By Robert Marrujo:: The National Basketball Association is banking on digital b-ball. Partnering with 2K, the NBA will be working with the video game developer to create a new NBA 2K League. Brendan Donohue, who will be managing director of the league, spoke with GameIndustry.biz about the move, stating that he believes there's significant crossover between NBA fans and gamers. The belief is that there will be synergy between the NBA 2K League and fans of the real life NBA.
"We have great data on NBA fans, and that's a massive audience," said Donohue. "We see that NBA fans are more likely to play video games, and actually more likely to engage in esports than fans of other sports. We think there's a pretty nice marriage here." The league will be pacing itself as it develops, however, with only 17 teams of five players apiece to start. "That's what esports is - there should be no artificial intelligence in the game, so it'll be five vs five with real people controlling it," Donahue went on to say.
As noted by GameIndustry, this is a significant development in that this is the first time that an actual physical, professional sports league is actively partnering with an esports entity. Though there are plenty of pro athletes backing esports in various capacities, it's yet the latest proof that professional gaming is on the rise in this country.
"If you look at last year's League of Legends final, and their audience was bigger than the Oscars. That suggests that it's arrived," Donahue stated. "This is a long-term play for us. We expect this to be around for decades, so the primary goal is building an audience, doing that in the right way, and creating an environment where our players can be successful. We're confident the revenues will follow if we do that right."
More news as it develops...