But in truth, no video game can properly simulate Curry’s supernatural talent
Last night, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors tied an NBA record with 12 three-point baskets made in a game. His last was a 38-foot heave, in overtime, to subdue the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team they’d trailed all night.
Courtesy of Shady0018 and Operation Sports, here’s what that looks like in NBA 2K16. This had to take a lot of work. Curry is rated 99 in three-point shooting in the game, whether standing or on the run, but that’s not from the kind of distance he hit last night. Go into practice, fool around with Curry, and turn on his “hot zones” — the areas where his shot is the deadliest. They end way short of the range where he connected IRL on Saturday.
From 30-plus feet — the distance in this video — it’s a crapshoot, even with someone like Curry, who in the real world has hit 50 percent of his attempts from that range (11-for-22). NBA 2K16 seems to have no way to react to him. It’s already maxed out his shooting attributes. The rest of the league shoots about 8 percent from that distance. When the next roster update for NBA 2K16 comes, there’s no way to grade Curry up. To properly differentiate him from the rest of the NBA, the video game would have to grade everyone else down.
As recently as a decade ago, sports video games frequently saw game-breaking talents like Michael Vick in Madden NFL 2004, Ken Griffey, Jr. in his namesake baseball game in the late 1990s or Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl. But this was because programmers in those days had overrated their abilities within the game, or the game itself simply wasn’t sophisticated enough to reflect their talent relative to other performers.
Curry is rated 99; to properely differentiate him, you’d have to rate everyone else lower
NBA 2K16 can’t use either excuse, particularly as its developers can update players’ ratings whenever they please. So what we’re seeing with Stephen Curry is the inverse: He’s so good, the league’s premier video game literally has no idea how to handle him in a way that properly reflects his talent without destroying the rest of the game — particularly in online multiplayer. On Pro difficulty and Simulation settings, a decent baseline for most users, Curry can still bury just about anything, on the run or spot-up.
“To be completely honest, we are still looking for ways to better translate his game into NBA 2K,” Mike Wang, the game’s director, recently told Forbes. “He’s a ‘rule breaker’ when it comes to jump shooting. He becomes a problem in the video game world where we’ve been trying to train our gamers that certain types of shots should be rewarded versus others.”
If Curry is a problem for Visual Concepts and NBA 2K, he’s a good one to have. The reigning NBA MVP is the cover star of the current game. Last night he broke his own record for most three-point baskets made in a season and tied the record for most made within a game. This kind of performance drives people, even casual sports fans, to their consoles to try to recreate or better it. And if they can’t, even in a video game, it only reminds them of how unimaginably good Stephen Curry really is.