The NBA2K League wrapped up week 10 (of 12, they also had 3 tournaments) of its inaugural season this past weekend, with 13 teams still vying for the 6 remaining playoff spots (Blazer5 Gaming & Knicks Gaming have already qualified). As the playoff chase has begun to heat up, so too have the league’s concurrent viewership figures; games that were drawing just 2,900 viewers/per in week 2, saw that figure increase 25,000/per during The Ticket Tournament (July 12-14). Eager to see exactly what had commanded a +760% viewership increase in just 8 weeks, JohnWallStreet attended Friday night’s Mavs Gaming vs. Magic Gaming contest (Magic won 74-58). Just prior to the game, JWS met up with Dimez (Artreyo Boyd), the league’s most marketable star to discuss gamer compensation, how the 2K league should market to the traditional sports fan and his plans post retirement.
JWS: You were the #1 overall pick and have been used as the face of the league, but take home the same salary as the rest of the league’s first round selections. Should you be paid more?
Dimez: Obviously, I would say yes because it’s me. I understand what you are saying though, because I have more things to do than everyone else. I represent the brand (NBA2KLeague), I represent the league’s brand (NBA), my own brand, the Mavs brand; so, I would love to be paid more.
JWS: You mentioned that the skills that make you a great NBA2K player transfer to other games. The natural follow-up question then becomes, why don’t you play a game that is more lucrative (it’s been reported Ninja makes $500K+/month playing Fortnite)?
Dimez: To be honest, I’m just not as good at it (Fortnite). I’m not going to say I’m as good as Ninja, Ninja is just different; he’s the best at the game of Fortnite, that’s who I watch. I’m just not as good as the pros are at their games. I couldn’t get on Call of Duty and beat Scump or Nadeshot in a 1v1. Then again, I haven’t put the time in either. I dedicate all my time, all my effort to 2K; this is where my passion is at. I’m not as passionate about those games as their pros are.
JWS: The league has shown tremendous growth between weeks 2 and 10, growing viewership +760%. Considering the platform though (Twitch), it’s likely many of those viewers are gamers themselves. How do you go about selling this product to the mainstream sports fan?
Dimez: Whenever I’m describing it, I compare it to the real NBA because that’s really what it is. Whether it’s excitement, big plays, dunks or trash talking, we give you everything the real NBA gives you. I describe the league as a literal mimic of the NBA. You have NBA teams. We’re playing 5v5. We’re all guarding one person. We have fans. We have everything that the actual NBA has.
JWS: Considering esports is in its infancy, it’s theoretically possible you could earn enough money gaming to one day acquire a team. Is ownership among your future goals?
Dimez: Yes, of course. Ownership, coaching, just being in the space in general. I’m always asking questions. I’m a player, but I want to know about the things that go on behind the scenes. The business part of it, the sponsorship part of it, partnerships, everything. I want to know everything about the space, so, I’m always asking questions. I definitely see myself owning a team, being a coach, whatever it takes. Like I said, I believe in it (esports); especially the 2K League.
Editor note: It’s been reported that each of the 17 NBA franchises participating in the inaugural season of the NBA2K League paid a $750,000 entry fee to join the league.
Howie Long-Short: The NBA2K League is a collaboration between the NBA and Take Two Interactive (TTWO), the publisher of NBA2K franchise. In May, the company issued strong results for fiscal FY18 reporting growth in “net bookings, earnings and cashflow, along with margin expansion”; and operating results that exceeded projections.
NBA2K18 is TTWO’s highest selling game of all-time with over 9 million copies (+17% YoY) sold. The company reported “average revenue per user, revenue per hour, and unique multiplayer users all increased double-digits” YoY and “recurrent consumer spending on NBA2K grew 34% to a new record.” It’s expected that the increased exposure generated by the 2K League will increase both recurrent spending on the game and game sales in fiscal 2019. The company will release Q1 ’19 financials on August 2nd.
Fan Marino: TTWO recently announced it will be publishing an arcade-style basketball game, (think: NBA Jam) entitled “NBA 2K Playgrounds 2”, this fall. I loved NBA Jam as a kid and the sales figures for the original “NBA Playgrounds” game (created by independent development studio, released in 2017) indicated interest in arcade-style games (publishers had stopped making them to focus on simulation-style games), so I love TTWO’s decision to release NBA Playgrounds; I just question the timing of the release. The fall is a historically tough time to sell games. Gamers spend much of their money on titles released in Aug/Sept. (think: Madden) and the competition from “other AAA video games is more intense during that season than at any other time of the year.”
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