These Are the Most Popular Basketball Video Games Ever

Welcome back to the ’90s, where simpler times were spent at home playing computer games, consoles, or hitting the arcades for Friday-night marathons. 

That tactile, emotional response of ripping joysticks to bashing and mashing buttons has been a thrill unmatched to this day. The games of importance were the fighting games, the first Mortal Kombat, and, of course, the supreme classic Street Fighter II. 


However, it was interesting to note that one of the bestselling arcade games of that era was “NBA Jam.” Thirty years have passed since the release of the very first NBA console game. Let’s get into our list of the top basketball video games of all time.

These Are the Most Popular Basketball Video Games Ever
Image Source: GameFabrique. 

NBA Showdown

NBA Showdown is a 1993 Super Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game console video game. The game is a sequel to the videogame Bulls vs. Blazers. For the Sega Mega Drive, the same title was re-released as NBA Showdown 94. 

And it’s the fifth and final game in the games series of the NBA Playoffs before the series was rebranded as NBA Live.


NCAA March Madness 2004

With NCAA March Madness 2004 on Xbox and PlayStation 2, EA Sports completed its year-long crop of sporting games. 

The developers introduced a range of great new features to the college game from NBA Live 2004, but they were careful to distinguish March Madness from the pro game by using suitable pacing and strategy.

March Madness 2004 does an excellent job with the music. Many fight songs from the central team are included in the game, and the crowd plays a significant role as you compete. 


The array of chants that you’ll hear and the intense cheering and booing add a lot to the game’s atmosphere. 

NBA Live 06

In several ways, NBA Live 06 was considered the next decade’s first real basketball game. The game had been redesigned from scratch, and made a perfect first impression on high-definition screens, with excellent-looking models of players and courts. 

While NBA Live 06 is still a fun basketball offering that is noticeably slower to the series’ recent entries, it falls short of their promise. 

Flaws such as poorly balanced graphics, an inconsistent frame rate, a flawed free-throw shooting system, and the absence of franchise mode combine to prevent NBA Live 06 from being the excellent basketball game it should have been.

NBA Street Vol. 2

Even 15 years later, the sense of style and spirit of the game has never been matched, and most of all, the soundtrack 

New technology has brought us games like NBA 2 K and their hyper-realistic graphics and gameplay – but realism was never Street Vol’s point. 

It framed basketball not merely as a sport practiced around the country in similar, sanitized stadiums but also as a vital cultural institution with its own culture, music, and sense of place. 

It paid tribute to basketball as entertainment, as art, as a lynchpin of culture. The gameplay was quick, competitive, fast-paced at streetball courts across the U.S.

The game did not attempt to catch the basketball rules faithfully, but rather the daily soul of the sport – no out of bounds, no fouls, just pure gritty spirit. 

NBA 2K11

For many reasons, NBA 2k11 takes the number one spot on this list, not the least of which was the most outstanding player return ever to hit a basketball on the digital floor.

2K Sports continued to fill out the franchise model, and the regular graphics and AI updates saw every iteration. Still, the biggest hit of NBA 2k11 was the Jordan Challenge, which saw you play through Jordan’s career’s most incredible moments. 

Playing as Jordan and introducing the other legend teams meant players had something new to try out, and a decade later, NBA 2k11 still stands as the height of the basketball sim genre.

These Are the Most Popular Basketball Video Games Ever
Image Source: Engadget. 


What makes a video game good? It has to be the combination of graphics and AI with the generational feeling of the game. The best video games take you back to their era every time you sit down to play.