NHL 2K is a series of hockey games by 2K Sports for the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, iPhone, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Wii. Initially discontinued after the release of NHL 2K11 in 2010, the brand was revived on mobile devices in 2014. The games are officially licensed from the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association. While its games were released on consoles, its main competition was EA Sports' NHL video games.
The NHL 2K series first appeared on the Dreamcast on February 7, 2000 as part of an exclusive lineup of SEGA Sports titles. Its success led to it becoming one of the few Sega All Stars titles. A year later the developers did not release NHL 2K1, and instead opted to take a break to focus on the follow-up, NHL 2K2. NHL 2K2 was the last game released in all of North America for the Sega Dreamcast.
Multi-platform and new license
NHL 2K3 was released on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube. It was the first in the series to feature a franchise mode, and the Xbox version was the first online console hockey game. It had many improvements over its predecessor, although players complained that goalies were too hard to score on. It addressed some issues like scoring, and presentation, and was acknowledged as an exceptional sports title. Even with the lockout looming, video game fans didn't have to worry about the series being put on hiatus, as ESPN NHL 2K5 was released on August 30, 2004. Because Sega had signed a deal with Take-Two Interactive in which Global Star Software (Take-Two's low-price unit) distributed and co-published all titles in Sega's ESPN franchise, ESPN NHL 2K5 was priced at US$19.99 the day it shipped—versus the typical new-release price of US$49.99. This earned it a wide audience among more casual hockey fans on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. However, EA soon signed an agreement with ESPN to become the sole licensee of ESPN's brand in sports games on all platforms.
NHL 2K6 and 2K7
Nevertheless, NHL 2K6 was soon released, again at US$19.99, with a new deeper franchise mode, as well as other new extras (such as Bob Cole and Harry Neale providing commentary). With the Xbox 360 coming out, NHL 2K6 was released as a launch title, with a new 'goalie control' feature. NHL 2K7's new features consist of all new animations, mainly geared towards skating, and 'Cinemotion' which is designed to capture the intensity of hockey through close up angles and orchestral music.
NHL 2K8 was released in September 2007. The game features an all new face-off system which includes tie-ups, warnings, jostling, and penalties. The game also includes a new goaltending engine with improved goalies that react according to the situation. Goalies will challenge the puck carrier when appropriate, perform spectacular butterfly saves, and guard the post. Other mini features include variable attendance, better graphics, a new skating engine, authentic player equipment, and more. Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators was on the cover.
NHL 2K9 was released in September 2008. Columbus Blue Jackets' captain Rick Nash is the cover athlete. NHL 2K9 was released on the Wii console in addition to the PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This makes it the first NHL licensed game on the Wii.
NHL 2K10 was released on September 15, 2009 with Washington Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin on the 10th Anniversary cover. It was released to lukewarm reviews on next gen consoles, but very solid scores on the much improved Wii version, which now sported online play, Mii Integration, and Wii MotionPlus. This is also the last game in the series to be released on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360.
NHL 2K11 was released on September 7, 2010. This time, the game was only available on the iPhone and the Nintendo Wii. On March 3, 2010 CEO Ben Feder explained that "We have decided to reevaluate our NHL strategy and will only be releasing NHL 2K11 for the Wii in fiscal year 2010. We want to become a stronger competitor in this category and taking a year off on PS3 and Xbox 360, while focusing on making the best possible game for Wii, should allow us to accomplish that goal." Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler is the cover athlete for the game.
Discontinuation of the series
NHL 2K fans on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles were, after a one-year hiatus, expecting NHL 2K12 to be released on both consoles. But on May 25, 2011, 2K Sports confirmed that NHL 2K12 would not be released on any platform, putting the NHL 2K series on hiatus for three years.
Return of the series
In September 2014, 2K Sports announced that the series would return exclusively on the iOS and Android platforms. Ryan Kesler returns as the cover athlete for the game, this time wearing the Anaheim Ducks' colors, which is taking the title of NHL 2K.
|Title||Release date||Console(s)||Cover Athlete|
|NHL 2K||February 9, 2000||Dreamcast||Brendan Shanahan|
|NHL 2K2||February 14, 2002||Dreamcast||Chris Drury|
|NHL 2K3||November 19, 2002||PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube||Jeremy Roenick|
|ESPN NHL Hockey||September 9, 2003||PlayStation 2, Xbox||Jeremy Roenick|
|ESPN NHL 2K5||August 30, 2004||PlayStation 2, Xbox||Martin St. Louis|
|NHL 2K6||September 6, 2005||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox||USA: Marty Turco, Europe/Canada: Mats Sundin|
|NHL 2K7||September 12, 2006||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3||Joe Thornton|
|NHL 2K8||September 11, 2007||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3||Jason Spezza|
|NHL 2K9||September 9, 2008||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii||Rick Nash|
|NHL 2K10||September 15, 2009||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii||Alexander Ovechkin|
|NHL 2K11||August 24, 2010||Wii, iPhone||Ryan Kesler|
|NHL 2K||October 23, 2014||iOS, Android||Ryan Kesler|
- NHL 2K9 Cover Athlete Announcement Operation Sports
- 2K Sports Announces NHL(R) 2K9 as First Official NHL and NHLPA Licensed Hockey Video Game for the Wii Console
- "Canucks forward Kesler to appear on cover of NHL 2K11". The Sports Network. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2011-07-19.[dead link]
- Good, Owen (2011-05-25). "NHL 2K12 Ain’t Happening". Kotaku. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- NHL 2K10 official website
- NHL 2K9 official website
- NHL 2K8 official website
- NHL 2K7 official website
- NHL 2K6 official website