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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
'NBA 2K13' licenses the 1992 'Dream Team'

By Darren Rovell

Dream Team
"NBA 2K13" will finally allow gamers to play with the 1992 Olympic team -- except Scottie Pippen.
Each year, sports video game franchises sell gamers on some new twist. The reality is that most fans buy the latest version for the roster updates.

The same can't be said for 2K Sports, which has taken innovation to the next level in its 2K basketball franchise despite a true competitor to spar with.

This year is no different. "NBA 2K13," which will hit stores on Oct. 2, will feature both the 1992 Dream Team and the 2012 men's basketball gold-medal team, the company announced Wednesday.

With Jay-Z intimately involved in helping the company produce the game, there's a soundtrack of his hand-selected songs in the game, some of which feature the minority Brooklyn Nets owner himself.

Add that to the brand's big investment in Michael Jordan for another year. In 2011, when MJ was signed to be a part of the game, 2K Sports rode his "Airness" to 5.5 million copies sold. At the time, Jordan's presence in the game was magnified by the fact that the greatest player in the game opted out of video game deals during his career. Now that he's no longer playing, video games help his legacy live on, Jordan told reporters at a news conference for the game. For what it's worth, current NBA players no longer have the option to decline their appearance in video games.

As the debate rages on over which Olympic team was better, 2K Sports could sell some more copies because of this feature. To do the deal, the company had to go through USA Basketball and also score the Dream Team players who are not part of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. With Jordan in hand, Charles Barkley, who was not in the last version of the game after failing to reach a deal, and Scottie Pippen remained. Barkley signed up for this year's title, while Pippen and 2K Sports could not reach a deal.

It's always interesting to see whether these types of investments pay off. Shares of Take Two Interactive, the parent company of 2K Sports, have been pressured amid the video game decline. The NPD Group, a market retail tracking firm, said software sales were down 29 percent compared to a year before, and hopeful projections for many games, including Take-Two's "Max Payne 3," have been off.

All the more chance to reinvest in the Dream Team idea because staying conservative in this marketplace is not the right thing to do.

The biggest news at Take-Two headquarters on Wednesday might not even be this. On Tuesday, a filing revealed that billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought 600,000 more shares in the company, upping his total investment to 7.9 million shares.