2K Sports announces that the entirety of the Women's National Basketball League (WNBA) will be included in the upcoming NBA 2K20. The latest in the gaming franchise will be released next month.
The NBA 2K series has been an annual franchise since its first appearance in 1999, releasing new titles every year to keep fans coming back. However, up until now, the video game series has only featured male NBA players and teams. With this latest announcement, though, that's finally changed.
In a recent Facebook blog post, it was revealed NBA 2K20 will include each and every current member that makes up the 12 teams of the WNBA, effectively doubling the usual number of playable athletes in the game. According to the game's Lead Character Artist, Ann Sidenblad, the developers worked hard to ensure that all the WNBA models would have all the unique features and functionality of their male counterparts, going as far as to build an entirely new character hair system from the ground up and recording somewhere between 3000-5000 new animations.
In the post, NBA 2K producer Felicia Steenhouse emphasized that not just women players, but women's basketball itself, will be properly portrayed in NBA 2K20. By including multiple talented WNBA players like Maite Cazorla (from the Atlantic Dream) and Candace Parker (of the LA Sparks) in the motion capture process, 2K was able to learn a lot about what makes the WNBA unique, both on and off the court. An accompanying video (above) was released along with the blog post that showcases some of the new animations as well as a little bit of history behind the WNBA's top players.
Although there have been some derisive, obscene, and at times sexist responses following the announcement, 2K Sports has not been deterred. When reached for comment in a recent Kotaku article that highlighted some of the nastier takes, a 2K spokesperson said they take great pride in bringing the women's game to NBA 2K fans and said, "It doesn't matter who is playing - if you love the game, you love the game." For the community's part, it seems like a pretty even split down the middle, with just as many fans coming to the defense of the WNBA's inclusion as there were people complaining about it, even as real NBA 2K issues like cramming microtransactions into their games have been unaddressed.
While not the first high-profile basketball game to break through this particular barrier (EA's NBA Live included the WNBA in 2017) NBA 2K20 is a good step forward for the inclusion of women in gaming, although it's surprising that both the standard and deluxe editions still feature male athletes on the game's cover. One would think that, with NBA 2K19 still the reigning basketball game on the market and the sequel being the first in such a long-running series to feature women players as well, their inclusion on the cover of at least one of the game's editions would be an obvious choice.