VC Implementation Threatens The Future Of The NBA 2K Series

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Posted December 10th, 2013 at 3:45 pm

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It’s somewhat startling to look back just a few weeks and see evaluations of NBA 2K14 that did not mention alarming tactics instituted by 2K Sports that would greatly affect consumers. The game for all intents and purposes requires an online connection and VC has been baked into almost every mode in a way that detracts from the enjoyment of the product. Of course reviews also didn’t bother to check how worthless the Online Leagues were and whether online even ran properly, and they wouldn’t have caught a roster that went nearly two months without an update and crashing problems that began occurring for many a week or two later.

The way VC has been implemented has brought about the most outrage and those feelings are justified. 2K14 is a full retail $60 purchase that is designed in a manner to push consumers to spend additional money on it. In many cases it is not optional, forces gamers to decide on a single mode to fully invest in rather than being able to play in the fashion they so choose, and ultimately appears to determine where 2K directs their development resources. 

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VC, which stands for Virtual Currency and drive’s the game’s economy, has always been problematic ever since it debuted in NBA 2K13 and continued to 360/PS3 2K14. Now it has gotten even worse on the Xbox One/PS4. The currency system extends to the new Association mode, known as MyGM, while still being at the heart of MyTeam and a major factor in MyCareer. VC is universally pooled so spending VC in one mode will harm potential in another, and payouts for completing games and tasks organically have been restricted further.

Its effect on MyGM is immediately evident. VC must be spent to unlock abilities – even the most simple of things like changing the team’s rotation. More VC then has to be spent to utilize those abilities. Fail to meet a goal or do what the owner asks because you don’t want to spend the VC or don’t have it on hand and you’ll struggle and risk getting fired. Those who like to sim portions or all of their seasons will be unable to play the mode without spending money as simming does not grant any VC besides the minuscule amounts awarded for meeting season goals.

MyTeam of course is built around the VC model, in similar fashion to Ultimate Team modes in EA Sports titles, and if it were isolated there fewer would complain about it. That’s exactly what EA has done by not instituting a way to pay-to-succeed in its Franchise modes with the community wholeheartedly supporting that decision. It was actually a big point of contention a few years ago with the company assuring that microtransactions would not become a part of Madden’s Connected Careers. Here though 2K Sports chose to ignore consumer feedback and do what they thought would generate additional revenue without a care to how it would be received.

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The Park, which can house 100 MyPlayer’s just walking around while a portion play on blacktop courts, was designed with VC in mind. Want to be able to compete in the setting? Spend money to upgrade your player. Want to avoid looking like a default scrub? Spend money and show off all your gear and accessories in front of others! In MyCareer why would anyone spend their hard earned VC, a year’s worth of games that might barely cover a pair of shoes and outfit, on such pointless things when they can use it to upgrade skills? Again a choice that has to be made or money that will be spent.

Design decisions have clearly been influenced by the presence of VC. Needing to constantly contact the 2K servers, to the extent that many of the features of the game can’t be played offline, is because of VC. Features like Online Leagues take a back seat because the company hasn’t figured out how best to monetize it or didn’t have time to implement VC in the fashion they would like just yet.

Forza 5 recently faced blowback on its microtransaction model, which was anything but “micro” considering one of the cars cost over $100 to purchase, and Turn 10 announced changes to the game’s economy would be made. 2K14 has not gotten the same level of publicity but discontent has begun to spread. Over on Reddit there is a huge discussion taking place about VC. Then there are even articles like this one from Cinema Blend that illustrate how reviewers either didn’t care about how VC is being put into use (which is distressing) or simply didn’t recognize what it meant for consumers (and that may be even worse).

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Between complaints about the servers, crashing, rosters, and VC no sports game in recent years has generated such a conflicted reception from consumers as next-gen NBA 2K14. That an excellent game is buried under a multitude of serious problems and design decisions has elicited a very emotional response from those who purchased it. As it relates to VC the concern is about more than just this year with the direction of the series clearly becoming troublesome for fans. Without viable competition it could get even worse but fans now do have a way to voice their displeasure and hopefully that can be enough to enact change going forward.

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  • Chad Norys

    Honestly, it’s really just a matter of playing 1 quick 4 min quarter game on Pro (winning of course) and boom you have rotations….forever. Really makes no sense for people to come one here and complain about it. Not having a ton of VC in MyGM in the beginning does not hinder the game at all and only benefits you later down the road. People complain because they actually have to work to get what they need. I think it is awesome how you kind of control your destiny as a GM. I mean after all it is a Basketball Sim…..?

    • Skopin

      So a real life GM/coach isn’t allowed to change their rotations in their first game?

      • Chad Norys

        Well your not a coach , your a GM (hence the game mode My GM), so if you want to get technical, GM’s don’t set rotations period. However, I understand the frustration, but when you say the most basic functions….you really are referring to setting rotations because IMO that is the only “basic function” you must unlock. The others include ability to fire personel, or upgrade facilities which to me is perfectly understandable that you would have to “earn”. (btw took me about 1 hour of actual playing games to earn enough to unlock rotations, and fire my head coach) 1 hour well spent.

        Bottom line is you pay $60 for the game and that is all 2K is “expecting” of you. So, for people to gripe about real money and having to spend additional funds to make things better is just absurd, just don’t do it. Instead Play the game, earn the credits and spend em like I’ve been saying. BTW, best purchase I have made is buying a weight room for my coach, he loved that.

        • Skopin

          I would agree, but when you buy the game, you buy it with certain expectations. I guarantee that not one person expected to have to unlock the ability to change rotations. No one expected to have to be able to unlock the ability to fire/hire someone.

          Let me put it this way: I work in tech support. I have a lot of different programs and tools that I access to do my job. In terms of VC, it would be like me not being able to access some of my tools without paying. Well I only have to spend one day’s pay to unlock my remote connection tool. I’m not allowed to answer the phone until I unlock that with another day’s work. Basically I am unable to perform my daily tasks until I work a few days, and then I have to use my own pay to unlock those tools.

          That is how VC is structured at this time. Again, it’s not the amount that it costs to unlock the ability to change rotations, it’s that you have to unlock it at all.

          • Chad Norys

            You just compared a videogame to real life……you see the problem there?

            Getting technical, then I would say VC is like earning the privilege to do something. Tech support: working hard and showing up on time earns you the ability to to work on special projects.

          • Skopin

            I don’t see a problem with comparing it to the real thing, because, supposedly, that is what they are trying to emulate. Now if I was trying to compare NBA Jam to real life, then you can make that argument. You can’t pick and choose which things should be realistic and which should be in no way realistic when you are making the game as 2k is marketing it. You yourself compared it to real life when you said that GMs can’t set rotations.

            And your second comment makes no sense. I’m not talking about special projects. I’m talking about basic tasks that are a part of my every day job. But even assuming your argument is valid, I still wouldn’t have to use my own salary to be allowed to work on those special projects. If I did, I would not want to work on those projects. That is how VC is. I have to spend my salary to be able to perform a basic function of my job. As the boss (in the game), my job is to manage my employees. Why should I have to pay to do my job?

        • Alex Kappel

          AMEN! Well said

        • Just a guy

          So if I’m hired as a GM for an NBA team in real life, I’m not allowed to fire my Head Coach or my Head Scout for an hour after I sign? If I don’t want to wait to have my team play 4 games I have to pay currency for that right? That’s news to me!

          • Chad Norys

            Yea you’re thinking way outside the box. You and the guy above are trying way to hard to refute my argument, but you are both failing miserably.

            I’ll tell you what I told him. It’s not about spending the currency on these regular tasks. It’s about earning the privilege to do so. 2k wanted to create a way to make it feel realistic. You are not going to be a first year GM and walk in the door and fire your head coach in 5 minutes…It’s just not going to happen unless you are the Sac Kings or Jacksonville Jaguars. This is why it’s a one time purchase. Once you have it you will never have to do it again. Everything is made to simulate earning the ability to do something. On that note, it’s the first year they’ve really done the GM mode (so expect some details to be worked out and tested).

    • Keith.

      Great post, Chad.

    • Guest

      Your argument is that it’s more sim…So a real life coach has to pay to change his rotations? It’s not about the amount. It’s that you have to unlock the ability to perform the most basic functions. Why do you have to play one game just to be able to unlock the ability to do something in another?

  • Maxim

    2k14 is easily the best looking and playing sports games I have ever played, that said the praise ends there. It is ridiculous that you pay full price for a game and unless you are connected to the internet you are reduced to what can only be explained as virtually a “demo”.

  • cabinsea

    You can also be one of the people like Chris Smoove that lose their My Player to a glitch. Even if you spent money oh well 2K says youre SOL.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWxbLPoLtJ8

  • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

    Thanks. Ultimately that’s what I hope for…people being able to make the best decision for themselves. Thanks for the kind words!

  • YoDawg

    Today I learned that EA having a monopoly on Football games is equal to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

  • swimfunk

    I don’t know how they can get away with selling a game that has broken modes. There are no plans to fix online lgs at least none that I’ve seen. They killed off an entire online community and worst part is they seem not to care. They got bigger fish to fry right now (roster updates that don’t update.. smh, ppl not getting their VC they paid for, glitched myplayers, etc.) In short it’s a mess.

  • 2kballer

    at least 2k put’s out a game thats worth playing….pasta why don’t you go on a rampage of how EA released that horrible nba live 14 and expect’s people to pay 60 buck’s…..Your very good at criticizing nba2k,why don’t you criticize EA for promising this great return to basketball after 4 yrs to only release a crappy game.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      I’ve criticized NBA Live 14 heavily…I guess you haven’t paid much attention over the past month (or really the last six months). Thankfully almost no one bought it.

  • Skopin

    How is that in any way related to this topic?

  • Aaron

    I give NBA 2K credit for VC such a great business idea. I am a businessman and think its genius.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      It’s not genius if it turns people away from buying your product now or in the future. It’s a very short-sighted way to approach things while damaging long term consumer satisfaction and retention levels.

      • Keith.

        Last year 2K13 was #8 on the NPD charts for November and this year they’re #6. They’ve also started selling more copies over all than Madden, which is absurd when you think about the popularity of the NFL compared to the NBA.

        So I’d say 2K is doing just fine.

        • Keith.

          Speaking of, I just saw this posted on one of the financial boards:

          “NBA2K14 sold 45% more units in Nov 2013 compared to what 2K13 sold in Nov 2012″

          Overall, Take Two sales were up 91% compared to Nov 2013″

          Very impressive!

        • Skopin

          Where are you getting your sales numbers? NBA 2k14 is not out-selling Madden 25 on any platform.

          And you go ahead and keep thinking that 2k is doing just fine. Most people had no idea what was in store for them with NBA 2k14. If they continue on this path, their numbers will decline quickly.

          For all of Keith.’s comments accusing people of being EA GameChangers, I have to think 2k has a similar program being headed up by himself.

          • Keith.

            Madden and NBA2K are very close in sales on all platforms atm. But remember, NBA2K stays on NPD’s Top 10 list until June (or at least it has the last 2 years), whereas Madden will be off by January or February.

        • RatingsWizard

          An argument could be made that the NBA is as popular as the NFL. The main argument used is that the Super Bowl is one of the highest rated events of the year, but I think a good counter-argument to that is the fact that the Super Bowl is just one game, whereas the NBA Finals is a series and could be possibly looked at in a cumulative total of the entire series.

  • CSaint

    dude, you have some issues that need working out…. you get this torn about 1 post of a video game?

    • Keith.

      It’s fun to argue. Particularly when it involves sticking up for either of the best sports game developers in the business (SCEA and 2K), who’ve each given me hours and hours of enjoyment with their games, and who’ve done the most to advance the ball over the years. Picking on the worst dev in the business (Tiburon) and the company who started it all (EA) is also worth my time. But that’s just me.

      • CSaint

        do you bro, that’s not living a nice life though….

      • Quit_While_You’re_A_Head

        So you’re willing to blindly follow developers like you consistently advocate others not to.

  • Al

    I dont think even the most hardcore 2k fans can side with 2ks decision and the game they released tbh, it’s a disgrace what theyve done to the consumers

    There are so many things theyve done and all these faults hit the fans in the face all at once, mainly the vc trash and always online crap

    Its unfortunate as the gameplay is pretty solid

  • Al

    Also im now rooting for ea more than ever, last time they delivered a solid basketball game, 2k came back the following year with nba 2k11

  • MBird

    I highly doubt that we will be made aware of anything negative.

  • Details

    LOL!

  • thatzwhatido7

    Its crazy i bought $20 worth of vc on x1 launch they charged my card and i never recieved.my vc coins ive called 2k numerous times for the past month nothing been fixed i couldnt even buy anymore vc because when i try i get a transaction error code one of my fav franchises is turning into the worst experiences i want to know if anyone else is having this problem

  • thatzwhatido7

    I bought vc coins on x1 launch day bought $20 worth they charged my card never recieved my vc.i called 2k and they keep saying we will fix this problem for you now i can’t even buy vc because i get a error transaction error anyone else having this problem

  • Just a guy

    My lord. “Beginning of the end”? Sometimes you guys just go completely overboard with your dramatic posts.

  • Swag-Cizzle

    Man, was supposed to get 2k14 next month but after reading all this vc bullshit, I’m thinking twice about it. 2k has never gone this far in the past. Sure, they implemented vc back in 13 but they never did it to an extent wherein it’d be nearly impossble to acquire much needed vc in-game for upgrades and shit without shelling out some cash for vc or countless days of constant grinding. They’re practically forcing us to buy the shit. They better get their shit together, perhaps by dramatically increasing the amount of vc one acquires for accomplishing stuff in-game or even removing this vc system altogether. As for me, I’d be withholding from buying 2k14 until they fix these issues with a new patch or something, or wait until they remove the stupid vc in 15. If not, then I guess 2k has just lost a faithful customer.

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