If your basketball-loving friends and co-workers are suspiciously absent today, that’s because Friday was 2K Day—the early access release of NBA 2K18. 2K helped get fans pumped for the big day by creating branded excuses, doctor’s notes and even a letter to break up with a significant other for more time to play. A sponsored hashtag on Twitter inserted a special logo next to tweets containing the phrase, #2KDay.

Beginning on September 8, 2K offered a free downloadable experience called The Prelude on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live. With it, players could get a head start on the game’s career mode, and all progress carries over to the full game.


The annual sports franchise celebrates not only a love but a life of basketball—a passion shared by millions of fans and NBA all-stars worldwide. Promotion around NBA 2K18 has largely centered around “The Neighborhood”—a new open-world mode to explore. The game’s slogan, “Run the Neighborhood,” captures the idea of hard work and building a reputation from the ground up, beginning in the players’ own virtual neighborhoods.

Locations and challenges inside NBA 2K18 are natural opportunities for branded partnerships that include Spalding, Ruffles, Big Baller Brand sneakers, Nike, Mountain Dew, Walmart and Reese’s Puffs cereal.

However, the partnerships expanded beyond logo placement. Players using the NikeConnect app were able to unlock special in-game offers including boosts and jerseys.


Consumers are also able to unlock 5,000 virtual currency in NBA 2K18 by purchasing the game from Walmart, along with cans of Mountain Dew Kickstart.

Specially marked boxes of Reese’s Puffs cereal contain a 25-digit code printed inside that unlocks 2,500 worth of in-game currency that gives players a jumpstart in building their custom MyTeams. General Mills (parent company of the Reese’s Puffs brand) also sponsored a full-game livestream ahead of the game’s launch.

Of course, the biggest draw of the NBA 2K franchise is the roster of real-life basketball stars. This year’s cover stars include Kyrie Irving (Standard Edition), Shaquille O’Neal (Legend and Legend Gold Editions) and Kristaps Porzingis (My NBA 2K18 companion app).

NBA athletes are not only included in the game but also prominently featured in trailers and personalized promotions.


A new Snapchat filter overlays Shaq, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George and Kyrie Irving over the NBA 2K18 logo, each performing their respective victory dances. Irving even had a bit of fun by “dancing with himself” on 2K Day.


Copies of the game may be going fast, but not as fast as the GameStop NASCAR stock car, racing the circuit with NBA 2K18‘s cover prominently displayed on the hood. The car is driven by Erik Jones, NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year, and came in at number 18 over the weekend at TheHouse.com 300 in Chicago.

Considering the “Run The Neighborhood” trailer has been viewed nearly 5 million times in just two weeks, it’s pretty safe to say that fans are excited. All this hype will aid both publisher Take-Two Interactive and the NBA as they prepare to launch the inaugural NBA 2K esports league in 2018.

“We know our players are big fans of the NBA 2K game and many of them work closely with the development,” Matt Holt, vice president of global partnerships at the NBA told AListDaily. “It’s going to be interesting to see how we can connect our players with this esports league.”