The servers for NBA 2K18 are being shut down later this month on 18th January 2020, cutting players off from game modes that require or lean on online functionality a little over two years after the game’s launch.
— 2K Support (@2KSupport) December 20, 2019
It’s part of an established pattern for the publisher, who shut down NBA 2K17 at the stroke of 2019, and will shut down NBA 2K19 at the end of this year.
Naturally this means no more online ranked play, no more running into other players or getting quick games in 2K18’s Neighbourhood hub area, and so on. However this goes far beyond whether you can play online, thank to how Virtual Currency (VC) is tied into many areas of the game. Used across MyCareer, MyTeam and beyond, you need VC to level up your player’s stats, to buy cosmetics, to purchase player packs, etc. etc.
You can play MyCareer and MyGM offline, but if you have a save file that was created while online, you will no longer have access to that save.
This is outlined in a 2K support page:
Accordingly, any mode in NBA 2K18 that earns or uses VC will be affected, along with any other online function (such as the MyTEAM mode and online matches against other players). However, you can still play offline quick games, as well as the MyGM and MyCAREER modes offline. This will let you earn SP rather than VC.
If you created a MyCAREER or MyGM online save file before this, the server shutdown means the data will no longer be available for use and you’ll have to start a new game in those modes.
A quick glance at the NBA 2K subreddit, and it’s pretty clear that a lot of people disliked NBA 2K18. We didn’t like it much either, saying in our controversy stricken review: “The grind isn’t fun and paying gives advantages over those who won’t or can’t afford to. You absolutely cannot ignore how NBA 2K18 is a full price game that also integrates the business model of a free to play/pay to win title and the way that the enjoyment you get from it suffers because of it.”
Ah, such fun memories.