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Opinion

With Regard To Our NBA 2K18 Review

Here's what happened.

Yesterday afternoon, we found ourselves embroiled in a minor controversy surrounding one of our reviews, as I decided to adjust our NBA 2K18 review after it had been posted and temporarily remove the score, pending a statement from 2K about our complaints.

In our review, Aran raised the issue of the rate at which you can earn the game’s Virtual Currency from play, how pervasive VC is through the game, and how this pushes you towards the microtransactions in a manner that seriously impacts the game.

Sadly, 2K have not been able to issue us a statement in a timely fashion and so we have now returned the 3/10 score to the bottom of our review, 24 hours after the review was originally posted.

So in retrospect, did I make a mistake in altering our published review? Possibly. Were there good reasons to change the review? Definitely. Most importantly, was this from undue publisher pressure? No.

The conclusion that was originally posted read, “If you’re a series fan you may enjoy what you see, and the score below doesn’t indicate the quality of the core basketball game, but rather protests how utterly invasive the microtransactions have now become.” To categorise our review and its score as a protest vote against 2K was wrong on a number of levels, and it was something I believed I had removed when editing. Evidently I didn’t or didn’t realise that my edits had not been submitted properly while travelling. Either way, it was largely for this reason that 2K’s PR team got in touch after the review was published.

We give plenty of leeway to our reviewers, so if they reason their position well enough and it matches the score, then it will stand as is. In this case, Aran argued well enough for my liking that the balance between microtransaction and what you earn in game was dragging down the potential enjoyment for players. Whether entries have receive a 6/10 or a 9/10 in the past, it’s been a consistent point that he’s addressed in NBA 2K reviews for the last half decade, and it’s exactly this point that I relayed to 2K when they contacted me.

Yes, they asked us to reconsider the score or shift to a “review in progress”, but I can’t state strongly enough that there was no “pressure” or threat of blacklisting made or even implied. If this were the case, the demand would have been for the review to be removed entirely, which we would not have done.* However, the word “protest” was still misplaced and needed to be removed, and it was while doing this that the olive branch of a statement surrounding planned changes and adjustments to NBA 2K18 was made. So I made the call to change the score to pending at the same time, get on my flight and hope for something remarkable when I landed.

While 2K are listening and reacting – they lowered the pricing of in game haircuts on Tuesday, for example – they still can’t offer us specific information on or off the record about changes that are incoming. Hopefully they will be revealed soon, because as Aran wrote and as many people across Reddit, Twitter and NeoGAF agree that the demands of virtual currency and the push towards microtransactions in NBA 2K18 are currently too much.

In light of this, and as was always the most likely outcome, the 3/10 score has been restored to our review and the wording remains intact aside from the changes to the conclusion. We’ll look to return to NBA 2K18 down the line to see if and how Visual Concept and 2K rebalance the currency and progression systems and we expect and hope to see significant improvements in this area. Needless to say, they’re now very aware that players aren’t happy, which is perhaps the best thing to come from all of this.

This hasn’t been the most pleasant episode for anyone involved. It’s nice to be the top story on Reddit and NeoGAF, but not for this and not with the maelstrom of speculation that has come with it. With hindsight, a number of things should have been done differently, and for that I sincerely apologise. We’ll learn from these mistakes and do better in future.


*Updated to clarify this hypothetical situation.

29 Comments
  1. Lyts1985
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    When I read the initial review I did think that conclusion sounded controversial and would get a reaction. The score doesn’t sound like it fits the review either. It sounds like the reviewer had fun with the game yet scored it lower purely based on the microtransactions holding him back… very odd.

    That said, reviews are personal opinions, and if the game was ruined for him by the microtransactions then who are we to criticise? In his opinion it drove the game down to a 3/10 and he justified it… Fair enough.

    One thing that I’d have to argue though; isn’t any negative score, strictly speaking, a protest about something that’s wrong with the game? The reviewer is getting lambasted for simply pointing out the truth. Could he have worded it less controversially? Possibly. He’s still right to say it though.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 16:15.
  2. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I’m with you guys, it probably wasn’t ideal taking down the review score temporarily but still an understandable editorial decision given the uncertainty around use of the word ‘protest’.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 17:03.
  3. sunnysmooth
    Member
    Since: Sep 2017

    Thank you for giving NBA2k18 a harsh score and they rightfully deserve it! The only way they will change their methods is consequently media reviews such as yourself.

    I am an older gamer, had a Dreamcast including that first NBA2k game with Iverson on the cover. NBA2k has been the one game through out the years I had dedicated a ton of my time to (which I do not have a lot of due to kids, and a career). When the Legend edition was announced, there was no doubt that I was going to purchase that edition as I did the Kobe Legend edition for 2k17.

    Upon playing the MyCareer in 2018 it was devastating to me how much they changed the game. I did not want to play an RPG running around without a map or navigation trying to find where Mycloset was, and waiting and waiting on load times. I had to turn to YouTube just to figure out where My Court was. It was frustrating running around and not knowing where to go or what to do, and as such I have a bad condition of motion sickness. I was ecstatic of the improved face scan, however the hair cut did not match mine, so after watching YouTube videos, I figured out where the barber was. Then I was confused why getting a haircut required VC which 2k17 didn’t require. I was like fine, it’s only 1,500 and I only needed one haircut. A few hours later after my motion sickness went away, the network connection was disconnected, restarted my Xboxone, and I came to realize the my My Career file I had from Prelude was gone. So no problem I will just create another myplayer file, but now all the Legend edition Shaq digital items were gone also. I submitted a ticket with 2k technical support and awaiting their response. Another important aspect of playing this game is the difficulty levels. I do not play online with other players, and strictly just play mycareer and WOW this game is incredibly HARD. I understand I am only a 60 rated player but I would miss open shots and layups, and ridiculously cannot play any defense on the computer. The game ultimately is frustrating and just not FUN anymore. Literally a huge step backwards from an amazing NBA2k17 game.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 17:07.
  4. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    All credit to you guys for being so open about your decisions. I think you were right to remove the word ‘protest’, you guys know what’s best for your site and it’s not your flavour of rocking the boat. You also deserve a big old pat on the back for this article. Micro transactions have found their place enhancing F2P and you’re right, full price releases using them takes the piss. Well, I say you’re right, I guess I just agree, and TSA’s opinions, personality and honesty are the appeal that’s kept me reading for nine years.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 17:25.
  5. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    So they charge for in-game haircuts? Ahahaha! That very well may be the funniest thing I’ve read all day. Although thinking about it, how exactly do these types of games improve with each new release? What are they on now, game 18? You’d think after 18 games, the basic gameplay would be beyond improvement. It’s basketball for crying out loud. How often do they change the rules? Never? So maybe charging for haircuts is the only logical way forward. But I have zero interest in these annual sports games, so don’t listen to me. I’m sure there have been some major, ‘must have’ improvements in the world of basketball in between NBK17 and NBK18. Pro’s: Crew cut, Side-parting, Afro. Con’s: Couldn’t afford the wax.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 19:22.
    • TSBonyman
      Member
      Since: Dec 2009

      Wait it’s actual haircuts? I thought haircut was just a reference to the players getting shafted ! xD

      Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 19:28.
  6. 3dupunk
    Member
    Since: Sep 2017

    I made an account to thank you and applaud this honest review. You cannot compete online without buying VC, its just not possible when you’re rated a 60 and you have a bunch of players rated an 85 already. 2K has gone to great lengths to protect their VC system. Their first patch was to address the pro-am giving out more rep than they wanted to rather than fixing actual gameplay issues. Like who cares about that when you have MyCareer file saves disappearing left and right. My MyCareer player was deleted, almost a week to the day and pretty much no feedback from 2k. The VC I wasted on that player, gone.

    2K makes you play in an online arena, then they dress you as horrible as possible as to shame you for being virtually broke. They place your rating underneath you, this impacts you in the sense that who wants to play with a lower leveled player. You earn 500-900ish VC a game to start, which doesn’t even get you a pair of pants, let alone some sneakers. To take things further, unlocking clothes/sneakers/accessories is tide to your rating. Also, the offline MyCareer is a baron desert. You cant do anything which is in a sense penalizing players for not wanting to participate in their money-grab. Even when we do give in and buy VC 2k still finds ways to cheat us out of VC by creating certain disadvantages in game. Like the turnovers, a bug that has been in the game for years. This year theres a big issue with pick the opposing AI players setting picks and the animation forces you all around said opposing player. In getting caught in the animation it frees up the player you are guarding to do as they please, and if they can hit 3’s then its OVER!

    Wether you did this for the community, or you were just tired of the nonsense, sincerely I thank you once again for standing up for us the little people!

    Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 02:25.
  7. Dan Jones
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Very well handled TSA!

    In the world of day one editions, pre-order bonuses, retail exclusives and micro-transactions there’s going to come to a point where they are negatively effecting the quality of a game, and rightly so for calling them out for it. If you’re paying #40 for a game and micro-transactions are limiting your progress in certain game modes that’s not right.

    I’d agree that the use of the word ‘protest’ in the conclusion could have come across differently to the main point intended. You’ve stood by the review and the score, and fully justified your actions in the process, so I don’t see why there’s so much fuss (especially on Reddit!).

    Regardless of the review I won’t be buying NBA 2k18, because I bought 2k14 thinking of trying something new and found out I don’t like basketball too much. I’ll stick to F1 and football (even FIFA is riddled with all that ultimate team crap).

    Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 11:39.
  8. doomsday619
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    I’m glad you guys stuck by the review score, why should micro transactions interfere with progress of games especially the prices which we pay for them.
    Being a 2K fan of the NBA and WWE games I was looking at getting this in next couple of weeks but after reading your review and other people’s comments it’s put me off buying for the moment. Hopefully this is not the way they are going with all their games as I’m really looking forward to WWE 2K18 this year.

    Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 12:42.
  9. Sitorimon
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    Stick by the review score – a review is an opinion and that should not change from any assumed pressure from any other party. You have the right to have that opinion, as much as the game has the right to add in micro-transactions. However, the only way perverse behaviour can be challenged is by adding your voice to the noise and then voting with your wallets. Otherwise, they will continue to push this business model – its a business after all.

    Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 19:44.
  10. clark89
    Member
    Since: Sep 2017

    pushing Micro transactions in 60$ is bad any day.to all people who defended MT saying you can ignore look how things turn now they are pushing people to either grind or pay mo money. whats sad is other site reviews barely mentioned this issue they simply threw in 9s and 8s. people need to send strong message to companies which include MT in full priced games, as if content is not cut off to sell as dlc is enough.
    this is becoming habit for every major company.people keep ignoring and next couple years all you will see is MT even after you pay for gold. silver, or bronze editions[oh wait we already have it shadow of war]

    Comment posted on 24/09/2017 at 12:22.

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