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NBA 2K20 MyCareer: The Kotaku Review

NBA 2K20 is one of the best sports games I’ve played in a long time. It’s also a giant scam that is perpetually gross, and sometimes even terrifying, to be around.

This might sound weird considering this is a sports game, but 2K’s basketball titles are some of the hardest things I ever have to review for this site. What I perceive to be the “good” and the “bad” of each entry in the series aren’t things that can be easily separated. In 2K20 they’re intertwined, everything good about it undermined by—and indivisible from—everything bad.

Wait, is this a review of NBA 2K20?

Nope. As we always do, this is only a review of 2K20’s MyCareer mode, not the entire game. I think its scope, coupled with the focus 2K places on it in terms of creating and selling their game, make it interesting enough to warrant this focus.

I’ve spoken so much about this game’s obsession with microtransactions at this point that I don’t want to bore you again here. Suffice to say, NBA 2K20—a full-priced retail game—is rotten with attempts to get you to spend real money on everything from players to clothing to player stats. Some game modes, like MyTeam, are built entirely around this thirst, but even in MyCareer’s singleplayer you’re being hounded.

For years 2K’s MyCareer storylines have been a disaster, saddled with ludicrous paths to the NBA and downright embarrassing attempts at “hello fellow kids” humour. That’s all been replaced in 2K20 with the earnest tale of a college kid who takes a principled stand against organisational hijinx, only to see his draft stock plummet.

An unexpectedly topical jab at the NCAA, this year’s MyCareer story has you play a handful of college games before embarking on a journey towards the NBA that includes invitational tournaments, the Draft Combine (complete with mini-games for stuff like vertical leap) and Summer League.

It’s a lightning-fast introduction, which you’ll blow through in only a few hours, but it’s also by far and away the most authentic career path the series has ever managed. Like FIFA’s The Journey, while this certainly has its hokey moments, it’s sincere with most of what it’s attempting, and slots in nicely alongside your actual NBA play as a result. It’s wild remembering that only two years ago players were cast as a DJ getting invited to practice with an NBA team, only this year to live the more realistic life of a high profile college recruit, agent discussions and all.

MyCareer’s story—particularly during its cutscene-heavy prologue—is a fulfilment of almost everything the mode has been trying to do for years now. Celebrity cameos (particularly Idris Elba’s performance as your coach) are tasteful and very well-done, the story skips along without lingering too long in any one place (last year’s G-League focus went for waaaaaaay too long) and by the time you’re an established NBA player you really feel like you’ve earned your place.

It’s absolutely no surprise to find, then, that all this progress is then swiftly undone, not just by the series’ usual microtransaction nonsense, but by 2K’s slavish hunger for Brands™ as well.

This year’s story mode was handled by SpringHill, LeBron James’ own production company (James is credited as Executive Producer), and the setup for MyCareer’s attack on the NCAA feels more like an ad for SpringHill (especially when you consider the personal beef) than a genuine attempt to explore the issue, especially since the company’s co-founder Maverick Carter is one of the more prominent characters in the story prologue.

This is most evident, and depressing, in the way your player’s conflict with the college establishment is portrayed. After a teammate is injured and has his scholarship cut, you take a stand against your coach and school, and as a result find yourself benched ahead of the most important game of the season.

It’s a brave thing to do, but the way the game handles it after the fact is typical of where the series finds itself in 2019. After meeting an agent, you’re quickly introduced to Carter, who views your actions through the lens of what kind of sponsorship deals you can attract, and which Brands™ want to share your story (including his own).

That’s it. That’s the extent of how NBA 2K20 views an act of personal sacrifice, one that barely scratches the surface of some of the more pressing issues affecting college sports and how it compensates the athletes that drive its profits.. As a marketing stunt. An opportunity to sign some contracts. Like they looked at Colin Kaepernick’s struggles with the NFL and all they got out of it was his Nike deal.

The series, which has long been pioneering ways for Brands™ to infiltrate every corner of your experience on the court, from Gatorade-infused timeouts to Nike and Adidas apparel contracts, has finally found a way to weave them into the story itself.

Every season I complain that 2K’s desire for microtransaction spending and advertiser encroachment has got worse, every year I hope the next edition of the game addresses at least some of that, and every year I’m left increasingly disappointed.

It doesn’t have to be like this! No other major sports game tries to pull this kind of shit. Even EA, the supposed wORsT coMpaNY iN VidEO gAmES, has the sense to keep its brand partnerships limited to realistic broadcast expectations, and to not charge players for singleplayer game mode content.

And yet year after year 2K, despite intense fan protest online, turn the dial up and try to squeeze everyone just a little bit more. Clearly there are millions of fans who either don’t care, or are at least willing to suffer through it all, and it’s for these players that 2K is happy to continue building their entire game around the central conceits of microtransactions and advertising.

But for me, someone who just wants to have a little story alongside a singleplayer sports experience—which I really enjoy when I’m on the court!— NBA 2K20 is a new low.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Feel Gross Just Watching NBA 2K20’s Loot Box Trailer

NBA 2K20 is supposed to be a game primarily about playing basketball, but you wouldn’t know that from the game’s latest trailer, which makes the game look like something you might see in a casino.

Released on Monday, the “MyTeam” trailer for NBA 2K20 shows off all the ways you can recruit better players and win prizes through randomized games. As in games prior, the whole system revolves around card packs. Open more packs, get (hopefully) more rare and more powerful players. Players can even evolve now, sort of like Pokémon. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Then there’s the “reimagined Triple Threat” mode with “tons more prizes!” At this point, only 30 seconds in, the trailer shows what players can get for racking up wins, including in-game currency, more card packs, and even a chance to “spin to win!” further jackpot prizes.

There are also ball drops—you know, those minigames like on The Price Is Right where you watch a ball randomly fall through a series of pegs hoping it hits one of the color-coded platforms on the way down. The trailer even shows NBA 2K streamer CashNastyGaming bobbing back and forth between anguish and excitement while watching it unfold. And, of course, there’s a literal slot machine you can pull to match three gems and potentially win back your self-respect.

The series’ My Team mode has been trending toward being a microtransaction-stuffed nightmare for some time, but rather than try to temper that at all, the latest trailer appears to be an even further embrace of that business model. Fans on the game’s subreddit immediately roasted 2K Games for highlighting a literal slot machine in the mode’s latest trailer, despite that 2K had claimed to Belgian and Dutch officials in the past that there’s no gambling in the game.

Of course, whether or not mini-games involving wheel spins, ball drops, and slot machines qualify as actual gambling if they don’t involve actual cash, it’s still a grim way to pitch the biggest basketball game around.

Source: Kotaku.com

NBA 2K Announces WNBA Players, A River Of Sexism Follows

NBA 2K20

Yesterday, when WNBA star Breanna Stewart let her fans know she’ll be in NBA 2K20, coming out September 9, the top response asked whether the basketball game, which has a MyCareer mode, has a MyKitchen mode, too.

The 20-year-old basketball sim is finally getting woman basketball pros, publisher Take Two announced yesterday. “It’s just as important for girls and boys to be able to see females as role models,” said Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker in a new NBA 2K20 trailer. While lots of fans agree and are expressing an overflowing enthusiasm for the memorialization of these athletes’ talents, a contingent of oversensitive people are spewing vitriol all over NBA 2K social media.

Here’s one of the most popular memes, which NBA 2K subreddit moderators told Kotaku they’ve removed many times over the last day:

“As soon as the news dropped, there was a vocal portion of the community who was strongly against it,” said the head NBA 2K subreddit moderator, who goes by the online handle Yyy2k. “Some had reasons like how this was an unneeded feature that took time away from development of ‘more important’ things. Some went for sexist comments/jokes/memes making fun of women and WNBA players.” He’s modded dozens of these over the last couple of hours, he says, in part because “Reddit and Twitter are both places where memes can trend in an instant and so far the ‘cool’ thing to do has been to make sexist comments.”

“Why are females in an NBA game?” and “This is a L we all know girls can’t hoop” are some of the comments below NBA 2K’s trailer on Twitter. Several fans have made the “MyKitchen” joke or other jokes about pregnancy in the MyCareer mode. Lots of men are loudly and emphatically complaining that they “don’t care.” At least a dozen across social media platforms are saying that resources were unnecessarily dedicated to WNBA’ inclusion when they could have been spent on server reliability. The comments section below 2K’s official blog post about the news is rife with comments about how, to preserve “realism,” the WNBA players can’t play on par with the male ones.

One of the other NBA 2K subreddit moderators, who goes by MrPeterson15, says he also moderates a subreddit for NBA Live, EA’s basketball game, which in 2017 also got WNBA players. “The reception was quite positive,” he said, adding that “Almost all Live players are either disgruntled former 2K players, or players who play both.”

Both subreddit mods are delighted by how readily community members tip them off to misogynistic posts, with Yyy2k noting that “There’s a pretty fine line between not liking an aspect about the game and just straight sexism.” And yet, NBA 2K’s Twitter, Facebook and Reddit are aflame. It seems fueled by derision for the WNBA itself, which is less financially successful than the NBA, and a dismissive attitude for women’s athleticism. Comments about how WNBA stars rarely dunk and therefore won’t be as exciting in the video game, were common on the NBA 2K Facebook announcement.

Reached for comment, a 2K spokesperson told Kotaku, “Our franchise has always been rooted in capturing the true essence of basketball–it doesn’t matter who is playing–if you love the game, you love the game. As true lovers of basketball, we take great pride in bringing the women’s game to the millions of NBA 2K fans around the globe.”

Over Twitter, another wave swelled on the opposite coast as the haters. Under WNBA star Candace Parker’s announcement, one post echoed several others: “We need a WNBA video game!!!!”

Source: Kotaku.com