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Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns talks NBA Infinite and F2P gaming

“To have all that for free is something I really appreciated”

Lightspeed Studios might be busy working on the upcoming AAA game Stellar Gate and supporting PUBG Mobile, but that hasn’t stopped them from sizing up the sports game genre as well. The studio recently launched NBA Infinite for mobile devices, and GLHF spoke with Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, one of NBA Infinite’s stars and ambassadors, about his partnership with the game and why it matters to him.

Towns is known for his on-court skills and, more recently, for claiming the title of Three-Shot Champion in the 2021-2022 season, but he says he’s cherished a lifelong love of video games as well, one that trips to the local bowling alley –and its arcade cabinets – ignited.

“My background in video games began with a cabinet game at the bowling alley playing Marvel vs. Capcom 2 or SNK vs. Capcom,” Towns says. “I was blessed to be able to get a Sega Genesis when I was younger and that Sega Genesis is where my love for gaming at home started -- with the original Sonic the Hedgehog. I love that game till this day and love playing it to have that nostalgic feel.”

Towns says he’s keen on checking out new Steam games on occasion, but he spends most of his gaming time with Call of Duty and NBA Infinite now, in part as they help him connect with friends and family he has little chance to see in person anymore.

NBA Infinite is a PvP mobile game, with casual modes, online competitive matches, team management, and even a dynasty mode. If all of that sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. Much of NBA Infinite’s central premise is what 2K Games’ NBA 2K franchise does every year, though there’s a key difference. NBA Infinite is free.

Sure, like all free-to-play games – and some premium ones, including NBA 2K – Infinite has microtransactions for in-game currency, and you can use that for a (not guaranteed) shot at recruiting new players to your team. The core experience is free, though, and you earn currency by playing anyway. For Towns, that makes all the difference.

“The fact that it’s mobile and free-to-play is what really intrigued me,” Towns says, when I ask why he wanted to take part in the project. “I have fans that love the NBA and are true NBA savants [but] consoles and games are getting more expensive. You get a game like NBA Infinite, with so much and different ways you can play. And to be able to have all that for free is something I thought my fans would really appreciate and something I really appreciated too. That’s why I think this partnership was possible.”

It also balances approachability with depth and aims to maintain both without forcing players to grind for hours just to get a card they want or to boost their favorite player’s stats. Infinite rewards you for investing time in your players, but Level Infinite designed their NBA mobile game so anyone can pick it up, play a few matches, and go on their way.

That flexibility is important to Towns, who says he uses games to help keep his connections with friends and family strong. He says he has little enough time to spend with them anyway, in between busy season schedules and practicing, which makes the option to pick up an easy-to-understand multiplayer game that anyone can play particularly appealing.

“I’m really excited for everyone to get their hands on the game,” Towns says. “We talk about 2K so much, but I get more of an old school NBA Live vibe, from their golden days, from this game [and I think] it’ll be cool for people to get that kind of feeling again from NBA Infinite as well.”