With Madden NFL 19 and The Golf Club 2019 launching this month, the season of annual sports games is officially underway. One of the next big major releases in the sports game category is 2K’s NBA 2K19, which launches on September 7 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. GameSpot recently had the opportunity to speak with 2K’s Head of International Communications, Wouter Van Vugt, to talk about a number of topics about the new game and wider matters related to the pro basketball franchise.
In our interview, Van Vugt discusses things like the Nintendo Switch version of NBA 2K19, which is the second NBA 2K game for Switch following last year’s NBA 2K18. We also asked about how 2K felt about the 11th hour controversy last year when NBA 2K18 cover star Kyrie Irving was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics. We were also curious if that drama factored into 2K’s decision to use a close-up shot of LeBron on the NBA 2K19 20th Anniversary Edition to avoid a similar situation happening this year.
Some of the other topics that are covered in our discussion include how 2K is handling microtransactions this year in NBA 2K19 and if the WNBA might ever come to the series. GameSpot’s questions are in bold, with Van Vugt’s responses following below.
NBA 2K19 launches on September 7 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. It’s not the only new basketball game out that day, as EA’s NBA Live 19 also tips off then. Keep checking back with GameSpot for more on both games in the days and weeks ahead.
On Switch Version:
Switch owners can expect the exact same game as the other platforms, but obviously with the limitations of the Switch. When you go on the train, you won’t have any internet connection, so all the online modes will not be playable. I think they call it feature parity. So it’s going to be exactly the same game.
On Last Year’s Kyrie Cover Drama:
We had a lot of fun last year with Kyrie, because we did not know. It’s part of the game we’re in. We’re a yearly title, and all of our time lines are pretty short. Looking back at it, I can laugh about it now. We had a little thing going on internally about where do we think he’s going. We have four or five teams [in mind] and the Celtics was not one of them. We didn’t see that coming at all. A lot of the people love that they can now buy two versions: the Cavs version and the Boston version. For a lot of fans, that was really cool. Speaking for our creative teams, I hope it doesn’t happen again, ever, because there was a lot of hard work [involved with] getting [a new cover] turned around that quickly.
Was The Close Crop For LeBron On NBA 2K19 In Response To Last Year?
No. I’m not a marketeer. We have close relationship with Team LeBron, but that was definitely not the reason for [the close-up shot of LeBron on the cover]. When you talk to creative people who are actually behind the design of the cover, it might have played in the back of their head, but I don’t think it was the main reason.
On The Possibility Of Weird New Modes Coming To NBA 2K Like EA Is Doing With Its “Survival” Mode In FIFA 19:
NBA 2K is very much a simulation game. We try to simulate basketball as real as possible, and that’s the focus of the game. I’m not aware of anything like that going in the game, at least in NBA 2K19.
On NBA 2K’s Controversial Microtransactions:
We listen to our fans and we keep in mind what fans want. It’s closely looked at and balanced. We’re not just sitting there rubbing our hands.
On When Women Might Be Represented In An NBA 2K Game:
I think NBA 2K19 is the best game it has been so far, and I think focusing on the NBA is the main focus at [developer Visual Concepts]. Bringing in another league [like the WNBA] … it’s not easy to implement something like that.