NBA 2K14 will feature Miami Heat forward LeBron James on its cover when the game launches later this year on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, publisher Take-Two Interactive announced today.
The PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions will be released Oct. 1 in North America and Oct. 4 worldwide. The PS4 and Xbox One versions are scheduled to be launch titles for those respective consoles; both systems are set for release in 2013.
During a conference call with members of the media earlier today, Jason Argent, senior vice president of sports operations for Take-Two's 2K Sports division, confirmed that the company will not release a Wii U version of NBA 2K14. Last year's game, NBA 2K13, was a Wii U launch title, but Argent said 2K Sports decided to concentrate its resources on the platforms it announced for NBA 2K14.
Asked about the feature sets of the current-generation and next-generation versions of NBA 2K14, Argent said "there's some overlap," but noted that they'll be "very unique, independent, distinct experiences from one another." The current-generation versions, at least, will feature a new mode called Path to Greatness, which will feature cover athlete LeBron James.
Fans can pre-order the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of NBA 2K14 for the King James Bonus Pack, which comes with unspecified extra content for Path to Greatness; an unlock of James in Blacktop mode; James' Signature Skill for MyPlayer, the career mode; and 10,000 Virtual Currency for the MyTeam trading card mode.
You can see James discuss his involvement with NBA 2K14 in the brief video below.
2K Sports announced James as the NBA 2K14 cover athlete with the "Reign Begins" TV spot above, which aired just before tip-off of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat tonight. James, who began his career in 2003 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, has never appeared on the cover of a video game before.
"The fact that he's never been on a video game cover before helped build the mystique of LeBron," said Argent. "We believe there's been some pent-up demand."
James was the biggest possible "get" for 2K Sports, the next logical step in the label's continued escalation of NBA 2K cover athletes. NBA 2K10 featured Kobe Bryant in 2009, and the next year, NBA 2K11 launched with Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, on its cover along with the in-game Jordan Challenge mode. When NBA 2K12 brought in three legends — Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird — it introduced the NBA's Greatest mode, a tour of basketball history. And last year, 2K Sports went with three superstars from the modern NBA: Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin.
According to Argent, James is "actively involved" in shaping NBA 2K14, just as Jay-Z, as the executive producer of NBA 2K13, influenced the style of that game.
"It's not our style to slap someone on the cover and call it a day," Argent added. "We always make use of their expertise to make a better game."
You can check out the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC box art for NBA 2K14 below.