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NBA 2K14 dev wanted to set the bar for next-gen games

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

If you ask people who have seen trailers for all the next-generation launch titles what they think best-looking game is, you're bound to see a significant portion of them tell you it's 2K Sports' NBA 2K14. The game's first full next-gen trailer has now been viewed over 1.3 million times on YouTube, an indication of the video's reach beyond fans of sports games. It's one of the few launch titles with graphics that really herald the arrival of the next generation of consoles, and are capable of turning heads in any room.

Fight Night Round 3 wasn't an Xbox 360 launch title — it didn't come out until February 2006 — but it was one of the earliest games of the current generation to really demonstrate what was possible in the high-definition era. NBA 2K14 seems to be playing that role this time around, and that's just what its developers at Visual Concepts attempted to do.

"When we built this, we built it with, 'We want to make the game look as real as it's ever been, and give [players] a gameplay experience that matches it.' And that's what we aimed for," said Rob Jones, senior producer on NBA 2K14, told Polygon yesterday after we played the PlayStation 4 version for one half.

The way Jones sees it, it's mostly up to developers to prove to consumers that it's worth spending hundreds of dollars on next-generation hardware.

"When [people] invest in a new console, they want to feel that (A) the graphics are the best graphics they've ever seen, (B) the games are taking full advantage of what peripherals and proprietary tech they're doing," said Jones. "They're looking to fully experience their next-generation console. Usually what's the best way? Well, usually you get it in two places. You get it in the best first-party game, and you get it in the game that looks the best."

How much a game makes people do double-takes is one of the easiest ways to assess the graphics in a realistic-looking title, and Jones believes that NBA 2K14 is up there with the best of them. The key, he explained, is to set a benchmark for the next generation — to give players a glimpse of what's now possible that wasn't before.

"People will [...] see our game on [a] kiosk, and they'll see a freeze-frame on LeBron James and they'll turn around and go, 'Hey, this looks real. This is what I've always wanted video games to look like,'" said Jones.

"You buy what you think everything else should look like, or should feel like. I think that that's what NBA 2K14 brings this year."

NBA 2K14 will be available at launch on PS4 and Xbox One. For more on the next-generation versions of the game, check out our recent preview and our detailed piece on the new MyGM mode.

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