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The NBA and 2K Have Agreed to a Huge New License Deal, What Does it Mean?

NBA 2K19

The NBA and 2K Have Agreed to a Huge New License Deal, What Does it Mean?

Yesterday, 2K and the NBA announced a huge $1.1 billion licensing partnership that immediately had more questions than answers to it when it comes to the future of NBA games.

After spending some time digesting the news, we’re going to share some perspectives on what it all means, specifically for the future of NBA games.

Robert Kollars

Good for 2K and the NBA. But at that cost, they have pretty much priced EA (and anyone else) out of the market for the NBA license. At this juncture it would be more fruitful for EA to jump back into baseball and boxing, instead of trying to keep up with 2K in the roundball department.

Let’s hope that if this is the case, that the quality of 2K basketball offerings won’t see a drastic decline over the course of this contract. We, as sports gamers, have been down this road before, and it can be a bumpy ride for sure.x

Kevin Groves

As an NBA fan that doesn’t play 2K I have to admit I did a double-take when I saw this news come across my Twitter feed. I knew 2K had separated itself from Live years ago but this is impressive and speaks to the global popularity of the NBA. I mostly hang around the soccer forum these days but even on there 2K is the game by which all other’s are measured. We’ll see if that prices EA out but the folks that make Live have to ask themselves is it even worth it financially.

Phil Varckette

Obviously the big question is where does this leave NBA Live? Is this license exclusive? Will EA be willing to pay for the license if not. One has to think this will drive up the licensing price immensely and should EA even bother paying for it when the sales of their NBA game are minuscule compared to 2K’s. As Bob said, this would be a great opportunity for EA to get back into baseball. Xbox fans have been longing for an MLB game for years. I feel like it would make EA more money than their NBA Live franchise. I can only imagine the excitement in the new MVP Baseball forum!

Smirkin Dirk

At least this means the NBA will remain part of NBA2K. With the success of the Park, pro-am, the neighbourhood etc, some commentators have speculated whether the licensed NBA teams and players are as integral to the game as they once were. I never really feared the game could become based around our created toons and move away from the NBA, but that thought has been put to bed.

Cody King

2K is above and beyond NBA Live and has been for years now. Dominating gameplay, features, and overall playability for a decade. They have fully surfaced as a bond between the professional players, and the casual gamers being able to share the same experience in game, and on social media. This sum speaks volumes as to what 2K means to the NBA community, and how much they support each other.

Joel Smith

When I saw this news pop up in my notifications bar I almost fell off my chair. As someone that complained about EA buying out licensing in the 2000s and not allowing other companies to compete I was initially upset about this deal. I then realized that the NBA doesn’t do exclusivity and that EA would have an opportunity to also continue their license, but at the dollar amount that was set here it’s just not possible for EA to stick around in the basketball market. They do have the funds but have rebranded a new NBA Live game that is now in its second year of relevance; they still have a long way to go to even compete with NBA 2K. It wouldn’t make sense for them to continue on with NBA Live at a $1.1B price tag. They should retool their resources to their NHL, FIFA and Madden games. This deal only makes sense for the NBA and for 2K as NBA 2K has far and away been a great basketball simulation game for years and has set the standard for a sports game overall for the last few years without question.

Raychel Sanner

This is the ultimate power play by 2K. It’s possible the NBA asked for a higher price for the renewal, but the odds are high that 2K willingly decided to pay more for the license to potentially price out their competitors from EA as well. This is a potentially genre changing move that has ramifications beyond just basketball, but everyone here is right to wonder if this means Live has a long-term viable future.

The series has lagged behind in sales and quality, with the constant rebuilding effort never seeming to actually push the series into the realm of greatness I think you’d want to be seeing at this point. The basketball space has de-facto largely belonged to 2K for years now and this likely just cements that hold.

Ultimately, this move is as much about the future of the 2K series as it is anything else. So far, the quality of the series hasn’t really suffered over the years — so there’s no real reason to worry about the series’ quality just yet. We’ll have to wait and see what the news means for both games going forward though, but the speculation that Live is in trouble is probably not misplaced.


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  1. It means there will be no competition and the games will get progressively worse over the years.  No competition means you don't have to try as hard and you can nickel and dime your customers more.  These types of deals are never a good thing.
    What marty said.
    No competition, no innovation. Look what happened to Madden and 2ks WWE. How long until the offline aspect of the game is just shelved completely. Game is already on my no buy list for the VC and mycareer being tied to online
    So another sports franchise competition just encourages lackluster annual attempts at making money from customers at the biggest profit margin imaginable even at the cost of quality.  Look at WWE, Madden, The soon as the competition disappeared the quality annual improvements almost came to a complete standstill.
    Let's be honest here.  Is NBA Live really looked at as competition  towards 2K or is it just another NBA licensed game on the market?  Live is so far behind 2K that it may as well not even be there.
    Tbh the only excitement I got out of this article was the possibility of MVP Baseball returning hahaha. I think EA would kill it in that department, and get better sales than Live. I’m an Xbox guy so the necessity for a baseball game has been making me go insane
    Well hopefully EA puts more resources into NHL and a baseball game. I don’t think Live challenged NBA2K enough. If only the NFL allowed 2K to make a licensed football game.. still bitter about that one
    I kind of disagree with the no competition part.  Yes this might mean that there is no direct NBA competition but if 2K wants to keep their team motivated I would just use other sports games, and maybe top video games in general, as the source for competition.  Instead of the goal being the best NBA/basketball videogame they can strive to be the best sports game (which I believe they already strive for) or even the best videogame overall.
    But that's all on how 2k, the management, and the developers handle the situation.  They could use the lack of competition as an excuse to be complacent or they can find inspiration elsewhere to stay motivated.  I like to think game developers want to make the best game they can.  I can't imagine any developer would be satisfied with releasing a product viewed as being inferior to their past work or a product that makes the developers appear lazy.
    I hate to hear this, sounds like 2k just doesn't want to be pushed or compete.  I guess it's a long awaited revenge for Madden monopolizing the NFL license.
    Looks like I'll be playing Witcher 3 next NBA season.
    I think it means business as usual. And with a new gen on the horizon I expect 2K to continue to push the sports gaming space to new heights. Effectively, 2K hasn't had competition in basketball in about 9 years and it still offers by far the most out of all sports games. I expect that to continue, because nothing is really changing.
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app
    2k is so disgusting on so many levels at this point. Their game is the absolute pinnacle of corporate greed and their gameplay did not even improve this year in my opinion. Their tech is 2 generations old. Live's base though severely behind in the amount of animations actually is in a much better position going forward providing much more fluidity in movement, and controllable model interactions. I believe 2k knows this and is taking the easy way out by pricing out the competition rather than have to compete with the competitors tech in the next generation. 
    Let's be honest here. *Is NBA Live really looked at as competition *towards 2K or is it just another NBA licensed game on the market? *Live is so far behind 2K that it may as well not even be there.

    I can give you 1.1 billion reasons as to why this statement isn't as apparent as you seem to make it.
    There's plenty of examples from the last decade and a half to show why this is great for business. Namely, EA's exclusivity over the NFL. We all know this isn't going to be good for the consumer. Thank goodness we already have a half-decent franchise mode in NBA 2K so it'll be a bit before everybody starts asking for a better offline experience, and if Madden is any indication, we'll never be getting it.
    Well, last night, My My Player broke Wilt's scoring record, and the presentation that surrounded it made me stand up from my gaming chair and cheer for him as if I was watching it happen live. The post game interview and the the commentary surrounding it was nothing short of amazing. If little intricacies like this are going to be emphasized more with this new agreement, I look forward to it. I really wanted to like Live 19. It wasn't a bad game, but the lack of any attention to detail show that EA developers have a very lazy spirit or just a flat out lack of ability to seal the deal. At every level, they miss marks of potential that separate the good from the great. I'm not worried about this new development. They actually earned the right to keep the license. As a matter of fact, I think the 2k people were actually to aggressive in negotiations. that 1.1 billion price tag was over-priced. They were too scared to lose out and over bidded. When you have multiple sports games of the year awards and break sale records, you actually have leverage to lower that price a bit. I can assure you that if EA would have paid that 1.1 billion and won the bid and shut 2K out, they would have been bankrupt and shutting down by Live 2022. Look at what the NFL and EA is going through now. They didn't go to PC because they cared about us. They did that in hope to increase their sales to a new market because the console folks are still finding the need to turn on their xbox and ps2's for NFL 2k5 and NCAA 2014.

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