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Last year's "NBA Draft Combine" for NBA 2K10 - a paid downloadable mode that went out before the game's release - will be part of NBA 2K11's main game this year, according to a 2K Sports community manager.
Today over Twitter, 2K's Ronnie Singh proffered that last year's Draft Combine - a novel way to get gamers involved pre-release - wouldn't go out ahead of the game for NBA 2K11.
Draft Combine allowed gamers to develop a prospect for NBA 2K10's "My Player" mode in a series of drills and scrimmages pre-release, so that he'd be ready for the league on day one. This year, it'll go out with the main game on day of release.
That said, contacted by Kotaku this afternoon, Singh also indicated 2K Sports still has plans for a free, pre-release download but didn't characterize it as DLC as most understand the term - being a game extension or add-on. Pressed for details, neither he nor 2K would confirm anything, but it seems to be a more robust demo than is typically released.
LeBron James' decision to leave Cleveland and sign with Miami also changes the fortunes of those franchises' video game counterparts. Expect to catch a lot of the Heat in online multiplayer. And the Cavaliers, formerly the top choice, will vanish.
"For ranked games, the Cavs were the No. 1 choice, because of LeBron, and the Heat were in the top 10," Chris Snyder, 2K Sports director of marketing, told me after the publisher of NBA 2K released a much, much better image than the one we put up last night of James suited up for Miami.
"This year, I'd expect the Heat to be the No. 1 team for ranked games next year," Snyder You've still got the Lakers, Celtics, Nuggets and Magic, which are good teams and have fun players," Snyder added, "but I expect people will probably want to check out what this new Miami team looks and plays like."
James joins a Miami team that already had an extremely potent lineup by signing free agent forward Chris Bosh and keeping all-star Dwyane Wade in black and red.
There won't be another update to NBA 2K10's Living Rosters, so the first time the unit will be playable in multiplayer will be with the release of NBA 2K11 on Oct. 5. Of course, anyone with the game can swap players around to try them out now. But 2K11 is promising greater depth of player animation, new controls, and crisper visuals, so they will likely play and perform differently in the new game.
Snyder says 2K Sports' multiplayer servers saw a surge in activity right after James' announcement, indicating that game's community dropped everything to tune in, then went back to the virtual hardwood as soon as it was over.
This year, of course, NBA 2K11 will feature Michael Jordan on its cover, as well as playable in the game in a mode for which no details have been released. I asked Snyder if his office was secretly hoping for James to choose the Bulls, one of six suitors seeking his basketball services, and Snyder laughed.
"I'm from New Jersey, I was hoping he'd go to the Nets, to be completely frank," Snyder said. "But we didn't have a rooting interest. We're pretty happy and secure with the guy we have on the cover, while it would have been a nice tie together."
Snyder added that 2K Sports saw itself on Twitter's trending topics list for a few hours after James' announcement, even though the studio made no news release or statement about it last night. "It's funny that people associate all of these things with LeBron, and we're a part of that," Snyder said. "Whether people like it or not, he is a big part of video gaming."
Back in April, Operation Sports's MessenjahMatt put together this excellent recreation of famous Michael Jordan performances in NBA 2K10. As Jordan is confirmed to be playable in NBA 2K11, it's potentially a look at what that might entail.
Although 2K Sports was mum on the subject speaking with me (and everyone else), ESPN reported earlier that the studio was approaching other NBA figures for the use of their likenesses. One would have to think some kind of playable career-highlights mode is going to be a part of this - The Shot versus Cleveland, his 63 points against Boston, the switched-hands layup against Los Angeles, etc.
MessenjahMatt (who's done Jordan tributes in 2K10 before) gives us highlights from two Jordan defeats - the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals against Orlando, and the 1998 Eastern Conference finals against Indiana - followed by one very iconic victory: the championship winner he made in the 1998 NBA Finals against Utah, his last game as a Chicago Bull. The audio in this video comes from Jordan's famous "Failure" ad for Nike. That ad featured no game highlights, just Jordan solemnly entering the arena before a game.
NBA 2K10 'Failure' Nike Commercial [Operation Sports]