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Monday Tip-Off: The Reddit Post That Tried to Warn Us

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 some reflections on a Reddit post that tried to warn us about some looming issues with the direction of the NBA 2K series.

There’s a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned and linked to in quite a few articles since it was made in the official NBA 2K subreddit back in 2018. That post was titled “The ‘MMO-ification’ of NBA2K and the perils of ignoring player retention: Thoughts from a former MMO developer“, and it was very well-received. After all, this wasn’t just a random gamer speaking out in frustration, or even a prominent content creator or pundit. This was someone who worked in video game development, and saw first-hand how certain approaches affected both gamer enjoyment, and a game’s success.

The criticisms this former EVE Online developer made were astute, and they were on the money about it only being the beginning. Their post touched on matters that many reviewers, and even content creators and community leaders, tend to ignore. It spoke about design philosophies – matters beyond tech and specific game features – that were responsible for problems in the games, and painted a worrying picture for the future. Today, I’m revisiting that Reddit post, and picking out some relevant quotes that identify problems that were troubling in NBA 2K18, and have remained so in its successors. As you’ll see, the insights of that Reddit post were almost prophetic.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who’s To Blame?

Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who's To Blame?

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 some thoughts on who’s to blame for The Rec being utter garbage in NBA 2K21, and how – or if – the problems can be fixed.

I have to blunt: The Rec is absolutely woeful this year. Walk-On play has always been a hit-and-miss alternative to team Pro-Am, owing to the all the issues that arise when you play with randoms. It’s been particularly toxic and unenjoyable in NBA 2K21, though. Admittedly, I can only speak to my experiences playing on the Australasian server, and I’ve yet to create a MyPLAYER on Next Gen and jump online. The scene may be a lot better on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, at least in North America. It’d be a low bar to clear, as the mode seems to have hit rock bottom.

While the issues are familiar, the continued decline of The Rec – and it’s felt like it’s grown even worse since NBA 2K21 Current Gen’s launch – raises a few questions. The two most pertinent are “who’s to blame”, and “how can it be fixed”. As you might imagine, the first issue has a significant impact on the second. The answer is quite complicated, and that naturally means the solution isn’t easy either. Still, I’ve been thinking about this a lot in recent weeks. While I am taking a moment to grumble here, I want to turn that into something constructive. If we as a community can identify these issues and suggest solutions, perhaps we can help improve the scene.

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NLSC Podcast #348: Growing Older All The Time

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Episode #348 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Patch 1.05 is the fourth update for NBA 2K21 Current Gen since it was released, leading us to reflect on the game’s post-release support, and a major issue that still hasn’t been fixed. In NBA 2K21 Next Gen news, this week we learned about The City in MyCAREER, and the revamped franchise experience in MyNBA. The City brings to mind certain lyrics from Goldfinger’s “Superman” as far as our reactions to it, but we like what we hear when it comes to the replacement for MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and MyLEAGUE Online. That leads us to touch upon the impact of former community members now working at Visual Concepts, and some of the troubling attitudes towards them. Finally, the mailbag is back! We answer a couple of questions about the state of NBA Live, and the need for dedicated Community Managers.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA 2K Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for.

Last week, I discussed five things that NBA Live doesn’t get enough credit for. As I mentioned, I’d planned similar articles for NBA 2K and NBA Jam, and this week it’s 2K’s turn. It may seem odd to suggest that NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for things given its current position as the brand leader when it comes to sim basketball games, not to mention its record sales and recurrent revenue figures. True, various issues with quality and a lack of goodwill have contributed to some low user scores on Metacritic in recent years, but it still receives a lot of acclaim.

Nevertheless, there are things NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for, despite its popularity and positive professional reviews. For those of us who have been playing the games for years, it is easy to get jaded by legacy issues, though as I alluded to, there have also been practices in recent titles that understandably draw focus away from the good parts. We’re well within our rights to criticise those aspects, just as we critique NBA Live and any other games, but it’s only fair that we recognise the great things as well. After all, some of them don’t get the credit they deserve, and to that end, here are five things in NBA 2K that are due some recognition and appreciation.

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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

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 some thoughts on skill-based matchmaking.

Did you know that the concept of skill-based matchmaking, commonly abbreviated to SBMM, is controversial? I’ll admit that I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; especially given my experiences playing NBA 2K online. As the name implies, skill-based matchmaking is a system for matching both teammates and opponents in online play according to their abilities. The criteria and algorithms for this vary from game to game, but are generally based on winning percentage, ranking or reputation systems, and other statistics relevant to the genre.

Sounds like a good idea, right; the kind of proper matchmaking that we’d expect to see in a basketball game like NBA 2K, with all of its connected experiences? Well, you would think so, but not everyone is a fan of skill-based matchmaking. This disdain stretches beyond NBA 2K and the basketball gaming community, but the basic reasoning behind gamers’ objections to the concept remains the same. Frankly, this is unfortunate. SBMM is indeed a good idea, and would undoubtedly clean up the online scene in NBA 2K by reducing the toxicity and sense of gatekeeping. I’d like to explore why it’s necessary, and also examine the controversy surrounding SBMM.

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The Friday Five: 5 Community Issues NBA 2K21 Has Spotlighted

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a look at five issues within the basketball gaming community that NBA 2K21 has spotlighted.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen has been out for about a month, and following its release, gamers have had a lot to say about it. The game has had a mixed reception to say the least, and some of the new concepts haven’t resonated as positively as the developers no doubt hoped they would. A big patch came through on September 14th, which does seem to have allayed some concerns with the game. No release is ever perfect though, and not all issues can be caught before the game is in our hands, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting developers with several obstacles.

Gamers have been noting the issues with NBA 2K21 and sharing feedback with the developers accordingly, but I’ve noticed something else in the wake of the game being released. It seems as though NBA 2K21 has also spotlighted some issues within the community itself, both in the way we approach the games and how we interact with each other. These community issues aren’t necessarily new, and in some cases they’re the result of toxicity that’s compounded over the years. At the same time, I do feel as though certain aspects of NBA 2K21 have shone a light on some of these community issues, and I honestly feel that we could (and should) be doing better in these areas.

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Monday Tip-Off: Is NBA 2K Pay-To-Win or Not?

Monday Tip-Off: Is NBA 2K Pay-To-Win or Not?

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 by pondering the question of whether or not NBA 2K can fairly be called pay-to-win.

Yes, discussing VC, microtransactions, and recurrent revenue mechanics in NBA 2K might seem like I’m beating a dead horse. However, it remains a persistent issue as of NBA 2K21, one that threatens the overall quality of the game. That might seem like I’m stating the obvious and preaching to the choir, but there are gamers who will still defend grindy mechanics and microtransactions. In all fairness, they admittedly aren’t mandatory, and the savvy NBA 2K gamer can find ways of enjoying the game’s most popular modes without buying VC, or even opting for the special edition.

Based on some remarks I’ve seen on basketball gaming Twitter though, I fear that we’ve grown somewhat complacent and dismissive of the problems that recurrent revenue mechanics cause. People, including prominent content creators, have declared that modes like MyTEAM and MyCAREER are no longer pay-to-win, owing to the amount of content that can be earned even if you staunchly refuse to buy VC. I do see their point of course, but I also believe that it’s missing the forest for the trees. There’s nuance and other problems that are being overlooked. First things first, though. Let’s address the question: is it fair to call NBA 2K, in its current state, pay-to-win?

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Online Is A Mess

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five outlines five reasons that the online scene in NBA 2K is a mess.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed problems with the online experience in NBA 2K, and while I’d prefer not to harp on issues or be repetitive in my content, it’s also important to point out problems. This is particularly important when certain issues remain unresolved for several years running, leading to increased frustration for everyone, and an aspect of basketball gaming that isn’t nearly as good as it could and should be. Having spent more time playing NBA 2K online recent years, I’ve grown dismayed and disenchanted with the experience due to several recurring problems.

Frankly, NBA 2K online is a mess. It’s kind of bewildering, actually. With the launch of the NBA 2K League, the online scene is obviously being pushed as a big part of the game, and yet it’s never been weaker or less inviting. That’s not to say that it can’t be any fun at all. I won’t pretend that I haven’t had enjoyable sessions here and there, or that NBA 2K online doesn’t have anything to offer; at least on paper. The good news is that there are solutions that would clean up the mess that is online play in NBA 2K. The bad news is that many of the problems are persistent legacy issues, so it remains to be seen if they’ll ever be properly addressed in future games.

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Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is…FUN?!?

Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is...FUN?!?

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 some thoughts on how 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 has been…dare I say it…fun.

I’ve been critical of the lack of proper matchmaking and new restrictions on 5v5 Pro-Am since the latter was introduced in NBA 2K19. Last week, I noted that it took all three of our teammates quitting for Kenny and I to have one of the best games we’ve ever had in The Rec. I’m on record declaring that NBA 2K’s online experience is in really rough shape, regardless of its general popularity and engagement numbers. Despite some fun games here and there, I stand by that as being the case on the whole. There are many improvements that could be made to online play in NBA 2K.

However, I have found an online mode in NBA 2K20 that has been fun more often than not. So fun in fact, I’ve titled this article like a clickbait YouTube video. The NLSC squad hasn’t had a 5v5 Pro-Am game this year as we haven’t had the numbers, but on a few occasions we have been able to get three of us together. Normally in that situation we’d head to The Rec, where it’s a little easier to control things when you account for more than half of the team, or maybe The Playground, but not so much this year. Instead, we’ve given 3v3 Pro-Am a try, and I’d have to say that it may be the most consistently fun online mode in NBA 2K20.

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Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn ‘Bout a Bad MyREP System

Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn 'Bout a Bad MyREP System

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 some thoughts on the importance of fixing MyREP, not just in terms of its rewards system, but also allowing it to carry over year-to-year.

Keeping an annually-released basketball game fresh in a way that satisfies its toughest critics – the hardcore hoops gamers – is easier said than done. Take a ranking and rewards system such as MyREP, for example. If it’s the same year after year, we’re prone to complain about it being too stale and familiar. If it changes, there’s bound to be a lot of people who preferred the old system, as well as those that were open to a change, but aren’t feeling the new approach. There’s also the issue of having to start over from scratch every year; a common complaint in general these days.

I want to talk about both of those issues related to MyREP: its use as both a reward and matchmaking system, and the concept of being able to carry over rep from the previous game. It’s something I’d like to see NBA 2K get right as we enter a new generation with online basketball gaming as popular as it’s ever been, yet also in rough shape. Because of its effects on features and the online experience, it’s more than a cosmetic badge. We have good reason to give a damn about a bad MyREP system. Yes, that is a reference to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and indeed, I’m keeping the musical motif going as I wax lyrical about this matter.

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NLSC Podcast #327: Gonna Make You Sweat

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Episode #327 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The PlayStation 5 reveal event brought us an Announcement Trailer for NBA 2K21, which gives us plenty to talk about this week! We recap and react to the trailer featuring Zion Williamson, and a whole lot of sweat. In addition to highlighting the parts that appealed to us, we also discuss our concerns, along with the expectations it’s given us for next gen. We also speculate whether the PC version of NBA 2K21 will be a next gen port, or last gen as was the case with NBA 2K14. The trustworthiness of developer blogs and preview media is another issue we’re going to be mindful of this preview season, as we reflect on past controversies. We also consider the impact of next gen NBA 2K21 on the future of NBA Live, and what we can expect from last gen NBA 2K moving forward.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We’ll Never Have

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We'll Never Have

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 some thoughts on the online experience I’d love to see in NBA 2K, but we’re highly unlikely to ever have.

Aside from some admittedly fun sessions of 3v3 Pro-Am and jumping into The Rec after spinning double MyREP on the Prize Wheel, I’ve not been playing online in NBA 2K20. I’d been dabbling with a session or two in The Rec every so often, but in order to finally let MyCAREER go, I’ve focused on finishing my rookie season and generally avoided taking part in any of the connected experiences. Thanks to so many hit-or-miss sessions, I no longer have the same enthusiasm for the online experience that I once did. It’s made it much easier to abstain from those modes.

Even the satisfying runs in 3v3 Pro-Am had their annoyances. Despite playing well and even winning eight games in a single session, I somehow dropped from 99.9 to 99.4 Overall, spotlighting some of the major flaws with the MyREP and Overall Rating systems in NBA 2K20. Of course, the tendency to punish rather than reward is just one of the problems with the online experience in NBA 2K. It’s unfortunate, as online play in NBA 2K should be so much better than it is. From issues with lag and matchmaking to meta-gaming and what it takes to get there, I can’t help thinking about the online experience that NBA 2K should offer, but we’re unlikely to see.

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Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

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 few thoughts on how Visual Concepts is unlikely to return to the old style of MyCAREER, axing both The Neighborhood and stories in future NBA 2K releases.

There’s a rather poignant analogy in Fallout 3, courtesy of Moira Brown. Discussing the post-apocalyptic world and her pet project (and the Lone Wanderer’s quest) of compiling the Wasteland Survival Guide, she compares the situation to putting broken glass back together. She notes that it’ll never be whole in the same way it used to be, but you can use the pieces to make something else, like a mosaic. As an analogy, it’s a good way of describing the inability to go back to the way things used to be, but still making the best of the situation and building something new.

We can apply this metaphor to two concepts in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER: the story-driven approach, and the game world of The Neighborhood. At this point they’re established staples of MyCAREER, but they aren’t universally liked. That’s not unusual, of course; you can’t please everyone in everything that you do. However, those two concepts do present some recurring problems, and frustration with them has been building since they were introduced. It seems that a lot of gamers would prefer MyCAREER to return to the way it used to be, but again, axing those features seems highly unlikely. Calling back to Moira Brown’s analogy, has the glass been broken?

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NLSC Podcast #308: When You Wish Upon A Dev

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Episode #308 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and I as we discuss the latest patch for NBA 2K20, and run down our wishlists for NBA 2K21.

A new patch has come through for NBA 2K20 this week, and it’s brought some welcome updates and changes. The nerfing of a cheesy move has naturally proven to be controversial, leading us to reflect on attitudes towards exploits and how 2K should respond to any backlash. We also touch on some recent controversies with VC exploits, and how 2K chose to handle the situation. From there, we dive into this week’s main topic: our NBA 2K21 wishlists. It’s Wishlist Season, and we’ve got plenty to say about what we want to see in this year’s game. From motion systems and balance to roster accuracy and matchmaking, we break down our desired improvements and additions.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the latest NBA 2K20 patch? What’s on your NBA 2K21 Wishlist? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 few thoughts about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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