All-Pro Football 2K8 Q&A: The Road to Rebirth

We chat with 2K Sports' Greg Thomas about the long-awaited resurrection of the popular football franchise.

December 13, 2004. Many sports game fans likely remember the date as one where the landscape of the football gaming world dramatically changed. On that date the announcement was made that Electronic Arts had secured exclusive video game rights to the NFL, effectively cutting the NFL 2K series out of the race. Despite predictions of doom and gloom, and the series' two-year absence from store shelves, it seems you can't keep a good football series down. Today's official announcement of All-Pro Football 2K8, a game long-rumored to be in the works, confirms that the team at 2K Sports is back on the virtual gridiron, preparing a football game that looks to make up for what it lacks in officially licensed teams and logos with the kind of hard-hitting, authentic gameplay the series has built its reputation on. We spoke with Visual Concepts president Greg Thomas today about the long road to APF 2K8.

GameSpot: A lot of people have been waiting for this announcement, so how does it feel to finally be "officially" talking about All-Pro Football 2K8?

Greg Thomas: Well, we're all very excited about it. We have been keeping quiet for a long time about our plan. And obviously we've been busy with a lot of other things. But we're really excited about...getting back to all of our fans who really loved NFL 2K5.

GS: So, tell me about the process of getting to this announcement. I'm curious as to how the game evolved from what was perhaps going to be NFL 2K6 to what we'll be playing this year.

GT: [A lot has] evolved. It hasn't been, you know, nonstop football work every single day since NFL 2K5 shipped. We've had a lot of other things to do, like the [PlayStation 3] launch with incredibly short time frames, and getting our NBA game to the place it's at now, which is, you know, the best NBA game out there. [With NFL 2K5], after we shipped it and we really started to think about what we'd do next for our football game, it took some time to really think. We had to really go through a lot of different processes here and figure out exactly what we wanted to do. And that did take a decent amount of time to make sure that we put something, you know, super-compelling together for all our fans.

GS: Was it something that you'd maybe come back to once a week and conceptualize ideas for the game, or was it something that all came together at once?

GT: All of the above. It was once a day for a while...then once a week. It was just a lot of different people throwing a lot of different strategies in the ring and figuring out exactly what was the right strategy. This is not about us trying to cash in on NFL 2K5 in any way. This is about us really building the best football game we can build for our fans.

GS: After NFL 2K5 and the loss of the NFL license, was there ever any thought of simply stripping everything out and creating a sort of generic 2K6?

GT: Never. We would never do something like that. This is not how we work. If we don't have something really fantastic to offer our fans, then we just don't want to be in that business. So that's why we really took a decent amount of time to figure out exactly what we did want to do.

GS: Looking back at NFL 2K5 specifically, what did you like about it, and where did you think you could go next?

GT: Like all of our games, every single game I've ever made in my entire career, they're all not good enough. But then it comes out and you start hearing people talk about it in the forums, you're watching people play it, you're reading reviews, and you start to feel a lot more comfortable with what you've released, on different levels. That being said, we had had just a huge list of things that we wanted to do. And if you look at that game, even back in 2K5, it's still light years--even just presentation-wise--where the current football games are.

So I think that we felt good about what we shipped, but again, we had a lot of things that we wanted to do, and we always do.

GS: Other publishers have made stabs at non-NFL football games. We have Midway's Blitz revamp, and Sony tried with an ill-fated football game [Road to Sunday]. How do you view the market for "unofficial" football products, and how do you go about ensuring that All-Pro Football thrives in that market?

GT: I think that we've come up with some very unique ideas on how to play a football game, and I think that there's room for both. I think those people who want the NFL are going to be able to get their fill of the NFL, and I think that there's people who are going to feel like, "Hey, with the NFL game I didn't get my fill of everything I wanted for football." And I think there's other people who are going to say, even with the Blitz game, or whatever other games are going to be made for football, "I still didn't get a good enough feel for football," when they see what we're putting out.

GS: Do you have sales expectations for this game?

GT: I think we always expect our games to do well, sales-wise. And we never talk about sales figures. But I think that we always expect our games to do well or else we wouldn't be making them. So I think that from our standpoint we're expecting this game to be a big, big seller. We're expecting our fans to be really excited, and there's a lot of fans.

We think there's a lot of really exciting information to come through the months here until we launch that are going to keep people and generate more excitement as we go, until it culminates in really what is the final kind of launch plan for us.

GS: The name of the game is All-Pro Football 2K8. Where did the name come from, and how does it reflect the game that you're creating?

GT: We went through a lot of different strategies for names and that kind of thing, and we really came on sticking with obviously Football 2K8, because that has been what we've been building here since the original 2K on the Dreamcast. And All-Pro really just fits in because that's the kind of game we're trying to make. We are focused on making the best football game that a gamer can play. And there's nothing better than an All-Pro, you know, [so] it made perfect sense for us.

GS: The name also is suggestive of star players, so one of the obvious questions is: Will we see former pros in the game, and what can you tell us about that?

GT: You know, anything is possible. We're not really going to talk about any kind of specific features today, but you can look at All-Pro Football 2K8, and you can come across a lot of different reasons why we named it that. One of them is the one that you suggested. There are about four others that you can also come up and make a good argument for. And I think today we really just want to kind of talk about the fact that we're making this game, and we're going to really let the details kind of come out as we get close to the launch.

GS: Since you're developing the game for next-gen consoles, how much of it will be built from the ground up?

GT: The last time we shipped our football game it was on PS2 and Xbox, so we've had a lot of work to do to build it on the next-gen systems. I think that our overall plan has been: we want to keep the spirit of NFL 2K5, but we want to really build from the ground up on a lot of different [areas]. If there's a number, say six different key basic foundations to this game, we're probably rebuilding four of them. So I think that from that standpoint we're really reengineering most of everything, but we do want that ultimate feel to be what our fans have always liked.

GS: So is it safe to say that this will play and feel like an older 2K NFL game, at least from a control standpoint?

GT: No, I don't think that's fair. I think it's fair to say that, the overall feel and control that all of our 2K games give is really our goal. And you can look at what we do with our basketball product. And you know, from that level, that's really what we're aiming for with football. We want to give a lot of control to the player. We do not want the player to be watching so much. We want the player to be playing.

GS: When you're talking about a sports game that doesn't have recognizable teams or recognizable players so to speak, I'm wondering how you've approached that from a design standpoint. Are you going the Blitz route and making things over-the-top, or are you sticking to the roots of the 2K series being a sim series and being attractive to people who are just straight-up football fans?

GT: Well, like I said before, we're really not divulging too much today. The one thing I will say is that, and I've said it previously in this call, is just that we're going after all of the fans who have appreciated the games that we've built for them for years and if we are to do that successfully...we are going to give them something that we know...that they're going to like.

GS: The downsides of a long development cycle are obvious--you guys want to have a football game out there, gamers want to play that football game--but is there an upside to a long development cycle?

GT: Well, there's a lot of upsides to a long development cycle, especially when you have new hardware. You know, a long development cycle on old hardware is really a bad thing, but on new hardware it's a really good thing. You know, you're assured to get the latest, greatest technologies and that kind of thing. But we haven't been just chugging away on football for the last three years. We've had to learn the PS3...and while we've always had football in our brain, and really always had our plans together, we weren't always every single day working on this game.

So I think from that standpoint we haven't had a superlong development period. I don't like personally to wait. I think it would have been great to have this game a couple of years ago, but that just wasn't going to happen. That just wasn't in the cards. We wouldn't have made the PS3 launch. But from a football standpoint we think that the amount of time that we're putting into this game is exactly what it needs, and we're going to ship a game that we're going to be really proud to ship.

GS: A lot of people are curious as to the degree of customization there will be in the game. Is there anything you can tell me about that?

GT: I think that [last] gen games had a level of customization. I think the next-gen games now, people are really asking for a lot more customization as you get into much more detail, finer details, and that kind of thing. And so our goal is to really appeal to those next-gen consumers. And so the idea is, hey, we want to give our fans an experience--very much what they expect from us.

GS: The standard in sports games is to have an athlete appear on the cover. Have you made any decisions on this, as to whether you'll have a cover athlete and what type of person you are looking for?

GT: Yeah, I think, again, we've had a lot of talks about that. We're not really ready to say anything today about the cover. But I will tell you that we definitely do have a plan, and it's really unique and it's exciting.

GS: Do you foresee 2K going after the NFL license again?

GT: You know, I think that our stance has been pretty clear on what we think of the situation with the licensors. We think that everybody should be allowed to make a game, and we think that ultimately is going to make better games. I think that [the NBA's multiple license approach] has really shown that's the way to go. And I think that what happened with the NFL and MLB is unfortunate. When you have competition you have twice as many people thinking about how to solve problems, or thinking about new ideas, and it just breeds competition and therefore it breeds better titles in the marketplace.

I think our kind of vision would be [that] we want to build a football game first and foremost, and the licensors, if they come, great, if they don't, that's great too.

It's all about our fans who stood behind our games. You can remember all of the postings and stories and everything that went online when this whole NFL thing happened. A lot of these guys really stood behind us and continue to stand behind us today. And you know, all of that, that's what really matters to us. We want to make the fans of our game happy, people who said, "Hey, the 2K football series is the best." So we think that it's more about the sport of football and the engine than it is about any [licensor].

GS: Sounds good. Well, I can't wait to hear more about the game.

GT: Very cool. We have a lot of different things to talk about as we get closer into launch here as far as everything...dates and features and what we're doing differently and how, and why, and price, and everything. And you know, expect the unexpected. We've got some really neat ideas, and as we get close to launch, people are going to be really excited.

GS: Thanks for your time, Greg.

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259 comments
EL1wab
EL1wab

Im just hoping for Co-Op

Gastman
Gastman

Madden will alway be the best football game ever. Better then All-Pro Football 2K8

Splincir
Splincir

Natural motion engine. That's the big secret, and it's going to put 2K football back on the map in a big way. Look it up. You'll see.

mikekare79
mikekare79

What has Madden done since they got the license? Charged more, made it "look" better, and added the lead blocker. Lame. 2K makes sports games that play like a sports game should. Look at NBA and NHL 2K7. They rock. EA Sucks. Go 2K!!!

MrMaddess
MrMaddess

Finally,The Nfl 2k series is back. Since Madden had exclusive license contract to take the heavy competition of visual concept off the back. the 2k series seemed dead at 2k5 .Now that 2k iz back wit a different name to get back in competition Madden should really watch there back .Visual concept always had better ratings but madden was a freestyle game that ppl like and it iz also like Nba Live and the Nba 2k . the nba live iz a freestyle game which iz fast pace. the Nba 2k series iz really different it iz a more real simulation of the actual basketball game. The Nba live is more a better game for a freestyle system like the PS2 or PS3. The 2k is a actuall simulation of the sports which is a more Xbox or Xbox 360. More People own the Ps2 than the xbox leaving the freestyle games the victors.

dresu
dresu

Madden NFL and EA are do real football simulation no justice. We didn't see Visual Concepts cut the EA's throat. No, they went toe to toe and put EA on its back. Then the little EA babies cried to their NFL mama. Man, I hope Pro Football K8 is fully customizable from stadiums to players. Personally I like the graphics better on ESPN 2K5, because if you look at any of the Quarterbacks, you'll see that they are all ripped with huge cannon arms and legs. EA Sports, you idots, that is definitely not in the game. Take a look at Brad Johnson for the MN Vikings!! That's it, Madden NFL is not worth anyones thouhts at this moment. Madden NFL 08 better be off the chain.

marvinv21
marvinv21

Well 2k fans sorry to break it to you, but Madden is and always will be the best football game. No matter what 2k does madden is always a step ahead in gameplay and franchise depth. Don't get me wrong 2k makes a solid football game but it's just not madden. But i will admit that since the Nba 2k series came out there has been no live play at my house.

monlacey
monlacey

The Best Football Game Period. I hope the edit mode is really good yes 2k is back!!!!!!!!

zanlong
zanlong

Two things: I would like this to be like Front Pages Sports Football from Sierra Online. Say what you will about 2K or Madden, but FPS: Football was the best Football game hands down. You could make up your own leage. With any number of teams you wanted and rename them as well. In fact you could rename everything in the game. and lastly, Make the look and feel just like TV Sport Football from Cinemaware. They tryed to make the game feel like it was realy on TV. 2K5 did a good job at that. I would like to see that as well. And make if for the PSP not just PS3 and XBox360

BlakkSteel
BlakkSteel

2K Sports is putting their game making skills to the test, & their reputation on the line, because they KNOW they can make a better football game. Now, gamers will be forced to ask themselves: what's more important, a license, or a damn good game? 2K5 has delivered on so many fronts that they have no choice but to bring the heat! My last 2 Madden games were freebies for me. So, they haven't gotten any money money out of me in at least 2 years. Even then, I'd rather play a nameless, faceless, damn good football game, than to buy into a licensed flop. I've done my part to send a statement to EA Sports about their football game. EA does have some good games under their belt & on their roster (LOVE Burnout!); but, Madden Football just isn't 1 of them anymore. Madden's last good game goes back to 2003. On PS1, it was all about NFL Gameday. They ruled Sega Genesis. But, until they (EA) step their game up, it's gonna crash when the license is no longer exclusive. I'm a gamer, NOT a fan boy. So, game play is the most important thing to me. The NFL license isn't. I have real-life Steeler friends & the NFL network to make up for all of that! LMAO

Jonobody
Jonobody

Hopefully they put a a single superstar thing i hate Dynasty...

Gmacrusher
Gmacrusher

okay one question when are the makers of a game never exited!??? Answer: Never...they are always Exited!

raider163
raider163

bout time there is another 2k game getting sick and tired of EA and playing the same ol' madden with boosted feat.'s and live 07 no need to explain jus another failure from EA i would love to teach EA how to make a true sports game for the fans

Chief_Kuuni
Chief_Kuuni

I have yet to play a 2k game but hear they're good games

Skiggy80
Skiggy80

YES!!!! I loved the 2k series way more than Madden. This is going to be great and i cant wait for this to release.

stinkfinger79
stinkfinger79

i wish Microsoft would make 2k5 backwards comp. i sold my xbox and really miss playing that game. truly the best football game out there. period

xxclipsxx2
xxclipsxx2

THE RETURN OF REDSKINSSIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rodd76dog
rodd76dog

why cant 2k make a ncaa football game is ea can make a ncaa baseball game

dmastor
dmastor

Can we get some updated gamespot i want sceenshots

ROACH07
ROACH07

BURN MADDEN BURN...your game has sucked for 4 years, same with the community that plays it and supports it, bunch of retarded meatheads.

raine1998
raine1998

2K5 was ahead of it's time, and to this day is a better game than Madden 07 on the PS2 and XBox. It's unfair to compare it with the next gen. counsels, but it really is the most impressive, fun to play, football game out there.

packernation31
packernation31

put 2k5 on the next-gen console, youll have the best sports game out there

Riverwolf007
Riverwolf007

2K5 is still the best football game out.

Sketchguy
Sketchguy

Images please I don't care if it's just the wire frame of a helmet. IMAGES

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

They better sell this for $20 bucks just to slap EA in the face...

ecyoral
ecyoral

i agree with donscrillinger we need some pics. i have waited a few years so a couple more months won't hurt. i was talking to my buddy about nba 2k7 and wondered if the football game would utilize the same engine. imagine tackling a player and their pads were exposed afterward. free flowing jerseys blowing in thewind as you sprint down the sideline for a td. 2k games will blow football into a different universe are we truly ready for real next-gen football in true hd?

tomservo51
tomservo51

I dont know if I can wait that long!!!!

donscrillinger
donscrillinger

we want pics man can we get some pics of this fresh game plz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the_el_man
the_el_man

Is this going to be the Pro Evo of the american football world? PES has shown you dont need licences to show EA who's boss. I'd support 2K I hate what EA have done to football and American football.

Trizzt08
Trizzt08

Thank the lord 2K is back with a football game. Refused to buy Madden so no football now 2ks back yeah

StumpyTrash
StumpyTrash

Agreed. Not only was 2k5 a better game, EA was getting seriously undersold! ---------- KingMyro Madden has been a lazy dissapointment. I hope this game really sells well. Despite what EA says I think its rather suspicious that the first year someone releases a football game that eclipses Madden EA suddenly buys up all the rights to the NFL.

SamuraiSul
SamuraiSul

You know, I was THIS close to crumbling and getting Madden '07 for the 360. THANK GOD i didn't. 2k rocks!

WildbucingBill
WildbucingBill

I am so glad they are back. I have a 360 and a ps3 and Ea has been riding the pines. I am sure this game will be incredible. I can't wait.

SinceThe80s
SinceThe80s

To this day I still play nfl 2k5 on my ps2 regularly, I tried madden but just didn't like the game play. I'll have no problem playing with generic players, as long as I play a 2k sports football game

SoonToBeT2k7
SoonToBeT2k7

Look. This announcement has changed my life. I am a die hard supporter of nearly all 2k games (minus hockey). This game will change all games, but lets not knock on EA's other games. Madden sucks, we know it, they know it. However, they have produced some decent games as well; NHL 07, Burnout, and such

stealth360snipa
stealth360snipa

I loved 2K5, but i dont want a generic football game. i want the real teams with the real players.

redavery
redavery

I am so happy. I love 2k. I just feel so much better, my life feels so much better. lol. I seriously cant wait for this game.:) ..... EA is GARBAGE, WHO AGEES?

Dip_Set456
Dip_Set456

whatever innovative features 2k put into this game EA will just copy it and put it in the next madden..... the NFL better not renew that agreement with EA when its up....

KingMyro
KingMyro

Madden has been a lazy dissapointment. I hope this game really sells well. Despite what EA says I think its rather suspicious that the first year someone releases a football game that eclipses Madden EA suddenly buys up all the rights to the NFL.

Anthony71B
Anthony71B

All you have to do is stay tuned to nfl2k5forever.com after this game releases. They say the update to make this game a true NFL2K8 will be available there for download in the future. The site was up the other day, but it seems to be down today beacuse they are reconstructing it. I used this site before I got my 360 to download a 2006 roster update for 2k5, using an action replay pack. The update was almost flawless, and I was able to download and print a mock NFL2K6 cover for the game case. I look forward to see how they will deliver the content/update for the 360 (there are a few ways I can think of), but I am sure it will be awesome to see how it will transform the presentation of the game. I cant wait!

mjwickstrom1
mjwickstrom1

Finally! Some competition for Madden! I can't wait for this game!

dan_3
dan_3

I loved my 2k for my dreamcast and I wouldn't mind trying a new version, hopefully they'll keep it up.

metaljeff
metaljeff

Cardiac Cats, you should be praying for 2k to get the NFL rights the next time.Actually, we all should be praying(and writing emails to the NFL) that this exclusive nonsense will end.Sports are about competition.At least we will have some this year, but since 2k is better at Football, I think it is only right that they will get a chance to make NFL games again someday. For now though, I am quite ecstatic that 2k will be making football again.

SeyhanC
SeyhanC

I can't wait for this game, I loved NFL 2k5 so much, I still play my franchise mode with the Jets to this day. I don't even buy a new copy of Madden, I just stick to NFL 2k5, Madden is crap compared to 2k. Luckely Ea has Fight Night and Fifa, cuz if 2kSports had both of those, omg imagine what they'll do with a Fifa 2k version, it'll be sick, and I don't want to start on their ideas for a 2k boxing game.

CardiacCats10
CardiacCats10

I NEED this game to rock so EA will stop screwing around. If they don't, the NFL might be considering a change when the contract is up. EA's sales are down because there is no motive for creativity..Seemed when the 2k series was around, the madden games got better..

mars188
mars188

i am tired of madden as well. just make the game fun. like the wii is about fun and look what the wii did. so 2k can do the same to EA as the wii did to ps3 sony