2K have decided to add unskippable adverts to NBA 2K21’s pre-game loading screens across PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This addition comes around a month and a half after the game’s initial release and well after the review window for the game.
You can see this, as captured by Stevivor over the weekend:
The advert is triggered by the pre-game loading screen, and is inserted into the game’s take on a pre-game TV broadcast. While authentic to US sports programming, it cannot be skipped and runs in full before players can press a button to continue. What isn’t entirely clear is if the loading screen is lengthened to accommodate the advert, though Stevivor reported that it still played in full when testing this on an SSD-equipped PC.
It comes just a month after EA pulled a similar move in UFC 4, inserting adverts into the transitions around replays, before removing them after backlash from players.
It also adds to the criticism of 2K’s efforts to monetise their dominant sports franchise beyond the initial sticker price. NBA 2K has long had microtransactions that have gone beyond cosmetics and can tie into the player and character progression across all modes through the overarching Virtual Currency. Some years strike a decent balance between earning VC though play and pay, and others fail to do so.
2K were also the first to announce a price hike for their game series while heading to the next generation, and decided not to offer players an upgrade path from the current generation, paid or otherwise. Instead, the only way to get the next-gen upgrade included with your current-gen game was to buy the Mamba Forever edition at £84.99. It should be acknowledged that the next-gen version has been rebuilt from the ground up and offers significant changes to the game’s visuals, animation, presentation, and more. 2K might have to work a little bit harder to integrate adverts when loading screens will be so much shorter, though.
NBA 2K21 is out now for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC and Stadia. It’s coming to Xbox Series X|S on 10th November, and PlayStation 5 on 12th or 19th November depending on your region.