NBA AR App Review (ARKit)

A few hours ago I’ve heard that NBA has released its own pop-a-shot augmented reality game and in fact, this is its first AR game. I was thrilled to try it out. I enjoyed playing games like AR sports Basketball, but this game and most all of the other basketball shooting ARKit games that I’ve played had really bad physics and nothing felt like the real thing.

That thing was about to change thanks to a new this new game called “NBA AR App” or let’s just called it NBA AR for short.

I really love playing that pop-a-shot-type game because I can play is casually when I have spare time and it’s challenging and fun, especially when a competitive high score feature is involved.

NBA AR App Gameplay

NBA AR app requires a very large space because it deploys a real life-size virtual basket where you play but only small part of the basketball court (thank god). You still have the three-point area so you can shoot 3-point shots to give you the option to achieve a higher maximum score. If you shoot inside the 3-point line and score it counts as a 2-point shot, like in the real game basketball, obviously it’s an NBA game after all.

The game is playable indoors but it’s best played outdoors in a large open space. You can’t resize the basketball court but you can swipe to move it forward and backward. The reason it’s useful is that if you play in a small space, you want to be able to shoot from the 3-point line. If that area is positioned virtually in a location that you cannot stand on so you won’t be able to shoot from there. When I played indoors, I just moved the basketball court forward. so I can stand in the 3-point line.

Spalding basketball in augmented reality
Even the ball in NBA AR App looks completely realistic.

The gameplay like all pop-a-shot-type games is very fun and addictive. That being said, there is a big difference how this game plays compared to other games of this type in AR. In NBA AR app you flick your wrist to shoot the ball. This will release the ball in an arch and velocity of your flick.

This is so smart, it felt like shooting a real basketball, well, at least the as closest as you can get when playing a game like this on an iPhone or an iPad. I played it on the iPad and it felt really good because of the large size if the device. So it really felt like am shooting a real basketball.

This other huge difference between this game and other pop-a-shot type games is that the physics are as accurate as it can be. Obviously, I didn’t expect NBA to make it feel otherwise. The ball bumps on the floor the same as in real life. All the other basketball ARKit games that I played had really unrealistic physics. Some were good but nothing comes close to how the physics world in this game. You can feel it by how the ball bounce off the hoop and on the floor. My brain already knows how that bounce of a basketball should look and sounds like, and it did feel completely realistic. The sound was spot-on and the entire ball-throwing experience was amazing, like no other.

Playing NBA AR app at night outdoors
I can play basketball outdoors and no neighbor will complain about noise-cool!

I also was able to play it outdoor in relatively dark place underneath my home. OF course, it’s recommended to play any ARKit app in well-lit areas, but it worked and it actually felt and looked really nice with the street lamp at the back.

Other Features

NBA AR App isn’t categorized under games but under Sports, and there is a reason for that. This is because aside from playing that little pop-a-shot game, you can see the next upcoming NBA game (which date, time and which channel). There are buttons that lead you to “Buy Tickets” and “NBA League Pass”.

Effects when you put the ball in the basket
Cool arcade-style effects when you put the ball in the basket (NBA AR app screenshot)

Other things that I haven’t mentioned yet is that at the top of the app you have the option to customize your NBA AR app experience by choosing your favorite NBA team.

In the game, you get to see the logo of the team on the basketball court itself. There might be Also when you choose your team, the next game on the main page with a change to reflect that, so now you can see when is the next game of your favorite team. I guess NBA would add more type of experiences into this app, and those will be customized based on your chosen team preference.

There is also a global leaderboard, which is nice. I could see how good I am relative to other players around the globe. I actually got to 38 points from just shooting from the 2-point area and I got to be in the #3 place. I think if I check the global leaderboard now I would be way down. By the way, as I am saying that, I went to check it, but there is no button to check the leaderboard, only after you play one round. This has to be fixed as well. Speaking of issues, I had some issues with the game.

Any AR Issues to Report?

NBA AR app high-score screenshot
Is the black border really necessary?!

I have a few issues that I would like to report. The first issue that I had regarding the setup of the game in AR. It happens quite a lot that the game just failed to spawn the basketball court in the right direction. It wasn’t a problem if I had the option to rotate the court, but I don’t have this option. This is something I want to be fixed in a future version.

Second, When I start the game on my iPad, the game doesn’t feel up the screen. Maybe it’s not optimized for the iPad’s screen aspect ratio, but come on, any game on the app store makes it work, so why NBA can’t do it. Ther is a weird button on the size showing “2x”, and when I push it, it resizes the screen to a smaller size. I have no idea what is it for. Anyways, I don’t mind that but when the game starts I want it to be full screen. It’s an Augmented Reality (AR) game, so who needs those black borders on the size anyways. These two things must be fixed.


NBA AR App new high score
Yeh, a new high-score! don’t laugh at the score, I was just starting at that point.

Other than the issues that I’ve mentioned, the pop-a-shot basketball experience felt really good. I liked the sound effects, the accurate physics, the crowd hearing in the background, the graphics effects when I put the ball in, the rhythm of the gameplay—it’s all play really nice.

I would have like to see more game modes. Playing just this mode, as good as it was, isn’t enough. If there is already a good foundation what not add more modes, for example, like a 3-point competition.

I really enjoyed playing NBA AR app, it’s really felt good. It’s actually the pop-a-shot game I always wanted to play in AR but none of the ones that I played really nailed the physics perfectly, this one did. However, one game mode isn’t enough and I do hope that NBA will add more game modes and a leaderboard for each one of them.

NBA AR app is free and I highly recommend downloading it and playing it.



NBA AR app offers a realistic pop-a-shot-type gameplay experience with extra features for NBA fans. That said, it falls short with an unoptimized visual and AR experience and lack of game modes that will keep players entertained on the long run. Overall, a really fun app for those of you who search for a polished pop-a-shot ARKit game.