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NBA Playgrounds 2 picks up 2K Sports as publisher

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Arcade basketball game will also take on 2K branding

NBA Playgrounds 2 - Dr. J dunking in San Francisco Saber Interactive

NBA Playgrounds 2 has a new publisher — 2K Sports.

The arcade-style basketball game will thus be rebranded as NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 when the game launches this fall. 2K Sports and Saber Interactive announced the deal in a statement this morning.

The game’s predecessor, NBA Playgrounds, was published by Mad Dog Games when it launched last May. Mad Dog was also behind this year’s Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.

“The original NBA Playgrounds was a fantastic throwback to the glory days of arcade-action sports,” Greg Thomas, the president of Visual Concepts (2K Sports’ studio), said in a statement. He added that the sequel will have “a bit of added NBA 2K flair.”

That may explain why NBA Playgrounds 2 was abruptly delayed one week before its original launch date, which was supposed to be in May. That was followed by canceled pre-orders and refunds, suggesting something other than a simple delay had happened.

“We can’t wait to share more on how we’re teaming up to make NBA 2K Playgrounds 2’s incredible arcade action bigger and better than ever for players,” Matt Karch, Saber’s chief executive, said in the statement.

Karch told Polygon the decision to go with 2K wasn’t because of any problems with Mad Dog. “Everyone feels that 2K gives the NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 the best chance for success and future growth,” he said.

For 2K’s part, Jason Argent, the senior vice president for basketball operations, said the partnership was a natural fit. “We couldn’t ignore the fact [the first NBA Playgrounds] sold about a million units, all digital,” he said. “With a solid foundation already built for the Playgrounds franchise, combined with 2K’s product development and marketing strengths, 2K and Saber agreed that a collaboration could lead to even greater success. Plus we’ve been pretty open about 2K’s desire to expand our footprint in the basketball games.”

The “2K flair” comment in the news release will be expanded upon later, Argent said; “There will be increased polish across the board and new gameplay components that we’ll announce in a few weeks,” he said.

We weren’t impressed by NBA Playgrounds, but with a focus on gameplay and the best-in-class muscle of NBA 2K’s publisher aboard, we hold out hope that the sequel can capture the evergreen appeal of arcade-style hoops. Saber has already said that the game would get an online ranked competition for its multiplayer and a Season Mode within single-player.

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 will launch this fall on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.