2K Sports is freezing hockey on HD consoles in 2010. In a financial call yesterday, Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick announced that 2K Sports is working on NHL 2K11 -- but only for the Wii. He explained the decision to eschew a PS3/360 version by saying that the development team needs the year off to "refine, redesign and rethink" the game.
Take-Two's December 2009 fiscal report omitted NHL 2K11 from the publisher's list of planned fiscal 2010 releases, which led to speculation that 2K Sports had canceled the game altogether. (At the time, all that a 2K Sports PR rep would say was that the company was "in the process of evaluating [its] sports portfolio.")
The last two hockey games from EA Sports -- NHL 09 and NHL 10 -- well outpaced NHL 2K9 and NHL 2K10, respectively, in sales. Apparently, 2K simply doesn't feel that it can compete with EA Canada's stellar games on a one-year development cycle.
Take-Two CEO Ben Feder emphasized the competitive passion of NHL 2K developer Visual Concepts, asserting that the publisher isn't conceding victory to EA forever -- in fact, they believe that with two years of development time behind NHL 2K12 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, they can best EA. "The following year , we will come back a lot stronger. We have an intention to win and we're going to maximize the opportunity," Feder affirmed.
It's important to note that 2K Sports will likely run unchecked on the Wii once again -- EA Sports has kept its hockey franchise exclusive to PS3/360, and there has been no indication of any plans for a Wii version of NHL 11. Still, this puts heavy pressure on 2K. Simply put, if they want to have a chance at competing evenly with EA, they'll have to come back next year with one of the best hockey games ever made, since we've seen that in consecutive years with NHL 09 and NHL 10. That's a tall order -- good luck, 2K.