building a community starts with the developers by cultivating a space that encourages feedback. An example would be listening to their player’s feedback and balancing gameplay by releasing patches frequently.

It’s critical to show that it takes skills to play NBA 2K18 by making the necessary changes for everyone to be in a fair playing field. However, it’s more important to show that there are developers that are actually listening. 2K Sports, the publisher, and Visual Concepts, the developer, have the potential to take the necessary steps with the NBA to take the NBA 2K series to another level.


 

Featured image courtesy of ESPN.

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