If you thought that 2K Sports couldn't do things bigger and better after last year's hugely successful NBA 2K11 installment, surely you're on one. After including the G.O.A.T. — Michael Jordan — it seemed like the only thing left to do was shoot higher by putting not one, not two, but three legends on the cover. To make sure that the hoop heads (who are still reeling from the NBA lockout) are happy with the cover choices, Ronnie Singh (@Ronnie2K) stepped up to make sure that NBA 2K12 has an exclamatory year of success for the fourth quarter.
For those who haven't ran across the social media guru (and 2K Sports community manager) on Twitter or at The PlayStation Blog, Singh started a healthy debate about who is the game's greatest player. Folks from all over the world chimed in, and luckily, we got a chance to build with the devoted lover of basketball about being the bridge between the boardroom and the BBS; we played some word association; and mused about his Top 5 Celebrity Ballers for Blacktop mode.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy this chat with Ronnie2K!
Interview by Kevin L. Clark (@DLYDJ)
Complex: It's no secret that everybody loved The Jordan Challenges from 2K11, but with a new year come new surprises. We're not going to have to do any Washington Wizards challenges, are we?
Ronnie2K: [Laughs] No, no, no… No Washington Wizards challenges.
Complex: [Laughs] The bridge between the online community and 2K is pretty noticeable this year. How has social media improved the awareness of 2K12 this year?
Ronnie2K: We spent a lot of time thinking about how to give people something to talk about. We considered who were the top 10 to 20 legends in the game and thought the community would want to see who was picked. We really wanted to create a certain level of participation. Starting off with voting on Facebook, we asked them who they'd like to see featured. Immediately, we got this huge list, and actually I want to say all ten players who were in our Top 18 listed were legends voted in by the fans. A couple of the guys that were those who are still playing like Kobe Bryant and a few others. We wanted this game to focus on the past Kobe's before the cover: the fresh out of high school Kobe and the three-peat in 2002 Kobe. One thing that separates our company versus others is that we take community feedback very seriously. We kind of got bred on our fans; our sales went up last year and a big part of it was due to the word of mouth of our fans. It's no secret that all that happened in real time through social media. We were a trending topic for eight straight days the day before and the whole week of launch. That 2K11 buzz that happened showed us how serious we should take our fans opinions.
We wanted this game to focus on the past Kobe's before the cover: the fresh out of high school Kobe and the three-peat in 2002 Kobe.
Complex: That's good to known that you started up such a healthy debate behind the scenes that trickled online.
Ronnie2K: The first thing that people were asking up was, "How do you do better than Jordan?" We had him last year and it was a great success for us. We first revealed the three covers and then everybody asked, "What does that mean?" So, after that we announced the fifteen guys who were going to be a part of this, "Who's the greatest matchup? discussion and the community responded. We asked them, after we announced the fifteen, "Who's the greatest team of all time?" So, you have the '95-'96 Bulls who went 72-10. Are they greatest? Is it last year's [Miami] Heat? Is it any one of the Boston Celtics teams that won eleven championships? I think that that's going to be the next kind of conversation that goes on when the game comes out on October 4th. We're going to let the gamers settle that debate! There are so many legendary teams to pick from, 34 in all, so you can imagine the debate that comes out of this conversation.
Complex: Let's play some word association for just a second? Say the first thing that comes to mind…
Complex: [Laughs] Legend.
Ronnie2K: Michael Jordan.
Ronnie2K: Amare [Stoudemire].
Complex: Okay, okay… For the few who are just trending topic followers—why would anyone ask you on Twitter about why Allen Iverson wasn't featured?
Ronnie2K: I actually answered that question. I believe that he deserves to be in the Top 15! He's the one guy actually that's no on there that I think deserves to be there. Only problem with Allen Iverson is that I don't think he's retired so, [laughs] you can't be a legend part of this Greatest mode unless you consider yourself retired. I feel like if we did this again five years from now, there would be no doubt that he would be there.
One thing that separates our company versus others is that we take community feedback very seriously
Complex: Who are this year's celebrity ballers in 2K12 and who would be on your Top 5 Celebrity All-Star Team?
Ronnie2K: I actually deal with the celebs a lot because of the whole Twitter thing, so I'm always reaching out to them. We've had a lot of very interesting discussions with some fantastic people, but I really want the passionate players from the crowd to the blacktop to enjoy this year's mode. If we could get Spike Lee, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, and Justin Timberlake to be in the game, it'd be fun for everyone. Unfortunately, there won't be a celebrity Blacktop mode in this year's title. I have to admit that I think I am a little biased because I'm trying to get this game as much social media exposure as possible. I feel like the guys with that presence, that play, and have people that can relate them to basketball—those are the kind of guys I think would be great for Blacktop mode if it is continued in the future.
Complex: Maybe a Terrell Owens could be in it, too? He's pretty good on the courts…
Ronnie2K: He's a very good basketball player. He also has a huge social presence, but the problem is that he is a NFL player. So, we run into that whole licensing stuff there, too.