The National Basketball Association (NBA) is looking to cash in where EA already has with its FIFA and Madden franchises. Thanks to San Francisco, Calif.-based developer Lionside, the NBA will release NBA Legend to Facebook this week, New York Times (NYT) reports. The game will serve as the next level in the organization's ongoing social media campaign. NBA Legend is expected to play similarly to existing sports games on Facebook: Players will create an NBA athlete, join a team and accumulate points through a career to increase their standing in the NBA. In other words, there won't be much hoops action here.
You're probably wondering why the NBA decided to go with a developer other than EA's Playfish--EA is licensed to publish annual NBA games for consoles. One word can explain it all: control. The NBA wants direct control over the future of NBA Legend, whereas quality control over the NBA console games diminishes after the disc hits store shelves. The organization plans for this Facebook game to remain relevant to the goings-on of future NBA seasons. Because of this, SVP and general manager of digital operations Brian Perez wanted more direct involvement, NYT reports.
"Our console gaming business is mostly a licensing business, where we're approached by game developers," said Perez to NYT. "We are an actual partner in this business. That was the important part here." While more control over the game's quality is important, the NBA also wants control over the game's revenue.
NBA Legend, like most social games, will offer virtual goods for real cash (likely Facebook Credits) like virtual shoes and sports drinks, according to NYT. The NBA boasts one of the largest social media followings in all professional sports, according to NYT. But whether players will get hooked on this game like they are to Lebron James' Twitter account is up in the air. NBA Legend is set to launch on Facebook this week.
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