Make no mistake, the current state of gaming seems built to capitalize on the inherent lack of time that eventually plagues all gamers. There simply isn’t enough time to play every game that we want to, so financial shortcuts are created – even in some of the best games of all time, we see this come into practice. For me, the NBA 2K series might be the worst offender when it comes to pay-to-win gameplay, and I’m not at all hopeful that things will change in NBA 2K24.
In-game monetization is such a core part of the sports videogame experience that its negative effects are so easily cast aside. NBA 2K24 will be a pay-to-win game to quite an extreme extent, of that I’m sure. Despite this, I’m almost certain it will sell in excess of ten million copies, further solidifying its stance as Take-Two’s second top-selling franchise behind Grand Theft Auto. This leaves me pondering if there is any way back from this crushing sense of doom created by pay-to-win games like NBA 2K?
Necessary or predatory?
While the microtransactions within NBA 2K are not quite as close to gambling as say, the FIFA (soon to be EA FC) franchise, they still exist to help players gain a competitive edge and ultimately win out against other players who may not be able to put real-world funds into the game beyond the price of admission. As someone who was introduced to basketball through the NBA 2K series, it’s been shocking to see this sharp decline happen over the last few years.
MyCareer is a fantastic experience that has ultimately become too much of a grind for casual gamers. This leads to a very important decision being made with each installment: do I sit tight and fall behind knowing that the grind will reduce the amount of fun I have with the game early on, or do I just purchase some VC and catch up to everyone else so I can be competitive.
Quite frankly, it’s concerning to me that this has become such an accepted thought process and I’ve since decided that the overall value of VC in NBA 2K is far too great. This one currency can unlock so much within both MyCareer and MyTeam yet the ability to effectively earn it in game is poor unless you play on the hardest difficulty and for hours at a time.
It’s all about balance
There’s no way to outright predict how bad the monetization will be in NBA 2K24, but I have enough history to work with in order to make a confident prediction that it’s going to be bad. Players who can offer their valuable time to the grind will once again get max value for their initial investment, but surely they must feel alienated by the fact that casual players can simply pay to get on their level.
Yes, there is still a skill ceiling to overcome in online play, and usually it’s pretty clear when someone has paid their way into high-level matchmaking, but there appears to be no consideration for how this affects everyone involved. The same could be said for when a player who has committed to the grind decides to head online and get pitted against a team of 90+ overall players who can dominate the match, even though they are less talented, mechanically. Nothing ever really adds up and it leaves me scratching my head every year.
There’s often enough incentive with single-player content to keep me coming back, but having already promised to not spend any money on VC this year, it appears as though I may also be writing off the possibility of me being able to play most online game modes too. I’m starting to realize that NBA 2K might actually have the worst monetization practice in gaming, for players at least. I can imagine it is viewed as a huge win within the Take-Two boardroom.
I’m not trying to shout from the rooftops in order to get people to stop playing, or paying, for currency in NBA 2K24, but instead just have people open their eyes to the dilemma it has created for so many. Perhaps if the game adopted a free-to-play model, this wouldn’t be an issue, although the chances of that are about as high as the GTA 6 release date appearing this year.