NEW YORK—The 24th installment of the NBA 2K video game franchise—NBA 2K23—was released on Sept. 8 with six editions: Standard, Digital Deluxe, Michael Jordan, Championship, WNBA, and Dreamer. Fittingly, no one other than Michael Jordan posed as the cover athlete for his namesake edition, as well as the Championship edition (for the first time since NBA 2K16).
With true-to-life gameplay, including new commands for a more finessed slam dunk, combo dribbles, and adrenaline boosts, Shiz Suzuki, the vice president of global brand sponsorships and experiential marketing at American Express, said that the partnership between AmEx and the 2K franchise was the result of a “natural intersection” between the game and card members’ passions.
The result of that convergence: the NBA 2K23 Lab for AmEx card members, which took over the second-floor level of SoHo Lofts Dec. 8-11. Upon entering the space, guests were immersed in a basketball haven, beginning with a fabricated locker room where attendees could collect a POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol, aka NFT) with a joint AmEx and NBA 2K23 emblem.
In designated gaming areas, experienced 2K23 coaches helped participants build new skills into their offense and defense using the updated controls available in the latest iteration of the game. Suzuki also pointed out that thanks to the partnership, the financial services company is offering 35K in additional in-game VC (virtual currency) to AmEx card members who purchase the game with their AmEx card.
The Lab also boasted an area dubbed The Highlight Hub, “where fans could recreate iconic NBA shots in NBA 2K23 on a real-life, modified half court,” Suzuki explained. Ballers on the LED-floored court were scored based on how well they could run plays and, of course, if they made a shot. And for sneakers that got scuffed up during gameplay, Jason Markk was on-site giving out complimentary shoe cleanings.
In the spirit of freshening up and supporting small local businesses, Filthy Rich Barbershop set up shop alongside the shoe shine chair stands, giving participants hair trims, beard shape-ups, and fades.
Throughout the four-day event, the NBA 2K23 Lab welcomed 2K influencers and basketball players for a fireside chat. WNBA player and a Forbes 2022 30 Under 30 recipient Sabrina Ionescu joined a conversation on Dec. 8, noting how amazing it is to see herself in a new light through the game.
Jack Harlow also swung by, and participated in the Lab’s Twitch livestream, which Suzuki said “saw over a million views in two hours—the highest viewership in that length of time that the NBA’s Twitch channel has ever recorded.”