As it turns out, that delay was due to developer Saber Interactive finalizing a publishing deal with 2K–hence the “2K” now in the game’s name. It’s a deal which Saber CEO Matthew Karch says has been very positive for the game. “The most fundamental change is that it’s just been improved in every aspect and every facet,” he told GameSpot. “Overall, thanks to our collaboration with 2K, this is the game we would have wanted to make had we been able to pull this off in round one. This would have been an ideal way to launch the franchise.”
The partnership has allowed Saber Interactive to make use of 2K’s licenses, including music tracks and former NBA player likenesses that otherwise wouldn’t appear in the game. It’s also put the team in close contact with Visual Concepts, the 2K studio currently developing NBA 2K19. This has given Saber the opportunity to receive critical feedback while developing Playgrounds 2.
As for what’s new in the sequel, Playgrounds 2 features improved dribbling and rebounding, new courts and players, and signature moves that make big-name NBA players feel unique. Perhaps most importantly, it also includes four-player online multiplayer with dedicated servers.
“One of the major issues we had with the [first] game was [that] the online play suffered from considerable lag,” Karch added. “We implemented a dedicated server solution to eliminate that.” You can read more about the first game in GameSpot’s NBA Playgrounds review.