You may as well smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, according to a breathtaking new ad for NBA 2K20’s increasingly casino-like MyTeam feature released today.
Pachinko? They’ve got it, just look at the fun 2K YouTubers like Cash Nasty are having with it! The slots are loose, and you just have to cup your hands and start scooping the hall of famers off the floor. Go on, give that wheel a spin, find out what’s in the box. And be sure to notice timed MyTEAM events like Token Mania! There’s some basketball in there too, maybe.
Loot boxes and “pay to win” elements provoke an increasingly hostile reaction from players, and their unpopularity and profitability have brought the games industry under greater scrutiny from regulatory bodies around the world. But rather than reduce their flagship sports franchise’s reliance on these types of “gacha game” elements, 2K Games have apparently opted to get while the getting is good. First, the publishery added an in-game casino to GTA Online, where you can use real-money to acquire and gamble in-game currency, and now NBA 2K20, the latest edition of the most popular licensed NBA game in the world, has a new version of its MyTEAM mode that looks like a walk down the old Atlantic City boardwalk.
While EA is at least trying to reduce the salience of loot box mechanics across its games, 2K is all-in on building a casino where a premier sports sim once stood.
The entire thing is crass and the trailer has a hokey quality that feels a bit like the sizzle reel of a basic cable infomercial. But it also feels like 2K made a calculation that this entire business model is probably not long for this world, and it’s time to cash-in before this all gets shut down. It’s kind of amazing because it’s the exact opposite of the approach taken by EA recently, who seem like they’ve been trying to downplay gacha mechanics in order to mollify increasingly annoyed audiences and—more importantly—to reduce the attention on the issue so that politicians might leave it alone.
Of course, being this brazen with a franchise this globally popular only increases the odds of killing Golden Gacha Goose, but that is a problem for the future. If you suspect regulation is an inevitable outcome regardless of how you try and reform the economies of in-game markets and games of chance, then now is the time to pull out all the stops. If the table is about to become evidence in a case against your industry, you might as well take all the money off of it