NBA 2K21

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NBA 2K21
Developer(s)Visual Concepts
SeriesNBA 2K
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia
  • WW: September 4, 2020[1]
Xbox Series X/S
November 10, 2020
PlayStation 5
November 12, 2020
Arcade Edition (Apple Arcade)
April 2, 2021
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

NBA 2K21 is a 2020 basketball simulation video game developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K. The game is based on the National Basketball Association (NBA) and is the 22nd installment in the NBA 2K franchise, the successor to NBA 2K20, and the predecessor to NBA 2K22. The game was released on September 4, 2020, for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia, and the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S versions were released on the consoles' respective launch dates.[1][2] Most versions were released to heavy criticism, citing the lack of originality in the gameplay and many microtransactions and bugs.[3]

The NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition was released for Apple Arcade on April 2, 2021.[4][5]


A teaser of the game was released on June 11, 2020, during the PS5 Reveal Event and featured the player model of New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson. It showed a few seconds of pre-alpha, in-engine footage, and showed many effects, such as ray-tracing and shadow details.[6] On June 30, 2020, NBA 2K announced Damian Lillard, of the Portland Trail Blazers, would be the cover for the standard edition on the previous-generation consoles.[7] On July 1, 2020, NBA 2K announced Zion Williamson as the cover athlete for the standard edition of the next-generation consoles. The last covers were released on July 2, 2020, honoring the late Kobe Bryant. The demo for the game was released on August 24, 2020[8][9][10]



MyCareer, a major part of the series, returned as one of the available game modes. MyCareer is a career mode in which the player creates their own customizable basketball player and plays through their basketball career. Players may make a male or female player, although female player creation is exclusively available on next-gen consoles.[11] The Neighborhood also returns to MyCareer, as 2K Beach, in which players can customize their wardrobe, get haircuts and tattoos, and purchase boosts. They can also do workouts and run drills to improve their character's attributes at their current team's practice facility. Progress in MyCareer may not carry over across generations, due to some changes made exclusively for next-gen.[12]


In MyTeam, players collect cards of NBA players (current or past) to put on their team. This game mode has packs (or loot boxes) that can be purchased with Virtual Currency (VC) or My Team Points (MT). Players can also buy cards from each other at the auction house using VC or MT.

Ninth generation changes[edit]

In the next-generation release for the game, The MyCareer online staple The Neighborhood mode was rebranded into The City with the return of affiliations from NBA 2K16. Players start in Rookieville where they play similarly low-leveled players before they can choose an affiliation to enter The City. MyRep, the level system exclusive to The City mode, is shared across all MyPlayer builds, so players only have to level up out of Rookieville once for all their characters. Once a player levels out of Rookieville, they are automatically assigned without choice to one of four of The City's affiliations, ranging from the North Side Knights, South City Vipers, Beasts of the East, and the Western Wildcats. Players are free to switch their affiliation, however they are penalized for doing so by their level being reset down to Pro 1, the same level the player was upon leaving Rookieville. Although the player can play in affiliations that they are not a member of, there is a penalty by reducing the amount of MyRep experience gained in matches. Players can participate in quests given by NPCs, which are either single-player 3v3 games against famous basketball players, or playing games against other MyPlayers in The City. The rewards are typically VC and customizations.[13]

Every affiliation has elections for a Mayor, which are typically community influencers who are responsible for making videos that display in-game, court designs, in-game playlists, design of murals, and uniform selections. Each mayoral term lasts 6 weeks.[13]

Franchise mode[edit]

NBA 2K21 features both MyLeague and MyGM from previous games, where the player can take the helm of a franchise and fully simulate an NBA season while making trades, drafting, and playing games with their teams. Compared to prior titles, eighth-generation console releases of NBA 2K21 were left with little changes for their staple franchise modes, MyLeague and MyGM. Outside of roster changes, the main changes focuses with MyLeague Online where certain users can be given different admin controls. WNBA teams were also given more representation as players were now able to play through a whole season with all 12 teams.[14][unreliable source?]

Ninth generation changes[edit]

In the game's Xbox Series X/S and PS5 release, MyGM and MyLeague were combined and rebranded into MyNBA. Instead of the role-playing aspects such as cutscenes, player morale, and tasks being locked solely to MyGM, they are now individually toggleable under role-playing elements before one starts MyNBA. NBA G League games are also playable as well, however playoffs and the championship for the NBA G League are not featured. The boom/bust system was also revamped, giving more unpredictability to draft prospects and young players in terms of how their career will turn out.[15]


NBA 2K21 received "mixed or average" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic, and "generally favorable reviews" on the ninth-generation consoles.[16][17][18][19][20][21]

Michael Higham from GameSpot gave the game a score of 6-out-of-10. He states "NBA 2K21 shows that the lone basketball sim we have now has largely stagnated. It's a full package, for sure, but one that demonstrates little-to-no motivation to meaningfully improve upon itself. That doesn't take away from the strong foundation that makes NBA 2K a fun and rewarding time. However, when you go through the same grind and the same process with only superficial changes, you just get burnt out faster than years prior."[23]

Ben Vollmer from IGN gave the game a score of 6 out of 10, stating "More of the same isn't good enough anymore, especially when it includes such obtrusive microtransactions." Vollmer also says "At the same time, it's a shame that 2K's focus isn't on the fun you can have on the court, but instead the money that can be extracted from your wallet off of the court in the MyCareer and MyTeam modes, whist aren't fun to grind through without paying. Maybe the new set of consoles on the horizon will bring a fresh start for the NBA 2K franchise, but right now I feel more pessimistic about the series’ future than ever."[25]

The PlayStation 4 version of NBA 2K21 sold 8,541 physical copies within its first week on sale in Japan, making it the seventh bestselling retail game of the week.[30] The game had sold more than 8 million copies by the end of December 2020.[31]

It was nominated in the category of Best Sports/Racing Game at The Game Awards 2020,[32] as well as Sports Game of the Year at the 24th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards.[33]


  1. ^ a b Bankhurst, Adam (July 2, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Current-Gen Release Date Revealed, Next-Gen Version $10 More Expensive". IGN. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  2. ^ Good, Owen S. (August 22, 2020). "Which edition of NBA 2K21 should you buy?". Polygon. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "Review | 'NBA 2K21' review: Why should I buy this game (again)?". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  4. ^ "NBA® 2K21 Arcade Edition Launches Today on Apple Arcade". April 2, 2021.
  5. ^ "Apple Arcade launches its biggest expansion yet, growing its award-winning catalog to more than 180 games". April 2, 2021.
  6. ^ NBA 2K21: Official PS5 Teaser Trailer (In-Engine), retrieved November 5, 2022
  7. ^ "Zion Williamson, Damian Lillard named cover athletes for NBA 2K21 |". Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  8. ^ Helin, Kurt (June 13, 2020). "Zion Williamson is the focus of NBA 2K21's just released teaser trailer". ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports.
  9. ^ Wilson, Ben (March 1, 2020). "NBA 2K21 release date, cover, Kobe Bryant plans, and everything you need to know". GamesRadar+.
  10. ^ Mazique, Brian (June 15, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Secret Decoded, More Details Revealed From Package Tease". Forbes.
  11. ^ Good, Owen S. (August 28, 2020). "NBA 2K21's player creation will include women, but not until next generation". Polygon. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  12. ^ Lister, Bishop (July 22, 2021). "Does NBA 2K22 have cross-gen progession?". Pro Game Guides. Retrieved October 5, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Web, 2K. "NBA 2K21 Next-Gen The City COURTSIDE REPORT". NBA 2K. Retrieved November 24, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Mazique, Brian. "NBA 2K21: MyCareer, MyGM, MyLeague Current-Gen Details Revealed". Forbes. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  15. ^ "NBA 2K21 Next-Gen: MyNBA is the new MyGM/MyLEAGUE Experience". 2K Support. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "NBA 2K21 for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  17. ^ a b "NBA 2K21 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "NBA 2K21 for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "NBA 2K21 for PlayStation 5 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  20. ^ a b "NBA 2K21 for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "NBA 2K21 for Xbox Series X Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  22. ^ Wallace, Kimberley (September 17, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Review – Living Off The Legacy". Game Informer. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Higham, Michael (September 24, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Review – Ball Another Day". GameSpot. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  24. ^ Wells, Cory (September 12, 2020). "Review: NBA 2K21". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  25. ^ a b Vollmer, Ben (September 10, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Review". IGN. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  26. ^ Vollmer, Ben (November 17, 2020). "NBA 2K21 for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 Review". IGN. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  27. ^ Scullion, Chris (September 9, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Review (Switch)". Nintendo Life. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  28. ^ Ronaghan, Neal (September 9, 2020). "NBA 2K21 (Switch) Review". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  29. ^ Barker, Sammy (September 10, 2020). "NBA 2K21 Review (PS4)". Push Square. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  30. ^ Romano, Sal (September 10, 2020). "Famitsu Sales: 8/31/20 – 9/6/20". Gematsu. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  31. ^ Calvin, Alex (February 9, 2021). "$70 price hike hasn't stopped NBA 2K21 selling 8 million copies". VG 247. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  32. ^ Tassi, Paul (December 11, 2020). "Here's The Game Awards 2020 Winners List With A Near-Total 'Last Of Us' Sweep". Forbes.
  33. ^ "2021 Awards Category Details Sports Game of the Year". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved December 2, 2023.

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