College Basketball Is Officially Dead To Video Games

For years, 2K Sports maintained server support for the final edition of its defunct series, like All-Pro Football 2K8, NHL 2K10, and, most importantly College Hoops 2K8, where a robust user community was updating, re-rating and sharing rosters well into this year.

It now appears online support for all of these titles was quietly pulled at the beginning of this month.

The only 2K Sports titles with confirmed online support today are 2011’s Top Spin 4, Major League Baseball 2K12, and, of course, NBA 2K13. I booted into College Hoops 2K8, All-Pro Football 2K8, and even NBA 2K12 and got messages saying 2K Sports servers were offline in each one. Kotaku has reached out to 2K Sports representatives for clarification.

The server shutdowns are significant because it effectively means the end of College Hoops 2K8‘s roster sharing community. Though the game was canceled in early 2008, its online support — and the ability to share edited rosters with real-world, re-rated performers — continued through this autumn. All Pro Football 2K8, the spiritual heir to the beloved NFL 2K5, no longer has online multiplayer. NBA 2K12 likewise has no online support, at last check.

In 2011 EA Sports shut down online support, including roster sharing, for its NCAA Basketball series, which as a physical release outlived College Hoops by a year and was canceled after its November 2009 release. Theoretically, rosters may still be shared among PC gamers playing College Hoops 2K8 or playing college mods of 2K Sports’ NBA series, but this is effectively the death of college basketball in console video gaming.

NBA 2K12 gamers first noticed the outage, according to this thread, begun three weeks ago. They pointed to this message on 2K Sports’ Forums, saying the servers for everything but MLB 2K12 and NBA 2K13 went dark on Nov. 1. I checked and was still able to create matches and connect to other players in Top Spin 4, 2K Sports’ acclaimed tennis simulation released in 2011.

College basketball has long been a problematic licence for sports publishers. Though the NCAA has a billion-dollar television contract for its championship tournament and summons millions of viewers in North America in March, titles under its licence released in November, typically at the end of the simulation sports publishing cycle, and were cannibalised by the professional basketball games. College sports simulations also face the threat of litigation; a lawsuit currently in U.S. federal court claims the NCAA and its licensed games publishers — i.e. EA Sports — unlawfully used actual amateur players’ likenesses.

EA Sports developed a roster-sharing feature through its console games in response to the NCAA’s unwillingness to licence the use of its athletes’ real names. 2K Sports’ “roster share” feature, which arrived later in its College Hoops title, was similar in structure.

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