With a roster of over 200 players that includes Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Steph Curry and other NBA Legends, we couldn’t be more excited to announce NBA Playgrounds, a brand-new arcade basketball game built on the Unreal 4 engine, coming soon to Xbox One. Basketball has become an international sport and it shouldn’t be surprising that our game, NBA Playgrounds, has been worked on collaboratively by members of my team at Saber Interactive in locations that span the globe. But how did this game all come together?
The idea for Playgrounds came about years ago, when my “dad band” performed at a backyard party for one of the executives in the NBA. Look me up on YouTube… on second thought, don’t. That location is where most good ideas originate: the great state of New Jersey. If you don’t believe me, just look up where the lightbulb, phonograph, and the sloppy joe were created. I’m lying about the phonograph, I don’t know where it was created, but considering it’s something we industry veterans can remember from our youth means we are old. But it also means we remember the Showtime Lakers, the real Boston Garden and the first Isiah Thomas. But I digress.
So I have an idea and the support of the NBA, but where do I make this game? My team in Russia is fantastic, but their expertise has always been focused on the shooter/action space. We made a game called TimeShift back in the day, we remade two Halo games and are now developing one of the greatest shooters known to man: Quake Champions. And besides, can you even name more than one Russian basketball player? For hockey, Russia is my go-to destination, for basketball it’s not the first place that comes to mind. In my opinion it’s not the right fit to make this game. My team agrees. So, what do we do?
Well, we do what any Jewish boy from the suburbs would do — we go looking for Jesus. And fortunately for me, Jesus lives in Madrid, Spain and can quite literally pull off the miracles that people think of when that holy name is mentioned.
When I speak of Jesus, of course, I am referring to Jesus Iglesias (I want to be reborn with that name). A long-time industry vet, basketball nut, and incredible developer. Jesus assembles a team of all-stars with experience in exactly the type of game that we are building. The new streetball game we have all been waiting for is on its way.
But like I mentioned, this is an international story and so it can’t end in Madrid. It moves over to Kiev, where our Ukrainian studio, comprised of guys who worked on S.T.A.L.K.E.R, gets to work on building those Playgrounds that we so desperately need from New York to London to Shanghai and beyond. And while Kiev is pounding out the playgrounds, our Russian studio is building all the characters that we so love and want to be in another life from Shaq to LeBron to Westbrook.
Meanwhile, back in the good old USA, we have other components hard at work. We have the legend Allen Iverson in North Carolina as more than just the face of Playgrounds. We have the great broadcaster Ian Eagle recording voices with EJ “The Mayor” the voice of Rucker Park. We have Steve Molitz, who has played with everyone from Alice Cooper to the Grateful Dead, on music in NYC, and on both coasts we have a mini-marketing dream team trying to promote this not-so-little indie game to become the next big name in arcade basketball.
So, like basketball – this incredible international sport – this game is as international as it gets. What started as a crazy idea during a mediocre rendition of “Brown-eyed Girl” has become a real thing. I can say that of the dozens of games I have worked on over the years, I am most proud of this one. I absolutely can’t wait to release it and to see you all on the virtual playgrounds.