‘NBA 2K21’ Introduces First-Ever WNBA Career Mode Called ‘The W’

KEY POINTS

  • “NBA 2K21” introduces  a single-player career mode for a women’s professional league
  • Last year’s “NBA 2K20” introduced the WNBA in the gaming franchise
  • Female athletes were previously found more in games for individual sports 

In a true first, the next-gen versions of “NBA 2K21” are adding the first-ever single-player career mode featuring a women’s professional league.

Confirmed for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of “NBA 2K 21,” players will also be allowed to direct a WNBA team or all 12 WNBA teams in the MyWNBA franchise mode.   

With women’s professional sports becoming more recognized than ever, Visual Concepts added the WNBA to last year’s “NBA 2K20” and the 12-team league became playable in MyLeague mode. By adding the female equivalent of MyCareer mode, however, “NBA 2K21” is allowing female ballers to find more representation for their own hoop dreams.

“Being able to recognize yourself both on and off the court is incredibly important to us,” Felicia Steenhouse, a senior producer with Visual Concepts, said in the “NBA 2K21” Courtside Report. “The W helps us elevate women’s basketball and highlights the star power of the WNBA.”

The W allows players to create their own WNBA player and place her on any of the following franchises: the Seattle Storm, Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Chicago Sky, Dallas Wings, New York Liberty, Indiana Fever, Connecticut Sun, Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, and Phoenix Mercury.

MyWNBA is the WNBA equivalent of the MyGM mode in previous “NBA 2K” titles but with features specific to the league, its players, and the growth of the WNBA franchises. The WNBA will also be featured in The W Online, a mode that involves 3×3 games in an exclusive venue/court not available anywhere else.

There is no confirmation as of late on whether the features will be in the version of the game that was launched in September for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC, Polygon said.

This past WNBA season was played in a bubble similar to the latter part of the NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, only 22 regular season games were played before the Seattle Storm took on the Las Vegas Aces in the Finals.

The Storm, led by veteran Sue Bird and eventual Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, swept the best-of-five Finals for the franchise’s fourth WNBA Championship. It was a time punctuated by social justice issues across the country and the WNBA was at the forefront of the campaign.

Team sports have often proven a difficult avenue to add female athletes in as they’ve found more success in individual sports video games featuring tennis, golf, and even mixed martial arts. It was actually “NBA Live 18” that first introduced WNBA players and teams, and it even added a mixed-gender competition. 

Sue Bird Seattle Storm WNBA Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm low fives Breanna Stewart #30 while wearing a Vote Warnock T-shirt during the second half

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NBA 2K21 gives WNBA players a career mode with The W



a woman standing in front of a crowd: The W is video gaming’s first single-player career mode for a women’s team sport. In NBA 2K21 on next-gen consoles, players may create a WNBA player and build out her career on any of the league’s 12 teams.


© Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
The W is video gaming’s first single-player career mode for a women’s team sport. In NBA 2K21 on next-gen consoles, players may create a WNBA player and build out her career on any of the league’s 12 teams.

NBA 2K21 on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series will introduce The W, the first-ever single-player career mode to feature a women’s professional league. The next-gen version of 2K Sports’ flagship will also allow players to direct a WNBA team, or the entire league, in a franchise mode called MyWNBA.

“Being able to recognize yourself both on and off the court is incredibly important to us,” Felicia Steenhouse, a senior producer with Visual Concepts, said in a statement on Thursday. “The W helps us elevate women’s basketball, and highlights the star power of the WNBA.”

In The W, players may create their own WNBA player and place her on any of the WNBA’s 12 franchises, playing among all of the league’s current athletes. MyWNBA is a dedicated mode akin to NBA 2K’s MyGM mode but for WNBA teams, with features specific to that league and its players’ and franchises’ growth.

In online multiplayer, the WNBA will be featured in The W Online, which involves three-on-three cooperative/competitive games in a venue exclusive to that mode. It does not sound as though female avatars will be a part of the much larger MyPlayer population, which offers The Rec, The Park, and other multiplayer options through a hub world environment.

More will be known when NBA 2K21 launches for Xbox Series X on Nov. 10, and for PlayStation 5 on Nov. 12.

Nevertheless, it brings a women’s league to parity with its male counterpart in a team sports video game for the first time. Visual Concepts added the WNBA to the game last year, where its 12 teams were playable in one-off competition and the MyLeague mode. But the single-player career of NBA 2K’s MyCareer suite, with numerous role-playing and lifestyle features, is by far the game’s dominant mode of play.

There’s no confirmation that these features will be in the version of the game that launched in September for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC. Visual Concepts executive producer Erick Boenisch said in August the WNBA would be coming to MyCareer, but held off on any other details at the time.

Women’s professional sports have made intermittent advances in sports video games over the past decade, mostly in individual sports, where women have had an historically stronger presence. Tennis games have had women professionals for decades. The defunct Tiger Woods PGA Tour series had a full LPGA career in its final edition seven years ago. EA Sports’ UFC franchise has, in its past three installments, included women fighters with a career experience at full parity with male fighters.

In team sports, progress has been slower coming. EA Sports’ NHL series first allowed created female avatars in its Be a

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