NBA 2K18 now stands as the lowest rated edition of the series in a decade

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 12:00 pm

The story around NBA 2K18 since its release just over two weeks ago has largely centered on consumer reaction to the aggressive monetization and the influence that microtransactions have had directly on the game’s design. Mainstream gaming media and Youtube personalities have covered and escalated the situation¬†which involves the most popular and promoted mode.

It’s also not just user-reviews on Metacritic and Steam that have slammed NBA 2K18. The game is now the lowest-rated NBA 2K game since 2007’s NBA 2K8 by professional reviewers on Metacritic. The sole reason for that are the microtransactions and their harmful effects which several outlets have penalized the game for with low scores, citing the MyPlayer based modes in particular which have been designed in a way to pressure people into spending money to unlock the fun and ability to compete online.¬†

For a game as highly anticipated as NBA 2K18, and a series which has been a media darling for years, it’s surprising to see such an uproar and unified response from consumers and coverage from the media that recognizes why they are unhappy. Another course-correction on the monetization front is sure to come both in the short and the long term, and it’ll have to be far more significant than the first gesture of lowering the price for character hair cuts and facial hair.

There are a few immediate actions 2K Sports could take to improve the situation. They could heavily increase the amount of VC earned from playing the game or they could reduce the cost of upgrading attributes and/or purchasing cosmetic items, with the former probably being the cleanest and most sensible temporary solution. However the more fundamental changes that have to be made such as starting MyPlayers at a higher Overall Rating, creating online matchmaking that avoids putting low rated characters in games against high rated characters, and separating currencies (both by mode and skills vs cosmetic items) will have to wait for 2K19.

Unfortunately for 2K18 the actual developers that have worked extremely hard to create a very good game had little to nothing to do with the monetization strategy which has overshadowed their impressive efforts. Sales of 2K18 are unlikely to be affected in any measurable manner but there was always going to come a time where the series hit its peak – whether due to something self-inflicted or having reached market saturation – so 2K will have to make a concerted effort next year to demonstrate how they’ve adjusted things to get back to offering a game which has a primary directive to please consumers first rather than go directly for their wallets.