Every year, fans of the NBA 2K series wait in front of their local BestBuy or Gamestop, fidgeting their thumbs with eagerness to get their hands on the latest rendition of the game they’ve come to love. With a large online community and representation on video streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, NBA 2K has cemented itself as one of the most successful franchises of modern gaming. While the franchise, and it’s fans, were all feeling the benefits of a strong relationship between developer and gamer, something terribly wrong happened at 2K and has developed in to a serious problem.
Monopolizing and competition
NBA 2K really came into popularity after the collapse of rival franchise NBA Live from EA Sports. EA never really recovered after taking a four year hiatus in 2010, coming back with a proto-type that the internet tore to shreds. Since then, EA has focused on pushing the mobile version of NBA Live, rather than trying to re-enter the console market.
With the only other real-life simulation of NBA basketball out of the way, NBA 2K began to form a a monopoly on the basketball video game marketplace. Sure, games like NBA Jam and NBA Playgrounds exist, but the arcade-like basketball simulators have always taken a back seat to the real thing. Fans of the game urge to be able to take the Philadelphia 76ers and turn them into a dynasty through franchise mode, or make their own zero-to-hero story in MyCareer. 2K knows this, but somewhere along the line this stopped being a priority for them. The same issues year in and year out continue to show up in the game, some of which are easy fixes. For years, the NBA 2K servers have been the butt end of the community jokes, to the point where online outages for days on end aren’t even surprising anymore.
2K Community: Can we get better severs and a Draft mode
— ᴍᴏɴᴇʏᴍᴀsᴏɴ ʟɢ (@M0NEYMAS0N) May 10, 2017
While I understand how hard it is to maintain a server that large, we’ve seen other games with smaller player bases that have no problem monitoring their traffic properly. With the tools available to these companies, it’s hard to vouch for a game where the online aspect is basically non-existent.
Pay to win
Microtransactions have been a widely debated topic how how and when they should be used, with some games giving a clear advantage to those who are willing to pay their way through a game rather than playing it. NBA 2K is one of the worst offenders for it, with just about everything in the game available to you for an extra cost. Want to max out your MyPlayer stats before even playing a game? Want the best MyTeam imaginable so you can crush everyone in your sights? Well, 2K allows you to do this by paying the premium on top of the cost for the game. NBA 2K players have seen their motivation to grind their way though three seasons of MyCareer diminish, seeing that all their hard work is matched by someone who decided on the $300 of Virtual Currency alternative. I’m not saying that 2K should take out their currency system all together, but when other games have mastered the concept of purchasing cosmetic changes or season passes, it makes 2K look really behind the times.
The worst part of this entire ordeal is that 2K knows their customer’s pains. The same problems have been going on for years and with the amount of people they’ve hired for community relations and support, it really makes it hurt that much more.
We’re aware of the #NBA2K17 Auction House issues and are working on it. We’ll update when we have more to report. Thanks for your patience.
— 2K Support (@2KSupport) May 2, 2017
The worst part about all of this is that 2K doesn’t seem sorry about anything when it comes to their shortcomings. We’ve seen companies dish out in-game goodies or other compensation for server outages or other hiccups. Most recently, the minds behind MLB The Show 17 give out some stuff for people who experienced server problems when the game first game out. A few years ago, EA was giving out free games to people who bought Sim City early due to the server outages. These sort of things are repeated occurrences in NBA 2K every year, yet the company refuses to compensate players for lost time. It’s become industry standard to compensate players for issues like this, and 2K falls short of the bar every single time.
If you enjoy the 2K series, then by all means, you do you. I for one love the games myself, but even the most die-hard NBA 2K fan is aware of this issue, and it’s up to 2K to fix these issues for their customer before someone else comes along and does it for them.