by Gerald Flores
It started with Allen Iverson's Reebok Answer IVs in the first NBA 2K videogame. Now every marquee player's signature sneaker, from LeBron James to Derrick Rose, is represented in the long-running basketball videogame franchise. But what goes into bringing these sneakers into this virtual world? We spoke to the game’s senior producer Rob Jones to get the scoop.
NBA 2K was the first video game to have a signature sneaker in the game in 1999. How have sneakers grown to become a bigger part of the series?
Sneakers have always been a huge part of the culture. However, in the original NBA games, getting the appropriate shoes was a secondary task to getting the game to reflect the NBA. With the advent of the newer systems (both last gen and current gen), we have so much more power to replicate the same styles that players are wearing on the court and our fans expect that fidelity from us. We’re not just signature style due to moves, but also due to hair, tattoos, accessories and now shoes
Why are sneakers an important part of the gaming experience?
Well, they are important for two reasons. The first is that our customers want us to accurately replicate what they see their heroes wearing at a game. Secondly, and probably most importantly, is that sneakers are now fashion and they are part of your daily wardrobe as a specific accessory. So, as a user, I want a sneaker that perfectly complements my style and makes me unique on the court. Having the official brands in there and all the latest kicks is awesome because I can have a closet of shoes that I would probably not be able to afford in real life.
So what sneakers are featured in the NBA 2K15?
We have every major brand represented in NBA 2K15. From Nike, to Jordan, to Reebok and adidas. We don’t specifically feature any particular shoe, we feature the entire line of shoes that a brand sells.
Describe the process of working with sneaker brands on incorporating their products in the games?
It’s definitely a labor of love. We reach out to the sneaker brands and ask for all the shoes that their sponsored athletes are wearing. We also will often request shoes that are rarer and releasing for some of the NBA’s more popular players. Once received in house, we scan the shoes, and have our artists recreate them so that we can put them in game. The beauty of the game is that users who don’t run to the store all the time can actually see product that they might never get their hands on. We hope to be fostering the love to the shoe game for those who haven’t developed it yet.
What's next for incorporating sneakers in the NBA 2K Series?
Well, for us a lot better fidelity of details. We’ve done a great job, but we need to step up the number of models and details that we deliver to the user. My dream is that when a shoe releases in the store, the alternate shoe releases in the game, so that the user can always stay fresh.