Reload Your Mind

How NBA Live distinguishes itself by giving fans an option

NBA Live 18 screenshot

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NBA Live and NBA 2k18 are very different games. But fans deserve to have the ability to choose.

Brett Luft

By Brett Luft

I have a confession to make: I don’t play many sports games. Or rather, I don’t buy sports games. I try to stay on top of all types of games, but sports games have always been the most difficult. But I was raised on sports games. NHL 97 on the SNES and NHL 99 on the N64 were some of the more memorable games of my childhood — next to classics like GoldenEye or Super Mario World.

Things started to fall apart after I started university. I had to budget for video games. There wasn’t any reason to budget for games that had almost the same experience year after year. I chose to spend money on games with an engaging story or experiences defined by the group playing with me.

But now I can afford sports games, and there isn’t a better time to jump back on the bandwagon. That’s because there is competition in sports games for the first time in years. Allow me to explain.

NBA Live brings back competition

It probably sounds strange when I say competition has returned to sports games. The competitive aspect didn’t leave sports games. What I mean is there’s competition in the sports game industry.

For years individual voices have dominated the industry. EA Sports dominates hockey, soccer, and football. Basketball is dominated by 2K. And Sony dominates baseball. A lack of competitiveness makes it easy to become complacent. Look at NHL for a good example of this, as those games haven’t had a drastic makeover for years.

But that’s changed for the first time in years, as EA Sports has returned with NBA Live 18This is exciting because it means there’s a driving force pushing the sports gaming industry forward: 2K is no longer the only force in basketball games.

Creating balance

Over the weekend I picked up NBA Live 18 and my roommate purchased NBA 2K18. I haven’t played either long enough to write an informed opinion on the quality of the games, but I have noticed that the experience overall has been pretty positive.

NBA 2K18 continues to bridge the gap between sports game and RPG. You can hit the gym with others in open-world experiences, you can unlock rewards to boost your character’s skills, and you can even run to Foot Locker to pick up some new shoes. And NBA Live 18 has shown that teams can recover from years of disappointment.

NBA Live 18 isn’t a bad game. It’s had many speed bumps along the way, but the game feels complete and its story mode is pretty engaging for newcomers. Its mechanics top NBA 2K18 in some avenues, such as its new defence mechanics and some of the GM mode features. But more importantly, it’s separated itself to be a different experience than 2K’s counterpart.

NBA Live 18 succeeds in being a pickup and play basketball game, where NBA 2K18 strives to be a difficult-to-master sports simulation experience. This is exactly what the industry needs. Not everybody needs to feel like they have to understand every facet of a sport to be able to play a video game, but instead consumers should have two choices to make: simulation or experience.

NBA 2K18 and NBA Live 18 complement each other well because they cater to different ends of the spectrum. They don’t need to be compared because they offer two different looks at sports gaming. One is a simulation, the other is an experience. Some can play basketball, others choose to consume it as entertainment. It’s nice to see gamers finally have the ability to make that choice.