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 a look at how both the Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold versions of NBA 2K18 are still available in the PlayStation Store.
I have to say that thus far, I’ve been impressed with the PlayStation 5. I’ve generally been enjoying my time with NBA 2K21 Next Gen, and I love the faster loading times. In particular though, I’ve been impressed with its backwards compatibility with PS4, especially when it comes to my games library and saved content. As I noted in a Wayback Wednesday article, copying saved data across for PS4 games is a snap. I was also very pleased to be able to get a free upgrade for Mortal Kombat 11, complete with all of the DLC I’d purchased, just by inserting the PlayStation 4 disc.
The access to the PS4 library – on top of various media apps being readily compatible with PS5 – has made the console feel like a worthwhile upgrade, even if there aren’t a lot of new games that I’m interested in right now. While browsing the PlayStation Store, however, I came across another point of interest, albeit a far less positive one. During a search to see if the NBA League Pass app was available on PS5 (it’s not; at least, not in my region), I noticed that the Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold versions of NBA 2K18 are still available to purchase. There are some major issues with that, and the digital availability of older NBA 2K titles in general.
What’s wrong with the Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold versions of NBA 2K18 still being available? For a start, they retail for $137.95 and $209.95 AUD. That’s ridiculous for a three year old game, even the premium special editions. More to the point, it’s too much money to spend on NBA 2K18. Let’s put aside the fact that NBA 2K18 wasn’t a great game, indeed arguably one of the worst of its generation. It wouldn’t matter if it was considered a modern classic, because the Legend Editions of NBA 2K18 simply cannot deliver adequate value for their price in 2020. Why is that, you ask? Because online support for NBA 2K18 ended back in January of this year.
Now, NBA 2K18 doesn’t need the servers to be online to be playable, depending on which modes you’re interested in. Play Now, MyLEAGUE, and a barebones version of MyCAREER are still available to this day. The full version of MyCAREER with the story and Neighborhood, as well as MyTEAM, obviously cannot be played now that the servers are offline. The issue here is that the content provided by the Legend Editions of NBA 2K18 – indeed, the only reason to buy them – all requires an online connection. Those bonuses of extra VC, MyTEAM cards and packs, and apparel for your MyPLAYER, are now inaccessible. To that end, they’re completely worthless.
To 2K’s credit, the store listings do have a note about the servers being shut down on December 31st 2019 (the deadline was actually extended to January 18th 2020), so if you’re looking at them today, there’s fair warning that there aren’t any online services. The problem is that the listed bonus items are identified as digital content, but there’s no explicit warning that they’re no longer available because they require an online connection. Sure, most of us would look at the listings and realise they’re not worth the money, but the fact that the special editions are still available despite the servers being offline is potentially misleading to gamers who are less knowledgeable.
Frankly, that bugs me. I can’t help feeling that it’s intentional, a way to possibly milk collectors for extra money. Look, it’s easy to shrug and say “a fool and their money are easily parted”, as so many people do when gamers are caught out by questionable practices. In this situation at least, ignorance is no crime, and it’s shady when a video game publisher tries to prey on consumer ignorance. I’ll always side with my fellow gamers in those circumstances, which is one of the reasons I’m writing this article. We shouldn’t be so devoid of sympathy and empathy. If I can save just one person some money when they Google “NBA 2K18 Legend Edition Gold”, then it’ll be worth it.
The reason I believe this is shady is because 2K has removed previous editions of NBA 2K from digital platforms as the servers have been shut down. They’ve usually remained available for a while, which is actually handy for collectors who’d like to complete their library, and don’t mind that the online content is no longer available. Of course, the older titles have remained in the store at far too high a price, especially given the fact that they’re no longer fully featured following a server shutdown. NBA 2K17 PC is still available on Steam, which again, is convenient for anyone who still wants to pick it up (say, to check out Dee4Three’s roster). It’s still full-priced, though.
There’s a reason for this, too. Older NBA 2K games seldom drop in price, while the latest game is regularly discounted. This encourages gamers to pick up the latest title – which admittedly, many will want to do anyway – rather than pick up an older one that may have been better received, at a lower price. It also ensures that any collectors who want to complete their library must do so at a premium, thereby milking a few extra dollars out of an older release. This is the major downside of digital distribution. Digital is convenient, but older titles aren’t always discounted, and one day may be gone forever. Physical media can remain in circulation, at a lower price second-hand.
Filling gaps in your collection and retro basketball gaming has therefore grown more difficult over the past decade. Even if the title you need is still available, it’s far more expensive than it should be. The continued sale of the expensive NBA 2K18 Legend Edition Gold in particular is rather shady. It’s one thing to continue selling a game at the recommended retail price when the servers are shut down and large parts of it are no longer available, but to charge extra for content that can no longer be used is very anti-consumer to say the least. As I said, 2K does pull outmoded titles from digital platforms, including the first NBA Playgrounds after they partnered with Saber.
Again, you can say that a fool and their money are easily parted, and yes, we all must take responsibility for our financial decisions. At the same time, it doesn’t excuse shady business practices. The victim of a con may be responsible as far as their ignorance and naivety is concerned, but that doesn’t make the conman blameless, or admirable. Sadly, companies are looking to cash in on our ignorance. Just look at how many people ended up buying the Xbox One X, while trying to pre-order the Xbox Series X or S. Granted, those people needed to do their research, but cynically, I can’t help feeling that such a mistake was anticipated by the use of very similar names.
Ideally, any NBA 2K games that remain on sale after they’re no longer the latest title in the series should be generously discounted; especially after their servers are taken offline. Not only would it be great for collectors, but 2K would be benefiting from a few extra sales from people who skipped a game when it was new and wouldn’t mind checking it out at a lower price point to see what they missed, or are just completing their library. It seems that would be expecting too much, but at least RRP wouldn’t be grossly overcharging. Expensive special editions with unusable content, definitely is.
It’s hard not to sound like I’m searching for things to bash 2K for here, and hey, it may not be a big deal. Perhaps that warning about the servers being taken offline will deter any would-be purchasers. Anyone interested in playing NBA 2K18 probably already has it, or can opt for the Standard Edition. It’ll likely be gone soon, anyway. All the same, it’s an issue that’s worth bringing to light. Both the Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold of NBA 2K18 should’ve been removed when the servers were shut down, rendering their bonuses moot. Leaving them there is potentially very deceptive, and we’ve had enough of questionable practices in NBA 2K over the past few years.