Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

ALL-STAR REBOOT The late basketball famous person Kobe Bryant graces the duvet of the NBA 2K24 online game. —SCREEN GRAB

PARIS—The postretirement careers of the most important sports activities stars may be fascinating to observe—Viagra advertisements, property ventures, crypto initiatives—however one choice is changing into a sure-fire winner: put your face on the duvet of a online game.

And dying is not any barrier for this specific profession, with two widespread video games this yr selecting sports activities legends who’re now not with us.

LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident in 2020, graces the duvet of “NBA 2K24.”

And two of the world’s best footballers from bygone eras—Pele and Johan Cruyff—get posthumous respect with their figures emblazoned on “FC 24” from EA Sports activities.

They’re joined on the duvet of the EA sport by a galaxy of still-living stars of the newer previous—Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho—and current —Erling Haaland and Alexia Putellas.

French legend Zidane instructed Agence France-Presse (AFP) in June that many younger kids now knew him largely by means of his look within the EA sport, previously referred to as “Fifa.”

Advertising nostalgia

“Children age 8 to 10 don’t know me, until their dads have instructed them about what I did again within the day,” mentioned the World Cup winner.

“It’s extra by means of PlayStation, so it’s sort of humorous. I’m used to it.”

The ties between online game publishers and sports activities stars go deep, notably in the USA.

The main online game collection on American soccer bears the identify of a former participant, John Madden, who retired in 1978 to grow to be a sports activities commentator.

Julien Pillot, an economist specializing in cultural industries, instructed AFP the endorsement of bona fide legends was clearly a strong advertising software.

And the usually enormous price of getting their endorsement, he mentioned, was “greater than offset” by the gross sales they generate— each of the video games themselves and the ever present in-game “playing cards” required to unlock extra content material.


Gaming corporations had been enjoying on the “intergenerational facet” and including “a contact of nostalgia,” Pillot mentioned.

It’s a function that executives usually are not shy about highlighting.

“My 7-year-old solely actually is aware of who Pele is due to his superb ranking on FC,” David Jackson, vice chairman of the EA Sports activities FC model, instructed AFP.

He mentioned the sport had allowed followers to really feel a little bit little bit of the magic of enjoying with stars from earlier generations.

And it really works each methods, in accordance with a few of the stars concerned—even those that don’t fee as extremely as Pele.

“Individuals of a sure technology know me by what I’ve completed on the pitch,” mentioned World Cup winner Robert Pires on the launch get together for the EA sport in Paris.

However a 12-year-old boy instructed Pires just lately he had solely discovered who the French star was by means of enjoying the sport.

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“I requested him: ‘Am I good?’” Pires mentioned. “He instructed me: ‘You’re good, however you’re gradual.’”


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