Policing of user-created content in NBA 2K18 was an inevitability

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 9:45 am

When publishers provide the ability for consumers to customize elements in their video games and share it with others they become vulnerable to legal action should they not closely monitor it for any inappropriate content or trademark violations and respond to takedown requests from rights holders. That makes what is happening right now in NBA 2K18 a predictable outcome, as Kotaku reports that players of the game are expressing frustration over the removal of user-created t-shirts that feature logos of brands that have not authorized their use. 

The t-shirt creator is a new addition to the NBA 2K series, available within the neighborhood area where designers can put their shirts up for vote and if they reach 100 of them other players can purchase to equip on their MyPlayer.

So why would something seemingly as trivial as a t-shirt creator end up being monitored so closely for trademarked content when other create and share features have been able to fly under the radar? One might point directly at Virtual Currency as 2K was making money off purchases of the shirts. There’s also the potential conflict with brands that have paid for a place in NBA 2K18 but were seeing other companies get what amounted to as free advertising.

Features like Fighter Share in Fight Night didn’t make the transition to EA Sports UFC because too many people created the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Harry Potter, and Rocky Balboa with tens and hundreds of thousands of consumers downloading those characters. Teambuilder, a terrific feature for NCAA Football, wasn’t introduced to Madden because of similar concerns. It’s a lot easier to simply avoid the headaches.

This development related to the t-shirt creator is another clear demonstration of why the “highly-customizable unlicensed game” is of no interest to major publishers.