NBA 2K19 hasn’t had the best track record with fans, but adding unskippable ads to the game’s loading screens has stirred up bad blood between 2K and players again.
Between the lack of bug fixes for MyGM and MyLeague, exploitable gameplay in online modes, and players being forced to grind in-game currency or purchase it through microtransactions to progress in MyCareer, this isn’t a good look.
In the loading times between games, players usually watch a short episode of 2KTV, a show that generally has a host talk about some aspect of the game or interviewing an NBA player. If players watch the show, they earn a small amount of in-game currency, VC or Virtual Currency, to use in modes like MyCareer or MyTeam.
For those who don’t want to watch the show, they can typically skip it in favor of editing their starting lineups for the game or watching a simplified version of NBA on TNT, complete with Ernie Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal.
However, a recent development has some players running into a trailer for Snowfall, a TV series on FOX. This advertisement plays out the entire time a game is loading, not giving players the option to skip it at all.
That means no bypassing it to get to the lineups menu and no Shaq bantering about BBQ Chicken with Earnie and Kenny. And if that wasn’t crime enough, Take-Two Interactive had the gall to patch this ad in after selling the game for $3.99 across all platforms.
“The sneaky bastards,” one Reddit commenter said. “Sell the game at a $3 price point to get an influx of players so they can pull this shit. Such a predatory company, it’s disgusting.”
That is just one example of the outrage happening on Reddit and other forums about the ads. Fans are not happy that they now have to deal with something else that negatively impacts their experience with the game, even with the next game entry set to release in four months.
Unfortunately, for longtime NBA 2K players like myself, we have gotten used to being force-fed awful content just for trying to enjoy playing as our favorite players. For example, last year in 2K18, players had to pay VC to get a haircut for their character.
In game modes like MyCareer, VC is the main focus. It’s what you use to improve your character, purchase accessories, and customize animations to use during a game. It is already a grind if you don’t want to spend actual money to get more VC, but forcing players to spend it on haircuts was awful.
2K later removed that feature earlier this year and attempted to make things right by having the barber inform players it was on the house, due to previous mistakes. It was a show of good faith that quickly faded once the game had been out for a bit.
MyTeam is the typical loot box driven card game that has players spend in-game currency to buy packs in hopes that they can get players they want. It is also full of players who have found the perfect way to cheat the gameplay loop.
For instance, if a new player wants to unlock the auction to purchase individual cards without buying packs, they need to play a few online matches first. I jumped in one day because I wanted to try it out for the first time since 2K15 and immediately matched with someone the game said was on my level.
In actuality, my opponent had manipulated their lineup by giving all of the available minutes to players with less than 70 overall rankings. Their strategy altered their team grade enough to match with me, and they then proceeded to insert five of the best cards in the game into their starting five.
As someone who’s played the game for years, it still wasn’t a close game since 2K rellies so heavily on player stats to decide if shots go in or who grabs a rebound. My starter pack team couldn’t compete with someone who had a team with cards like a maxed out LeBron James.
This issue happened three more times before I just gave up and went back to playing MyGM – even though that has its flaws.
The point here is, 2K is placing unskippable ads in a game that some people purchased at launch for $59.99. The fact that they think it is okay to shove that in, especially after putting the game on sale is a sign that they don’t care about their player base.
“I’m definitely skipping 2K games until they figure their shit out,” another user on Reddit said. “These games just get more and more anti-consumer each year, and it’s fucking ridiculous. We gotta start applying pressure with our wallets if we want anything done, fuck them.”
The game already hosts some of the most intrusive microtransactions around, but this is crossing a line into even more dangerous territory.