NBA lockout affects the Web and video game industries, too

The just-started NBA lockout is already having far-reaching effects. Nba-logo

Beyond what players, coaches and team owners are going through (and, of course, fans of live games), the television industry is scrambling to find ways to fill the possible holes in their schedule. Meanwhile, video game companies are trying to determine the ramifications for some of their biggest franchises, while webmasters have had a busy few days. Let’s break it down by industry.

On the television front, my colleague Jon Weisman has a wonderful piece in today’s Daily Variety that looks at the impact of the lockout and potential abbreviated (or cancelled) season.

Gaming-wise, two companies will be caught in the blast zone, but only one is likely to feel any real impact. Take-Two Interactive Software’s “NBA 2K” games have been increasingly popular in recent years. The company is also working with a Chinese developer to launch an NBA MMO game in China. But during its last earnings call, the publisher said it had not factored a lockout into its earnings guidance.

I spoke with Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick about this earlier this month – and asked what had prompted the company, which is normally conservative in its estimates, to take this approach.

The reason, he said, was simple: On a corporate level, they’re simply not sure how a strike would affect the game.

“While it’s possible it would be a bad thing, it’s possible it might not be,” he says.

On a personal level, however, he added “I think a strike would hurt us – and frankly it’s a bad thing for everyone involved.”

The other publisher who makes NBA games – Electronic Arts – is a bit more shielded. EA has already announced it was planning to sit out this season to focus on retooling its games. The next installment will be out in 2012.

And let’s also be sure to raise a glass for the good Webmasters at the NBA Website. When the lockout began, that meant all player images had to be scrubbed from the site. (Players didn’t want owners or the league to make money off of their images.) That means that not only is pretty sparse these days, but all team sites had to remove their images and video footage as well.

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