The woes of NBA2K15


Or why it’s hard being a NBA2K addict

If you’re a non-sports game fan, then your only association with NBA2K is probably the image above of my boy Jeffrey. Poor Jeffrey, he’s literally become the face of an entire franchise.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t. NBA2K is consistently one of the top-selling games each year (right up there with your Maddens, FIFAs and CODs). You would think with all the straight cash that 2K collects from this franchise it would mean that each year we get a premium product built on the backs of previous generations of success.

For the most part, this is true. Bugs aside, NBA2K is still a solid basketball game and really the only team in the league worth talking about. EA gave it a good effort this past year, but NBA Live is still nowhere near as all-around good as NBA2K.

I love this game. I spend more time with it each year than any other game and consider it my favorite series of all time.

So what’s wrong? Why is this series failing in the eyes of so many of us who pour hours upon hours into this game?

The answer: Fucking VC (Virtual Currency).

When I think about everything wrong with the game, it usually comes back to VC. The very idea of it. The very idea that this game has been built around the motivation of a company that rakes in millions on game sales alone to continue to milk its fans for every dime and cent they can.

Nearly every mechanic in the game is based around VC or MT for MyTeam mode. It’s essentially a traditional experience progression system that is presented as something that you can buy in the most blatant way possible. Sure, you can earn VC or MT simply from playing, but you’ll be behind the others that can’t wait to waste their money on beating everyone.

The game shouldn’t be like that. It should be about basketball. Not who can buy the most with the most money. Granted, you still need skill for some aspects of the game, but as with most online games, you’ll be faced with various cheesers and the fact that some are just willing to spend money while you are tasked with grinding your way along.

It would be one thing if the money 2K made from VC actually contributed to the game’s well-being in a very visible manner, but really, I don’t think it does. Why? Because the game is still plagued with bad ideas, input lag online and those hilarious game bugs that provide hours of entertainment on YouTube.

You see that shit? Jrue Holiday has no arms! He’s an outstanding player and deserves arms!

And it’s not just visible glitches. It’s gameplay mechanic decisions. Here’s a rough breakdown of some annoyances you’ll find with 2K that just shouldn’t be:

  • Unskippable cutscenes: In MyCareer mode you are forced to go along with a tacked-on story mode that adds nothing to the game. Some you can skip, some you can’t. When you can’t, it fucking sucks.
  • No matchmaking for Park/Rec mode: One of the best things about this year’s 2K is the revamped Park mode, but it still lacks polish. Because there is no matchmaking, you’ll constantly see lower-ranked guys be shunned away from courts and you’ll be matched with trolls who have no idea what a basketball is. Let’s not even get into the loading that is required for not only getting into a match, but switching courts or trying to join friends.
  • Forced animations: There are times when you’re playing NBA2K that you feel like you aren’t really playing. The amount of animations jammed into the game will often times cause your player to either run out of bounds, run into other players, or just do the stupidest shit imaginable. Do we need animations that do this 2K? No, really, do we? When I push a button, I damn well expect that button to do something!
  • Inconsistent enforcement of game rules: Take this obvious “charge” for example: Click
  • Everything is online: If you’re not connected, you ain’t playing (in that you aren’t earning VC). This shit just shouldn’t be. I understand it’s probably to help against exploiters, cheaters, what have you, but it hurts the average player — especially when the notorious 2K servers go down.

So what can we do as fans? Do we boycott the game? Well, I can’t do that. I love it too much and, as mentioned, it’s the only real basketball game that us b-ball junkies can call worth playing.

As usual, the best way to send a company a message is to vote with your wallets. Stop buying VC. Stop buying Day One. It’s that easy.

And really, gamers need to keep these things in mind for nearly all franchises that have seen their decline. Stop buying into the hype. Stop pre-ordering based on hyperbolic previews. Do the right thing, be a smart consumer that expects a quality product for the $60+ you happen to be plopping down.

Do this, and maybe, just maybe we can actually get the games we not only deserve, but the games we know the creators can make.