Few video games reach trending topic status on Twitter. It's the sort of thing normally accorded to disasters, celebrities and global news. NBA 2K11 has been a trending topic every day since Monday, for 57 hours straight at one point.
For those who argue this year's game has become a phenomenon, the Twitter numbers would seem to back it up. NBA 2K11 has done an inhuman amount of traffic over the social network. The game's full title was a trending topic from 8am Monday, through all of its Tuesday release, until 5pm Wednesday.
It hit trending status five more times on Thursday and another three times today, holding that title for 78 out of the past 98 hours.
This is, to be sure, a measure of hype, not the game's quality (although, take it from us, NBA 2K11 is pretty solid in that regard.) But among video games, particularly sports video games, this is nearly unprecedented. Madden, Halo and Call of Duty are the titles most likely to have a national-event launch. NBA 2K11, though a solid performer in past years, practically came out of nowhere. And to hold this status over more than two straight days is eye-popping.
"We are thrilled at the response to the game," said Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports, which supplied these figures to Kotaku via the social media monitoring service Radian6.
2K Sports has a very involved community management operation that has been very responsive, via Twitter, in the weeks leading up to the release. But that was largely fan service to the hardcore. What created the tsunami on Monday? The affection for Michael Jordan, who returns with a singleplayer mode dedicated to recreating his career, absolutely played a role as celebrities rushed to tweet their enthusiasm for him and the game.
There were 86 Twitter accounts with 100,000 or more followers who tweeted about NBA 2K11; of these 25 were retweeted more than 100 times. Big names doing the tweeting included Snoop Dogg (who appears in the game and has done promotional work for it), 50 Cent, ESPN and even Vinny from the reality show Jersey Shore.
Among the whole of Twitter, NBA 2K11 registered 233,317 tweets - that does not include retweets - Monday through Wednesday. That's one every 1.1 seconds.
Elsewhere, the game seems to be doing as well as this kind of buzz would indicate. Gamasutra's analysis of Amazon's sales data has the Xbox 360 and the PS3 versions of NBA 2K11 both ahead of Halo: Reach in North America.