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It now appears online support for all of these titles was quietly pulled at the beginning of this month.
The only 2K Sports titles with confirmed online support today are 2011's Top Spin 4, Major League Baseball 2K12, and, of course, NBA 2K13. I booted into College Hoops 2K8, All-Pro Football 2K8, and even NBA 2K12 and got messages saying 2K Sports servers were offline in each one. Kotaku has reached out to 2K Sports representatives for clarification.
The server shutdowns are significant because it effectively means the end of College Hoops 2K8's roster sharing community. Though the game was canceled in early 2008, its online support—and the ability to share edited rosters with real-world, re-rated performers—continued through this autumn. All Pro Football 2K8, the spiritual heir to the beloved NFL 2K5, no longer has online multiplayer. NBA 2K12 likewise has no online support, at last check.
In 2011 EA Sports shut down online support, including roster sharing, for its NCAA Basketball series, which as a physical release outlived College Hoops by a year and was canceled after its November 2009 release. Theoretically, rosters may still be shared among PC gamers playing College Hoops 2K8 or playing college mods of 2K Sports' NBA series, but this is effectively the death of college basketball in console video gaming.
NBA 2K12 gamers first noticed the outage, according to this thread, begun three weeks ago. They pointed to this message on 2K Sports' Forums, saying the servers for everything but MLB 2K12 and NBA 2K13 went dark on Nov. 1. I checked and was still able to create matches and connect to other players in Top Spin 4, 2K Sports' acclaimed tennis simulation released in 2011.
College basketball has long been a problematic license for sports publishers. Though the NCAA has a billion-dollar television contract for its championship tournament and summons millions of viewers in North America in March, titles under its license released in November, typically at the end of the simulation sports publishing cycle, and were cannibalized by the professional basketball games. College sports simulations also face the threat of litigation; a lawsuit currently in U.S. federal court claims the NCAA and its licensed games publishers—i.e. EA Sports—unlawfully used actual amateur players' likenesses.
EA Sports developed a roster-sharing feature through its console games in response to the NCAA's unwillingness to license the use of its athletes' real names. 2K Sports' "roster share" feature, which arrived later in its College Hoops title, was similar in structure.
Or the Chicago Bulls. Or Golden State Warriors. Or any team in NBA 2K12's Association or My Player modes, as Reddit user soadfan09 discovered today.
This has actually been known for some time, but it's still cool to see POTUS now as HCOTDM. He'll show up on the sidelines about three seasons into your team's dynasty or your player's career, and can end up on any team. He seems to frequently appear with his hometown Bulls but Google searches reveal forum threads back in the winter that mention Obama as the coach of other teams.
Obama appears in the game (and appeared in NBA 2K11) in an off-season cinematic in which your team visits the White House if it has won the NBA championship. So, that's why the facial modeling of the leader of the free world is on the disc in the first place. I think he looks a little bit like former Knick and current ESPN college analyst Hubert Davis, but I guess that's the ears.
Hell, William Howard Taft went on to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. John Quincy Adams served in the House of Representatives. If Obama doesn't get re-elected, coaching in the NBA isn't such a bad second act, either.
In an all-background sim of NBA 2K12 with the most current roster, released yesterday—and its depth chart is adjusted to reflect the absence of World Peace—Los Angeles won the first two games at home, then lost four straight to the Nuggets. On the bright side, L.A., this concludes all of
Artest World Peace's suspension, so you'll get him back in time for your next game, which will be around Oct. 30. He got the timeout when he went all Thunder-Punch He-Man on James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday.
After getting 32 and 41 points from Kobe Bryant in games one and two, the Lakers gagged away a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of game four to knot the series, and utterly disintegrated in the thin Rocky Mountain air, losing 108-80 in game six.
Elsewhere in the first round of the simulation, the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers tip off at this moment against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, on TNT. NBA 2K12 says the Sixers will go seven games before losing 107-97 in the finale; Orlando dispatches Indiana in six to set up an all-Sunshine State second round versus the Miami Heat, winning in six against New York. Boston eases past Atlanta in five.
In the Western Conference, San Antonio cruises by Utah in five; Memphis likewise defeats the L.A. Clippers 4-1. The big stunner, in addition to Denver ending the Lakers' season, is the Dallas Mavericks taking out second-seed Oklahoma City in 6 games. The Thunder suffer an eight-point third quarter and get walloped 120-78 in the clincher.
In the second round, NBA 2K12 calls for a four-game sweep of Memphis by the Spurs, to face Denver, which prevails in six over Dallas. In the Eastern Conference, Boston stuns the Bulls in seven to meet the Heat, six-game winners over Orlando, reprising their second-round matchup from last year.
Conference winners, according to the game, will be the Spurs in five and the Heat in five, an eminently safe call. Incidentally, the simulation with Artest in the lineup had the Lakers facing Miami in the finals.
I only simulated through the conference championships. I'll revisit this when the actual Finals pairings are set.
Finally, you may be wondering what happened to Biff Tannen's Sports Almanac. I got an email from the future, with a picture showing Biff's apartment totally trashed, pages from Gray's Sports Almanac shredded and littering the living room, a shattered Mr. Fusion hurled into the fireplace.
Biff was 20 games underwater and it seems his bookmaker sent some old-school thumb breakers from 1976 to collect. "o xant gelief theyd do tfis," Biff writes. "i swar i was gona hut it big w/nhl plaoofs." Sorry Biff.
Check out this video of him commentating on an NBA 2k12-simulated matchup of last week's NBA All Star Game.
"You would'a thought that they'd get it in every time, but that's why basketball's so exciting, apparently," he notes.
Yes, Anthony. Yes it is.
2K Sports pulls a Jordan on March 6, combining its stellar basketball game with its so-so baseball franchise in the Xbox 360 exclusive $69.99 MLB 2K12/NBA 2K12 Combo Pack.
At first blush it doesn't seem to stand out: NBA 2K11 cracked the top 20 of most played titles on the Xbox 360 for the week of Jan. 16. But when you peel it back, that's actually quite astonishing, to see an old version of a sports video game resurface more than 15 months after its release.
This is not unprecedented. EA Sports' FIFA series routinely places its two most current editions in the Xbox Live top 20, especially around the time the new version is releasing. (FIFA 11 and FIFA 12 were top 20 from 12's Sept. 27 release to the end of the year.) FIFA's global popularity certainly explains its longevity here. Madden, EA Sports' long-running powerhouse, also does a double-dip in its release window, though it drops off more quickly.
But a look back suggests that when the old version leaves the top 20, it usually doesn't come back. Certainly not after a three-month layoff.
What's going on? I put this to some folks inside 2K Sports, who were just as surprised (albeit pleasantly) as I was. It doesn't track to the tip off of the new NBA season—that was Dec. 25. While 2K Sports announced it would extend online support for NBA 2K11, in light of problems with NBA 2K12's multiplayer features, that happened back in November, a month after release. And it's especially irrelevant as this figure concerns the unique users playing the game who are connected to Xbox Live, which has nothing to do with playing online multiplayer or connecting to the 2K servers.
It could be that NBA 2K11, whose "Jordan Challenge" series celebrates the career highlights of the NBA's greatest player, really is heirloom quality, as I called it in my review at the time. The Jordan Challenge is exclusive to NBA 2K11, not 2K12, and no doubt drives back catalog sales of that game—an absolute rarity in modern console sports gaming. I've suggested that 2K Sports, if it can, should cut this out and offer it for DLC, playable in the current game. But these numbers would put off that kind of action, probably until sometime next year.
It seems a little too easy to explain it that way. A sale, maybe? NBA 2K11 has a lower price tag by definition. The cover is similar to the Jordan cover (one of three) of NBA 2K12, too. The numbering may be confusing to those who don't normally buy the game, but wouldn't we have seen that influence before?
Who knows. NBA 2K11 was an unbelievable phenomenon for a sports title of predominantly North American interest. It was an NPD Top 20 seller, across all platforms, for all 12 months post-release. Maybe its staying power is just now becoming known.
According to Rich Funk, "My legal name is Richard Funk. As I usually do with sports games, the day I got NBA 2K12, I created myself as a player in the game. Again, I used my legal name."
Above is how NBA 2K12 apparently reacted to "Rich Funk". It did not like Rich Funk.
"I've emailed 2K Sports about this, but haven't heard anything back. Have you heard of anyone else getting punished like this? It's not my fault I'm German!"
It's also not Rich Funk's fault he has a super cool name.