We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on how there’s a ticking clock on the relevance of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, and indeed, the generation as a whole.
Last Thursday, I managed to secure a pre-order for a PlayStation 5, specifically the run that will be released in Australia circa December 8th. This means although I’ve missed out on the launch, it won’t be nearly as long a wait as I’d anticipated. It also means that I’m starting to get more excited about and interested in NBA 2K21 Next Gen. When it appeared as though I might not be able to actually play it until 2021, it was naturally difficult to get hyped. Now I can actually look forward to checking it out – and producing content for it – in the not too distant future.
Of course, this places the Current Gen version in limbo, a situation that most gamers predicted would happen. The PC version has the benefit of the modding community, but generally speaking, any excitement that surrounded the Current Gen release has given way to hype for Next Gen. Now that I’ll be able to play that version as well, I’m left wondering what to do with NBA 2K21 Current Gen for the next few weeks. I’ve also been wondering about the future of basketball gaming on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I’m optimistic that the PC will receive a Next Gen port as early as NBA 2K22, but the clock has to be ticking on the current generation of consoles.
For me, the first order of business is to decide how I’ll be playing NBA 2K21 Current Gen until my PlayStation 5 arrives, and I presumably make the switch to Next Gen. It seems pointless to sink too much time into MyCAREER, as none of the progress will carry over onto PlayStation 5. Then again, I’ve mostly been playing The Rec so far, and my player is already at a point where they’re viable for online play, so I would be able to continue doing that without making much more of a commitment to grinding. I haven’t actually played through the story yet – on PC or PlayStation 4 – so I may end up doing that, if only so that I’m able to talk about it in more detail moving forward.
There’s little point starting a MyLEAGUE with outdated rosters; I’d be much better off waiting to start a MyNBA game in NBA 2K21 Next Gen, closer to the start of the real NBA season. The most sensible thing to do would be to dedicate more time to MyTEAM, since progress there will actually carry over to the PS5. Nothing that I do in MyTEAM will be lost, meaning there won’t be the dread of having to start over (and only a few months after the annual fresh start, no less). At the same time, that content won’t be going anywhere. It’ll be waiting for me on Next Gen, whereas I assume I’ll basically be putting Current Gen MyCAREER aside come December.
Then again, with NBA 2K21 Current Gen having a ticking clock that’s already inching closer to the final countdown, it’s hard to remain enthusiastic about it at all. It doesn’t help that I’ve been underwhelmed by the game so far, making it far easier to put aside. Even with the prospect of making further progress in MyTEAM and having it carry over to Next Gen, I’m not opposed to just running out the clock and waiting for a fresh experience in a few weeks. To that end, I’m tossing up whether it would be better to take a break and have my first taste of Next Gen with a cleansed palate, or continue playing Current Gen so that it’s fresher in mind to make comparisons.
And then, of course, there’s the PC version, which is a Current Gen port. I would assume that our modding community will continue to support it, much in the way that NBA 2K14 PC continued to thrive in the wake of the PS4 and X1 launch. As for my personal gaming habits, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Having double-dipped with the PC and PS4 version again this year, I’ve been making an effort to spend time with both, gravitating towards MyCAREER and the connected experiences on console, while sticking to MyTEAM on PC. I had toyed with the idea of a concept roster mod, but it’s a lot of time and effort for a game I’m not too fond of, and will likely leave behind.
Looking back, I faced a similar dilemma when I bought a PlayStation 4 at launch, after picking up the PC version of NBA 2K14 a month or so earlier. Ironically, I ended up shunning the game for the most part, feeling dissatisfied with it on both platforms. Needless to say, I’m hoping for a different outcome this time. NBA 2K21 Current Gen is playable, but I haven’t taken to it enthusiastically, and it’s not a game that I’d recommend; certainly not at the full price, anyway. I’m hoping that Next Gen will feel like an improvement, and capture my attention for the next year. Considering it won’t be as barebones as NBA 2K14 on PS4/X1 was, I’m cautiously optimistic.
In the meantime, I imagine I’ll continue busying myself with this and that in NBA 2K21 Current Gen, but what about the ticking clock on the generation as a whole? I don’t expect the eighth generation consoles to be abandoned immediately, as they’ll probably continue to receive ports of major releases for at least a few years yet. I do wonder what will happen with basketball gaming, though. I can’t imagine we’ll ever see another new NBA Live release on PS4 and X1 – if the series is poised to make a comeback, it’ll be on Next Gen – and I’m not sure that 2K will keep supporting the previous generation for as long as they did the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
After all, when it comes to production values and post-release content, expectations are much higher for PS4 and X1 than they were for PS3 and 360. Would 2K really want to put the time and effort into creating a new Neighborhood, MyCAREER story, and MyTEAM content for Current Gen, at the same time they’re trying to innovate with The City and other aspects on Next Gen? The bar has been set too high to simply keep producing glorified roster updates for PS4 and X1, as they basically did with the previous generation. As the userbase on Current Gen migrates to Next Gen, it simply won’t be worth the time, money, and effort to cater to the older platforms as needed.
I just can’t see 2K doing that for another four years, as they did with PS3 and 360 when those consoles continued to receive new releases through to NBA 2K18. With that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me if Current Gen only sees one or two more NBA 2K games before they pull the plug on the generation. Of course, this raises another question about MyTEAM. If NBA 2K21 isn’t the last Current Gen release, will our MyTEAM progression and VC wallets continued to be shared between the two generations as long as the PS4 and X1 are still receiving new releases? One would certainly hope so, yet it wouldn’t be altogether surprising if that was a one-time thing.
Mind you, if MyTEAM progression continues to be cross-platform as long as Current Gen is still receiving new releases, then I have to believe it’s even more likely that that will end after another year or two. We can only speculate as to what plans 2K has for MyTEAM moving forward, but I doubt they want to be held back by the need to ensure that whatever they do on Next Gen, it’s compatible with the prior gen version of the mode. Once again, I’m optimistic that the PC will receive a Next Gen port as soon as NBA 2K22, but the more I think about it, the more likely it seems that there’s a ticking clock on the PS4 and X1 continuing to receive new NBA 2K games.
Either way, I expect that I’ll continue to double-dip on PC and console, though until and unless I find the PS4 version on sale, I’ll overcome my collector’s mentality to triple-dip. Of course, it will be interesting to see what happens with NBA 2K on Current Gen, however long it continues. As for NBA 2K21, now that Next Gen is upon us and I’ll have the opportunity to play it in a matter of just a few weeks, I’ll just make the most of the PC and PS4 versions as the clock continues to tick down. The tip-off of a new season later in December hopefully will spark interest where Current Gen did not. One way or another, the clock is ticking, and we’re dribbling it out.