TopSpin 2K25: "a new way for people to get involved in sport" according to Bryce Yang

Published by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Photos by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Published on May 28th, 2024 at 06:48 p.m.
On the occasion of the 2024 edition of Roland Garros, the editorial team went to meet Bryce Yang, 2K's Senior Director of Franchise Strategy and Partnerships. From franchise takeover to game development, we take a look at the publisher's latest tennis game, TopSpin 2K25.

Tennis has never been so popular in the small world of video games! TopSpin is back, Roland Garros eSeries... Titles that are riding the wave, much to the delight of fans. And speaking of TopSpin, the franchise made its comeback on April 26, bringing tennis games back to the forefront, thanks to 2K Games.

And on the occasion of Roland Garros, we went to meet Bryce Yang, 2K's Senior Director of Franchise Strategy and Partnerships. He spoke to us about the return of a franchise that is particularly beloved by gamers, laying the foundations for a bright future for the game.

Our interview with Bryce Yang, Senior Director of Franchise Strategy and Partnerships at 2K :

Sortiraparis: First of all, could you introduce yourself?

Bryce Yang: "I'm Senior Director of Franchise and Partner Strategy at 2K".

Sortiraparis: After years of absence, how does it feel to be working on a new TopSpin (or the franchise, for that matter)?

Bryce Yang: "Any time we can launch a new franchise - even though it's a franchise that's been around for over ten years, 13 years even - it's always exciting. A few years ago, we relaunched golf for the first time, PGA Tour 2K, and it's always exciting because we've had other titles, NBA 2K, WWE 2K, and a lot of us have been working on those titles for a very long time. So it's always good to add new titles, because it's something different, and also because it's a new way for people to engage with the sport. As far as golf is concerned, there hasn't been a golf simulation game like PGA Tour for a long, long time. And with TopSpin, of course there have been other tennis games, but I think a lot of people have missed playing TopSpin since TopSpin 4 came out. So it's very exciting for all of us".

Sortiraparis: How did you go about integrating the professional players? What were the steps involved in designing the game, from selecting the players to releasing the software?

Bryce Yang: "There are several stages: it always starts with a conceptualization point between our development teams, publishing, marketing, licensing or even partnerships. We figure out who the players are that we want to target to be in the game, and then once that's done, as with many of our other titles, you go through a process where players are scanned for the game. All these players, like Serena Williams or Sloane Stevens, were scanned in a space with almost 100 different cameras, to do a topography of the face and body. Everything is scanned, not just the structure of their faces, but also their expressions, which are totally accurate. We want people to see this and think,"oh, is that Serena in a video game?". Some people, like Serena Williams or Roger Federer, have put on the MoCap suit and done their own motion capture. This ensures that they have very different playing styles. So we want to make sure they're reproduced as faithfully as possible. Then, our team uses this data and all the data from the scanned images and movements to create these characters. So there are lots of different ways of going about it, there are lots of different steps to creating the characters."

Sortiraparis: What about the circuits? How were they selected?

Bryce Yang : "Obviously, there are the four Grand Slam tournaments. We're here at Roland Garros. The tournaments take place here. We also have a lot of other events and other world-famous courses that you see on the circuit that are all in the game. But in the same way, the tournaments, the arenas, the courses, there's a whole process that brings them to life. If you look at the Grand Slam tournaments, all four are visually very distinct, whether it's clay, grass or hard courts. For example, if you look at theAustralian Open, it's a very different court to the one you'll see at Roland Garros. So the team takes all this into account when creating these different iconic venues, to make sure they're as accurate and unique as possible. So it's a very comprehensive process".

Sortiraparis: What's new in this edition compared to previous editions? What has 2K brought to the TopSpin franchise?

Bryce Yang: "Looking back, 13 years is a long time. There have been a lot of changes in the sport. There are also legends who have retired, like Roger Federer and Serena Williams. But, you know, when you look at what's new, I think the roster is a key element to consider. Because it's always about the current players, the legends, but above all the future. So we want to make sure we represent the future of the sport. Whether it's Iga Swiatek, Carlos Alcaraz, Francis Alcantara, Ben Shelton, Sloane Stevens, and so on. We want to make sure we have the best possible generation of young players. So I think this is a key element that has changed since last time. Obviously, video games have the graphics technology, the hardware, there have been two generations of consoles since we launched TopSpin 4, so they're much more powerful. And thanks to that, you get much better graphic fidelity, better sound. Gameplay is also much more in-depth. You're competitive, you're multiplayer, you're online... There are more possibilities than in the last game. So, thanks to the power of the hardware and the technology and the things that have changed, you've basically got a whole new game."

Sortiraparis: How do you go from what happens in a match to what happens in the game?

Bryce Yang: "I think in tennis, as in many other sports, it's really about the tension, the suspense, isn't it? It's obviously the competition, but it's the tension, the suspense of the competition, right? Capturing that is what the team also set out to do with TopSpin, but without putting aside the fun of the competition. You can play against the computer, but the most fun is to play against one of your friends. And capturing that element is probably, you know, one of the most important things. Then there are all the other elements. As we said, the roster, the tournaments, the brands, the courts, the idea is to capture all of that and try to capture what people love about tennis, the overall nature of tennis. I said earlier that it's the sport that touches the most players "globally" that we have in our portfolio, so we're making sure that it feels that way and that all the key territories are represented, whether it's through the roster, tournaments or equipment... This is the first time we've been back after a while, so we're looking to build that foundation for years to come."

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