How Saber Interactive Created the 'NBA Playgrounds' Experience on Roblox

We got the behind the scenes scoop

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NBA Playgrounds/Roblox

It's always nice when two of your favorite things merge to create one big activity you can enjoy times two. For lovers of gaming (in particular Roblox), and the NBA—there's a new sheriff in town—the NBA Playgrounds: Basketball Hoops Arcade. Launching in December last year, the NBA Playgrounds Experience features an immersive experience where fans of the NBA and the bestselling Playgrounds franchise can dive into the thrilling world of 2-on-2 basketball, Playgrounds-style, right in the heart of Roblox on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and mobile. The super cool setting also offers a virtual community space for basketball enthusiasts to connect, talk about their favorite sport, play a game together and even sport their top team’s jersey. 

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Dozens of unlockable characters, each boasting unique strengths and special abilities for jaw-dropping dunks and epic buzzer-beaters are also a fun part of the experience along with non-stop arcade action, the ability to customize your characters with officially licensed NBA jerseys from your favorite teams and earn card packs that grant experience points, item boosts, outfits, and even new avatars. Factor that in with five real-world locations, and 2-on-2 and 1-on-1 challenges amongst other fun activities, and NBA Playgrounds is a heck of a time.

NBA Playgrounds was developed by Saber Interactive, a unit inside Embracer, and we got an opportunity to quickly chat with Josh Austin, head of licensing at Embracer Group. Scroll down to learn all you need to know about the NBA Playgrounds experience.

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NBA Playgrounds/Roblox

ONE37pm: Okay let’s start from the beginning. How did this experience come to fruition?

Austin: This collaboration is a continuation of our longstanding partnership with the NBA and made possible through the support from our friends at Roblox. Saber’s Playgrounds Sports label, in which the NBA Playgrounds franchise lives, has been entertaining sports fans with over-the-top, arcade-style gameplay for many years now and we’re always looking for opportunities to expand this to new and innovative platforms. Roblox, with their massive social community and fantastic development tools, is a natural fit. When Roblox expressed interest in collaborating via Game Fund, both the NBA and our team at Saber jumped at the opportunity.

ONE37pm: Talk to us a bit about the court designs, and the inspiration behind that. Why Rucker Park specifically?

Austin: We’ve made two NBA Playgrounds games before, for PC and consoles. The fantastical, colorful aesthetic used for the courts in those games was the basis for this title, our first for Roblox. Real-life urban basketball courts, especially iconic ones like Rucker Park in NYC or Venice Beach in LA, are a natural inspiration for this franchise because of the crowds and energy, not to mention that the pickup games on any given afternoon are often 2-on-2.

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NBA Playgrounds/Roblox

ONE37pm: And how about the digital wearable items. We know jerseys are available, but what else can users wear/purchase?

Austin: We don’t have anything to reveal right now, but one of the exciting elements of the Roblox platform is its robust community, so we’ll be listening to players about what they want most!

ONE37pm: For those of us who have never played before, can you share an overview of the experience? How can users enjoy NBA Playgrounds?

Austin: Assuming you have a Roblox account, you can access the game here or simply search for “NBA Playgrounds” on the Roblox site or inside the console or mobile app. You will be shooting hoops and playing against others in 2-on-2 games in no time. The arcade-style gameplay is designed for accessibility, so even if you never play basketball video games, you can go ahead and button-mash and have fun! Or refine your skills and compete with crazy fastbreaks, insane slam dunks and pinpoint three-pointers. As you play more games, you will earn “card packs” which can grant experience, boosts, outfits and even new characters.

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NBA Playgrounds/Roblox

ONE37pm: What makes this different from other experiences you’ve created?

Austin: While the general approach in our Playgrounds Sports titles is consistent, this experience was tailored to Roblox from the outset. This is the biggest difference, because you can’t just drop a game from another system onto the Roblox platform. So while our past NBA Playgrounds titles formed a framework in terms of 2-on-2 gameplay, over-the-top moves, and visual style, we had to build this from scratch, keeping in mind a lot of variables. For example, the way the characters move is unique to Roblox. Players tend to jump from game to game very quickly, kind of like how people consume YouTube content. Plus, expressing yourself via your avatar is a big part of Roblox culture. There is so much more that makes Roblox unique, but with their team’s help through Game Fund I think we created the best basketball game for the platform yet.

ONE37pm: Anything else you want to add?

Austin: I just want to thank both the NBA and Roblox for being such great partners! And for those out there that think Roblox is only for little kids, I encourage you to give it a fresh look, there are so many different kinds of compelling experiences on the platform now. It is evolving and growing in ways that can’t be ignored.

You can checkout NBA Playgrounds on Roblox here.

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