NBA 2K21 heads to Apple Arcade with new special edition

The hit basketball video game franchise becomes one of the biggest titles yet on Apple's subscription gaming service.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Eli Blumenthal
3 min read

NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition, seen here in its iPad version, is now on Apple Arcade. 


Apple Arcade is getting a big boost to its platform on Friday, adding a special edition of NBA 2K21 to its growing list of games. The new version, called NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition, brings the hit basketball video game franchise to Apple's gaming subscription service. 

In a press release accompanying the news, publisher 2K touts that the Apple Arcade version of NBA 2K21 will feature "an all-new graphics engine that offers the highest possible resolution of gameplay ever experienced on Apple devices." 

Among the available game modes are five-on-five quick matches using the "latest NBA roster from the 2020-2021 season," the Blacktop park mode for pick-up games, online multiplayer as well as MyCareer, NBA 2K's popular story mode where you create your own player and live out a virtual NBA experience. 

As with other Apple Arcade titles, there's no additional fee for those who already subscribe to Apple's video game service -- but the only way to play on iOS devices is with Apple Arcade. Unlike last year's NBA 2K20, which is a one-time purchase on the App Store for $6 (£6, AU$10), there is no extra fee to buy this game. The new game will be playable on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac and can be used with Xbox or PlayStation DualShock controllers for those looking for a more console-like experience. 


NBA 2K on Apple Arcade. 


As it's a special edition for Apple Arcade, 2K confirms to CNET that you won't be able to sync your MyCareer player from NBA 2K21 on console or PC and continue developing the player in this Apple-exclusive version. The company also says that multiplayer on this version of the game will be limited to playing others who are also on Apple devices. 

First launched in 2019, Apple Arcade is the iPhone-maker's big push into gaming. The subscription service is included with its Apple One bundle or you can subscribe to just Arcade for $5 (£5, AU$8) per month. It offers over 150 games on Apple devices. It has notably lacked the major titles that gamers have grown accustomed to when playing on consoles or PC. 

The addition of NBA 2K, routinely one of the top-selling console games in the US, not only gives Apple its most high-profile title to date, it also adds to a genre that has been lacking on its platform. Until this point, sports titles for Apple's service have consisted of more casual arcade-like games including Ballistic Baseball, Sociable Soccer 2020 and hockey game Ultimate Rivals: The Rink. A basketball-based successor to The Rink, Ultimate Rivals: The Court, is slated to hit Apple Arcade later this year. 

You can also get a three-month free trial of Apple Arcade when you buy a new device, or a one-month free trial if you're signing up for the service for the first time. To try Apple Arcade, open the App Store and tap the little joystick icon at the bottom of the screen.

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