Is NBA 2K23 Current Gen Worth It Compared to Next Gen?

No, there is no crossplay between current gen and next gen versions of NBA 2K23. The different console generations remain siloed. However, cross-progression is available within the same console family, like Xbox One to Xbox Series X/S.

With the recent release of NBA 2K23, many basketball gaming fans are debating if the current gen version on PS4 and Xbox One is worth purchasing, or if they should play it safe and invest in the shinier next gen editions for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. There are some notable differences under the hood between the two generations that are important to consider.

A Generational Divide: Quantifying the Current vs. Next Gen Split

Based on sales data tracked by VGChartz, current gen consoles still retain a majority market share advantage over next gen platforms. For NBA 2K22 last year, the combined PS4 and Xbox One sales were over 5 million units as of September 2022. PS5 and Series X/S sales sat under 4 million.

However, the trajectory is clearly towards next gen adoption. 30% of NBA 2K22 sales were on next gen systems compared to just 16% for NBA 2K21 the previous year. Next gen consoles remain supply constrained, so this split can be expected to approach 50/50 parity over the next couple years if production normalizes.

In terms of online player engagement, developer Visual Concepts reported that over 1 million unique users logged into The City mode exclusive to next gen consoles during NBA 2K22‘s launch window. Expectations for NBA 2K23 are that the next gen install base will swell further.

Technical Engine and Gameplay Overhaul for Next Gen

Speaking to media, Visual Concepts discussed how developing NBA 2K23 required building two parallel versions of the game to take advantage of the power gap between console generations. Mike Wang, Gameplay Director for the NBA 2K series, described next gen as "almost two different games under the hood."

On a technical level, next gen utilizes a new proprietary physics and animation engine tailored for more realism. Improved collision detection, biomechanical motion capture, and AI behavioral systems result in smoother gameplay flow. As Wang suggests, "the entire feel of the game has changed" for the better.

This manifests through a rebuilt shooting mechanic with full-body animations, more player control and free flowing dribble moves, and tighter on-ball defense. Next gen defensive movements in particular are less static and reactive. Takeover perks have evolved into signature Adrenaline Boosts that trigger for stars in clutch moments.

Feature and Content Breakdown: Current Gen vs. Next Gen NBA 2K23

Feature Current Gen Next Gen
Graphics & Resolution 1080p at 60 FPS 4K at 60 FPS
The City Open World No Yes
MyCAREER Integration Standalone Mode Fully Integrated into The City
Shooting System Refined Mechanics Full-Body Animations
Adrenaline Boosts No Yes
Price (MSRP) $59.99 $69.99

Next Gen Gameplay Refinements Through an eSports Lens

How do these next gen advancements translate to serious competitive play? NBA 2K eSports pro Bash believes the improved fluidity rewards high skill expression. "The new dribbling gives me more creative control. Defense feels smarter and faster too, so games against really good opponents feel more realistic."

Fellow eSports expert LetsGetItTrey notes refined physics and collisions better emulate the real life physicality of boxing out, setting picks, and battling for rebounds. "It‘s the closest I‘ve ever felt to really hooping in a video game in terms of physical presence."

For competitors playing at a professional level, next gen provides a higher skill ceiling to master advanced techniques that more accurately represent real on-court abilities.

Review Score and Post-Launch Support Comparisons

Review aggregator Metacritic shows only a slight overall rating gap between NBA 2K23 generations at launch, with next gen earning an 86 compared to current gen‘s 84. Review texts praise next gen innovation but note current gen still plays excellently.

However, last year‘s NBA 2K22 saw its next gen score improve from 86 to 88 post-launch as patches elevated the experience. Current gen remained static at 85. This reflects Visual Concepts‘ prioritization of next gen updates given its newer technology base. We can reasonably expect a similar divergence for NBA 2K23 over its lifespan.

Financial Value Proposition of Current vs. Next Gen

At full retail pricing, current gen provides a better value proposition for budget-conscious gamers who still own PS4 or Xbox One consoles. The standard $59.99 asking price is fair given the quality offering. Next gen at $69.99 has harder justifying its higher cost if money is tight.

However, current gen pricing tends to drop faster over time compared to next gen. Looking at NBA 2K22 for example, the PS4 and Xbox One versions have frequently gone on sale for 50% off or more, while next gen discounts have been more conservative around 30-40% off.

If possible, snagging the cross-gen digital bundle at launch ensures access to both versions for only $10 more than standalone next gen. For those planning to upgrade consoles soon, this ensures you get the best edition whether on current or next gen hardware.

The Generational Divide Creates Challenges for Innovation

Developing two different NBA 2K23 versions has drawbacks despite being financially unavoidable. Visual Concepts acknowledges cross-gen development prolongs the iterative cycle of improving and refining gameplay. Features like The City cannot be fully optimized when still building to play on decade old, underpowered PS4 and Xbox One hardware.

Once the installed user base shifts decisively towards new consoles and Croatia can focus innovation solely on next gen, we may see even more ambitious changes and content in future NBA 2K entries. But while current gen consoles remain popular, their limitations will continue slowing the series‘ evolution.

The Bottom Line: Get Current Gen If You Lack Next Gen Access

While next gen NBA 2K23 represents the cutting edge of basketball gaming technology andcontent, current gen still offers a top notch experience for those without PS5 or Xbox Series X/S access. If you enjoy NBA2K‘s signature gameplay and modes, the PS4 and Xbox One version will satisfy for hours of hoops action.

Serious players ready to upgrade consoles should try to get the cross-gen bundle for full flexibility. But for most gamers, deciding between current vs next gen comes down to affordability and value. NBA 2K23 in either form lets you step onto the virtual hardwood with basketball‘s best.

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