In the uber-competitive category of sports video games, only one reigns supreme in the world of basketball. You can thank 2K Sports' Head of Marketing, Jason Argent, for that, by the way! Him and his tireless compatriots have created a hub for fierce competitors to do battle online, since it seems like we're not to have any NBA to watch on the boob tube. The one thing that gamers have been able to count on for the past few years with the NBA 2K series is that they'll get an experience that simulates real life, and NBA 2K12 is no exception.
Armed with a superior dose of uncanny realism to gameplay, graphics and animation mimic in detail everything from signature moves of star players to witnessing throwback classics with the NBA's Greatest challenges. That extreme realism is what multiplies the pleasure (and dollars) of the gaming experience for the true sports fan. We got a chance to sit down with Mr. Argent a few weeks ago to talk about the game roundball, what could possibly turn-off gamers, if he's ever been chin-checked by an NBA player, and get his thoughts on the NBA lockout.
Interview by Kevin L. Clark (@DLYDJ)
Complex: Congratulations on another successful addition to the series, Jason! You guys look to have a lot of peoples attention with NBA 2K12.
Jason Argent: Thank you! Thank you very much! We certainly think so.
Complex: Although we've highlighted the changes in our review, a lot of people are wondering what this series can do to improve on 2K11. After so many highs like "The Jordan Challenges," can you let fans know what they can expect now that 2K12 is in stores?
Jason: You know there's a lot of stuff that I can try and articulate, but the real experience comes in picking up the game, and actually getting hands-on time with it. The simple answer is that everything from top to bottom has been improved. There's never a point in time where we at 2K are satisfied with what we have done entirely. In our opinion, there's always room for improvement, and with every new feature having been improved on every level—we can say that we stepping into uncharted territory. There's particularly good grade increases with "My Player" and the "NBA Today" modes, as far as immediate updates go, but the gameplay itself is something I think has shockingly improved. So, on every single level fans will be excited to see that we made yet another really great leap forward!
Complex: We got our hands on 2K12 a little bit early and one of the most noticeable changes was that you couldn't get away with any slick stuff. You really have to know the game of basketball to compete in 2K12. Do you see that as a possible turn-off for those gamers who like to take their favorite NBA player and just go H.A.M. on the courts?
Jason: Well, the answer is that we really tried to keep the game appealing to consumers on every level. The game always has to be deep enough to appeal to our hardcore basketball fans—first. But we always want the game to be as much pick up and play as possible. So, you're asking a great question, and we take it very seriously, which shows in the effort, time, and pains to make sure the game does not become too difficult to play. For someone who may be a casual gamer, we want them to pick this up and have a relatively more simple experience. At the same time, the depth always has to be there, and we like the fact that people who know the game of basketball, love the game of basketball, can play it at that deeply competitive level.
Complex: The NBA's Greatest debate, started by Ronnie2K, allowed 2K12 to do some pretty ingenious things. What were some of the things developed for the game that didn't make the cut?
Jason: I think the big picture answer to that question is that we always look to the game of basketball and the NBA as one in the same. Not only do we want to showcase the current day players, but the history of the game, and the future of the game as a whole. I think that you see that in some of the things that we've done. You know the "Jordan Challenges" from last year's installment were a great example of showing how the game got to be where it is today and it was very, very well received by our fans. Based on some of the things that we wanted to do and based on the feedback from the fans, the next logical step was to pay homage to the other legendary greats of the game.
The game always has to be deep enough to appeal to our hardcore basketball fans—first. But we always want the game to be as much pick up and play as possible.
It was an interesting concept and it appealed to our fans on two very different levels. The younger fans have known or seen these games, but have never actually had a chance to experience it. Some of the older fans have the nostalgia factor of watching their favorite players and grew up with those classic moments in NBA history, so the chance to play as them and be essentially in those games is really powerful. We've really focused on being able to deliver that!
Complex: We got the chance to talk to Kevin Garnett and he spoke on how he's a notorious gamer and is very competitive. Has there ever been a basketball player to come by and check you about the game?
Jason: [Laughs] I don't know if I can pull a specific example out to answer this, but I do get a lot of casual feedback. Whether someone is talking about how great they look in the game to wondering how we pulled off some of the features, players have some interesting things to say. There are a lot of great stories, none that I can particularly share right now, but there are countless ones.
Complex: David Stern makes his first appearance in 2K series game. What was the initial reaction to having the NBA's commissioner finally in the game?
Jason: Everything with us and our game, as you know, is about creating the closest possible experience to real life. It's all about simulating the actual game, the actual league, and all its characters. The NBA has been an incredibly great partner to us over the years, and Mr. Stern's involvement is another example of our positive working relationship. We're really happy to have him in the game and we're proud of what we're doing together.
Complex: With the lockout going on it kind of dampens the online experience of 2K12. Do you see this as an issue for gamers?
The younger fans have known or seen these games, but have never actually had a chance to experience it. Some of the older fans have the nostalgia factor of watching their favorite players and grew up with those classic moments in NBA history, so the chance to play as them and be essentially in those games is really powerful.
Jason: Well, the boring answer is that the lockout hasn't really been a concern for us. Interestingly enough, everything that we do when we wake up in the morning is focused on creating the best possible gaming experience ever. The truth is that we all want basketball back, we're fans of the game as much as everyone else, and we want to see this situation get resolved. But from a gameplay standpoint in itself, we've done everything that we can do and more to make sure that we've delivered a standout experience that rivals and even surpasses last year's game.