NBA 2K usually releases in September, but when you consider the state of the world and the various industries impacted by the spread of COVID-19, it would seem there is a possibility NBA 2K21 could be delayed–but that might not be a bad thing.
NBA 2K is developed in Novato, California. The state has been under shelter-in-place orders for over a month and the 2K development team has been working from home on the next version of the game.
It’s clear the MyTeam group hasn’t stopped turning out new cards for NBA 2K20, but supplying content for an existing game is very different than putting together a brand new release.
New versions of sports video games are supposed to include rookies, new uniforms, arenas, floors, free-agent moves, rule changes on top of new features and mechanics.
With the 2019-20 NBA season suspended, and the conclusion still up in the air, it’s impossible to know what’s in store for the 2020-21 campaign.
Like every publisher that has a deal with a professional sports league, 2K uses the start of the NBA season as a jump-off point for its annual release.
With each passing day, it’s beginning to look as though the 2020-21 NBA season won’t be starting on time. That’s not an ideal climate for any 2K release, but it’s especially troubling for the one upcoming.
This happens to be the year the gaming industry is welcoming the next-generation consoles (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X).
The programming for a new console can often bring unexpected difficulties. This is likely the last development cycle a studio would want to go through with its engineers working from home.
Without it’s real-life counterpart in session, valuable members of its staff are working from home, and dealing with the challenges of developing for a new console, it seems like the odds are against a September release.
Before you let that concept get you down, there are several reasons to be happy about a potential delay.
If a delay is inevitable, the sooner the 2K fanbase realizes the release of NBA 2K21 isn’t going to happen in September, the better.
MyTeam has done a solid job extending the life of its mode with a steady stream of content. I’m betting on a new Kobe Bryant Galaxy Opal card dropping soon, and if that happens, it’ll pump some serious life into the 2K conversation.
MyTeam is also set up for other additional content if 2K was set to embrace the concept of extending the life of NBA 2K20 in hopes of bridging the gap until 2K21 is ready for consumers.
Beyond what a delay of 2K21 could do to potentially increase the appreciation of 2K20, it would almost certainly give the development team some much-needed time to ensure the next version is noticeably better than the current one.
I’ve had a lot of fun with NBA 2K20, but it’s not perfect.
NBA 2K21 won’t be either, but with something of a reprieve from what sometimes seems like a gradually shrinking release cycle, the devs might find themselves in a position to work out some of the kinks that often plague 2K releases shortly after the game hits retailers.
Heading into the next-generation of consoles, fans will be looking for major improvements. From what I’ve learned about the specs for both the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the visuals and sound in NBA 2K21 will blow gamers away.
It’s likely 2K will try to recapture the same wow effect NBA 2K14 generated when it blazed a trail on the current-gen systems, which hopefully means we’ll see a return of the fantastic lighting from that version that has yet to be replicated.
However, there is more to the equation than graphics and sound, and if the other parts aren’t tight, 2K will be dragged for falling short in other key areas. The more time to develop, the better.
As for NBA 2K21 on the current gen, a delay should set that version up to be the best we’ve ever seen on the PS4 and Xbox One.
Many may not remember, but NBA 2K14 on PS3 and Xbox 360 was strong with modes like LeBron James Path to Greatness. If 2K can produce similar experiences with the next game on the current gen, it’ll be a win on that platform as well.
While most sports gamers would miss the excitement that comes with the annual late-summer release, in the long run, the extra time should help to produce a better NBA 2K21, and a more refined NBA 2K20 experience in the meantime.