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The Friday Five: 5 Excuses We Must Stop Making For Games

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 excuses that we must stop making in order to downplay valid criticisms of basketball video games.

There are times when it’s only fair to make excuses for basketball video games. There are limitations to what can be achieved with the technology that’s currently available. Issues with likeness rights meant that certain historical players can’t be included. NBA games have a brutal development cycle compared to titles that don’t come out every year. In fact, you might be inclined to call these “reasons”, as the term “excuses” often has negative connotations. It’s splitting hairs on the definition in some respects, but it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea of “making excuses”.

The problem with excuses is that they can easily work against our best interests. If we don’t hold developers accountable for certain decisions and design choices, then we’ll have no choice but to endure whatever undesirable situation we find ourselves in with basketball video games. Look, I’d like to think that I’m as passionate about the hobby as anyone else in the community, and I also believe in being fair and constructive in our criticism. It’s just astonishing how far some people will go to make excuses for the games though, even when an issue is clearly detrimental to them. These are the excuses that we need to cut out, or else we’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

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NLSC Podcast #294: Microtransactions, Mega Profits

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Episode #294 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week Arcane and I cover all of the latest previews for NBA 2K20, along with record-setting numbers for NBA 2K19, and the latest word on NBA Live 20.

A statement from Andrew Wilson has reiterated that NBA Live 20 is coming. Free-to-play has neither been denied nor confirmed, which along with talk of a “different approach”, has us feeling a little concerned. We also wonder what a free-to-play NBA Live 20 would look like. As for NBA 2K20, we have a better idea of what it will look and play like thanks to this year’s gameplay blog, as well as Tweets from Beluba. There are some very promising details, but we have been burned before. News on the WNBA’s presence in NBA 2K20 emphasises the gap between NBA 2K and NBA Live, which leads to a discussion on the matter of who did it first vs. who did it best. Finally, record-setting numbers for NBA 2K19’s sales and recurrent revenue are something Take Two has to be very pleased with, but it speaks volumes about the attitude and resolve of the basketball gaming community.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the latest NBA 2K20 developer blogs, increases in recurrent revenue, and the situation with NBA Live? 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.

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Monday Tip-Off: Should NBA Live Be More Like NBA 2K?

James Harden shoots in NBA Live 19

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 an interesting and important question that continues to be hotly debated: should NBA Live be more like NBA 2K?

As NBA Live continues to rebuild and re-establish itself in the face of NBA 2K’s dominance, there is a debate among basketball gamers as to the best direction for the game. There are gamers who would prefer that NBA Live remains distinctly different to NBA 2K in focus, style, and approach, and generally reject any suggestions that Live should borrow ideas from 2K. Conversely, as noted here on Reddit, there are others who would prefer that NBA Live essentially copy NBA 2K, but for a few details here and there (such as avoiding 2K’s approach to microtransactions).

Naturally, between those two extremes are more nuanced suggestions about NBA Live doing its own thing, while also borrowing some of NBA 2K’s best ideas (and in some cases, putting its own spin on them). To that end, of course, there’s still debate as to which ideas should be borrowed, how closely NBA Live should mimic what NBA 2K is doing, and to what extent any 2K concepts should be reworked. It leaves us with the question of whether or not NBA Live should be more like NBA 2K, or as the thread over on Reddit put it, “NBA 2K re-skinned” rather than NBA Live. For me, the answer is yes…and no.

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Monday Tip-Off: We’re Part of The Problem

The Playground in NBA 2K19

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 we gamers are part of the problem when it comes to recent issues with NBA 2K19.

I try my best not to be repetitive in the topics I choose for my weekly features. Unless I’m producing a series centred on a certain theme or topic, I try to space out similar features and even alternate between games wherever possible. I also want to be as fair-handed as possible, and not resort to bashing for the sake of outrage clicks. With that being said however, although I’ve discussed issues with online modes and play in the last couple of Monday Tip-Off articles, recent events in NBA 2K19 have made it impossible not to touch on them once again this week.

Where to begin? An influx of new gamers from a recent sale has been blamed for persistent problems in MyTEAM’s Auction House, an issue that remains unresolved. The appearance of an unskippable ad has naturally raised the ire of many gamers, both for its inconvenience and inappropriateness in an E-rated game. This is all on top of the continued dissatisfaction with the game’s heavy focus upon microtransactions and gambling-like mechanics. Those issues all deserve scorn, but as I prepared to talk about them and criticise NBA 2K’s handling of the situation once again, a nagging thought came to mind: like it or not, we’re part of the problem.

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Monday Tip-Off: Putting the 2K in NBA 2K Playgrounds 2

Victory in NBA 2K Playgrounds 2

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 partnering with 2K has impacted the NBA Playgrounds series, both positively and negatively.

Since its release last October, our coverage of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has been fairly light. I must admit to missing a few bulletins regarding official patches, something I’ve tried to remedy recently. One of the main reasons that our coverage has been so lax is that our community hasn’t really taken to the game. There was some support of the first NBA Playgrounds a couple of years ago, especially when we heard that it would be available for PC as well as consoles, but since then, there hasn’t been much enthusiasm around these parts. The lack of modding probably doesn’t help.

It’s unfortunate, as NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has made some pleasing improvements on its predecessor. It has its shortcomings, but overall, it’s a very solid arcade basketball game. The partnership between Saber Interactive and 2K has helped the game attain a higher profile, and also facilitated new content and features that are most welcome. At the same time, however, there have been some changes that definitely feel as though they’ve been influenced by the larger company. These changes incorporate some of the worst parts of recent NBA 2K titles, and are thus disappointing to see. Let’s go over some of the best and worst aspects of NBA Playgrounds joining the 2K family.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #278

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Episode #278 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join me for a look back at the updates that came through for NBA Live 19, NBA 2K19, and NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 this week, as well as a couple of other basketball gaming topics.

On this week’s show…

  • New rosters have come through for NBA Live 19, featuring further lineup, gear, and ratings updates. We also have some clarification on the situation with Kawhi Leonard’s shoes.
  • In celebration of LeBron James passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list, we have another shot at a Pink Diamond LeBron in NBA 2K19’s MyTEAM. March Madness packs have also been added, while the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers are featured in the latest throwback packs.
  • The latest patch for NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has added new content including players, vanity items, and a Safe Schools for Alex Playground, as well as a new Court Editor. Unfortunately, the approach to the Court Editor doesn’t match the goodwill of their charitable endeavours.
  • Experiments with MyCAREER have yielded some interesting information about the popular mode. More to come in next week’s Monday Tip-Off!
  • Episode #278 of the NLSC Podcast wraps up with a listener question regarding celebrity teams, and the likelihood of celebrities being featured in future versions of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas NBA 2K Should Borrow from NBA Live

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 discusses five ideas that NBA 2K should borrow from NBA Live.

The time has come to compile and finalise our Wishlist for NBA 2K20, and send it off to the development team at Visual Concepts as soon as possible. While NBA 2K is currently a very deep and successful NBA sim, I would suggest that most basketball gamers would agree that there’s still room for improvement. This includes polishing up existing features and addressing some gameplay concerns, but as far as changing concepts and approaches, or implementing new features, I do believe that NBA Live has some ideas that NBA 2K could borrow.

A lot of people may scoff at that and dismiss the notion out of hand. After all, when you’re the premier product, you lead; you don’t follow. However, even though NBA 2K is undisputedly the brand leader and NBA Live continues to rebuild after many rough years, EA Sports’ long-running hoops title has featured some really good ideas, even as it’s struggled to make a dent in NBA 2K’s sales. Great as it is, there are some aspects of NBA 2K that feel dated or problematic, and some of the solutions may lie in NBA Live’s approach to those features. 2K has borrowed from NBA Live before – right stick dribbling being a prime example – and it could stand to do so again.

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Monday Tip-Off: Hitting 90 Overall in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER

Trophy for reaching 90 Overall in MyCAREER (NBA 2K19)

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 reflections on hitting 90 Overall in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, without spending any money on VC.

The Road to 99 in MyCAREER is a journey that can be incredibly tedious. It’s hardly a stunning revelation that this is by design, a method of encouraging gamers to pay for VC in order to skip the long grind. As much as I dislike the practice, my desire to play online with my friends in the NLSC’s 2K Pro-Am squad has seen me resort to buying VC in previous games in order to sufficiently boost my attributes on Day 1. I decided that after last year’s unashamed money grab, I would avoid buying any VC in NBA 2K19. Instead, I’d try to grind up my player the long way.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I finally hit 90 Overall. Although it felt like a long road with a lot of grinding, it did actually happen a little quicker than I had first anticipated. Nevertheless, it was tremendously satisfying, and proof that it can be done within the first few months of owning the game (albeit with some good luck). As I consider how much further I’ll travel down the Road to 99, I thought that I’d reflect on the journey so far, as well as some of the strategies that I found useful along the way. If you’re still striving to hit 90 Overall or better and are determined not to spend any money on VC, hopefully I can offer up some encouragement and helpful pointers.

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Pink Diamonds Aren’t Forever: 2K’s Latest PR Blunder

Redeeming Locker Code for Pink Diamond LeBron James (NBA 2K19 MyTEAM)

It’s the holidays; I shouldn’t be writing a negative or critical article. As we wind down 2018, I wanted to focus on having fun with basketball video games, reflect on the year that was, and then get back to critique and heavier topics in the New Year. Sadly, we have a controversy on our hands. In case you missed the drama, a Locker Code for a Pink Diamond LeBron James got out into the wild on Christmas Day. Naturally, a lot of MyTEAM gamers were quick to snap it up, bolstering their collection with a card that most of us probably wouldn’t ever get our hands on otherwise. It was, if you’ll excuse my tongue-in-cheek usage of a clichéd phrase, a Christmas miracle.

And then, 2K went Ebenezer Scrooge on MyTEAM gamers. After the code had been in the wild for several hours, its reward changed to a LeBron James Free Agent card. The worst was yet to come however, as gamers discovered that the original card had been removed from their collection entirely. Some logged on to discover it was gone, while the more unlucky gamers had it stripped from their lineup as they were using it, resulting in wins counting as losses and other rewards going missing. It would seem that the Pink Diamond wasn’t meant to be released, but its removal has led to another PR blunder for 2K Sports, when they could’ve spread some Christmas cheer.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Managing & Earning VC in MyCAREER

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 offers five tips for earning and managing VC in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER.

Fighting the urge to buy VC to level up faster in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER? You’re not alone, as the game is designed to push you in the direction of microtransactions. Since the situation is unlikely to get better anytime soon, I’ve decided that it would be more productive to focus on some content that helps gamers rather than critiques 2K’s design choices. After all, while microtransactions are strongly encouraged, VC can indeed be gained without spending real money. With that in mind, I’ve devised five tips that I hope will be useful for both earning and managing VC.

Before I get to the tips, I should emphasise that it’s still going to be a long process. As the push for recurrent revenue is quite aggressive, the grind is very real. Perseverance will pay off, however. Aside from the pre-order bonus for the standard edition, I’ve not spent any VC that I didn’t earn in-game, and as of this writing, I’m sitting at 74 Overall (starting from the base rating of 60). I did skip The Prelude for this player, though as a bonus tip, I would suggest that you play through it in order to get a head start on upgrades and Badges, as well as an opportunity for a higher salary out of the gate. With that being said, let’s take a look at some strategies for VC budgeting!

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Positives and Negatives in NBA 2K19

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 another double countdown, this time featuring the Top 5 Positives and Top 5 Negatives in NBA 2K19.

My full reviews for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 will be out shortly, but before then, I wanted to offer up some more of my initial impressions of this year’s games. This time I’m talking about the latest offering from Visual Concepts, NBA 2K19. After really enjoying NBA 2K17, I was quite disappointed with NBA 2K18. It wasn’t just the unapologetically greedy approach to microtransactions and the brutal grind, either. I just didn’t enjoy the gameplay experience, and thus shelved NBA 2K18 much earlier than previous games, firing it up only to get screenshots for articles.

In a nutshell, I felt that NBA 2K18 was a surprising regression for the NBA 2K series, uncharacteristically stumbling off course. Is NBA 2K19 heading back in the right direction? In some respects, yes, but there are some key areas of concern, and design choices that I’m disappointed in. The team at Visual Concepts clearly did learn a few lessons from last year’s game however, and took gamer feedback to heart. With that in mind, NBA 2K19 is – as quite a few people have put it – the game that we should’ve received last year. At the same time, it’s not entirely the game that I was hoping for this year. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 Positives and Negatives, at least as I see them.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways Basketball Games Are Less Fun Now

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 ways that basketball video games are less fun these days.

Basketball video games have improved in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, but it hasn’t always been a smooth journey. There have been missteps along the way, and moving forward, there’s obviously still room for improvement in both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Despite that, it’s fair to say that in many ways, basketball games are better than they’ve ever been, providing extremely fun experiences thanks to the factors I discussed in last week’s Friday Five. At the same time, there are a few aspects of today’s games that make them less fun than their predecessors.

It’s difficult to say that without sounding like a grumpy old man being held hostage by his own nostalgia, but it’s true. While design concepts and technology have come a long way, there are certain trends – some specific to basketball games, others common to video gaming in general – that make us yearn for the good old days. In some cases, the good old days aren’t even that long ago, with some of these issues infiltrating our favourite basketball games within the past few years. It’s not that basketball games aren’t fun anymore, or necessarily worse than the titles that came before them, but the particular elements I’m about to discuss have come to affect our enjoyment.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #256

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Episode #256 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and I as we chat about the past week in basketball gaming and NBA news. Topics include the latest NBA Live 19 previews, the NBA 2K19 cover reveals, allegations and speculation about 2K’s business practice, and big offseason moves.

On this week’s show…

  • A brief trailer and a few screenshots spotlighting Quai 54 in NBA Live 19 have been released. In our opinion, the venue and the game are both looking very nice.
  • Rookies are getting their faces scanned for NBA Live 19 during the NBA Summer League. This leads to a discussion of the development cycle, and the increasingly early release dates for NBA Live and NBA 2K.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo has been officially revealed as the cover player for the Standard Edition of NBA 2K19. Ben Simmons, meanwhile, will grace the first ever Australian cover.
  • A recent video discusses an allegedly since-deleted Reddit post, purported to contain damning leaks from an ex-2K employee regarding the company’s business practices. While the claims are unconfirmed and the video quite possibly unsubstantiated clickbait, the alleged explanations for certain design choices are eerily plausible.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming featured a few more challenges in Ultimate Team and new additions to the squad, as well as a couple of modding developments including a potential roster update for NBA 2K11 PC.
  • We wrap up Episode #256 of the NLSC Podcast with a discussion of the latest NBA offseason news. LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, and Tony Parker surprised us with their decisions, while Carmelo Anthony remains one of the biggest names left on the market.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #255

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Episode #255 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane, special guest Clueminati, and I as we discuss the cover reveal and pre-orders for NBA Live 19, the new EA Madrid studio, Strauss Zelnick’s comments on microtransactions, and another week in basketball gaming.

On this week’s show…

  • The cover player for NBA Live 19 has been announced, and as strongly hinted by the reveal trailer, it’s Joel Embiid. All in all, it seems like appropriate branding.
  • NBA Live 19 is also now available to pre-order. There are a handful of pre-order bonuses, along with a 33% discount if you own NBA Live 18.
  • EA has opened a new studio in Madrid. It will collaborate with EA Tiburon on the development of NBA Live, similar to how FIFA’s development is undertaken by three of EA’s studios.
  • Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick commented on the backlash to microtransactions in NBA 2K18. Unfortunately, his words don’t inspire much confidence.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming included taking on some challenges in NBA Live 18 Ultimate Team, LIVE Events, and more.
  • We wrap up Episode #255 of the NLSC Podcast with a discussion of free agency and the NBA award winners. We also share some stories from past community events.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Matchmaking & Microtransactions

NLSC GrindTime in The Playground (NBA 2K18)

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 two very important areas in NBA 2K19: matchmaking and microtransactions.

I’ve mentioned matchmaking and microtransactions in previous articles discussing what I feel must be done in future NBA 2K games, and with the preview season more or less underway, it’s time to revisit these issues. Both are aspects that the NBA 2K development team must handle carefully, to ensure that the experience provided by NBA 2K19 is as accessible and as enjoyable as it can be. If the wrong approach is taken, then this year’s game is going to suffer from the same problems as NBA 2K18, with similar backlash. 2K is overdue to show its fanbase some genuine goodwill.

I originally planned to discuss matchmaking and microtransactions separately, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that the two issues are closely linked. Their respective shortcomings in last year’s game combined to make its most popular online modes far less inviting and enjoyable than they should’ve been. The lack of in-depth matchmaking made the pay-to-win aspect of microtransactions a much larger issue. Likewise, the impact of microtransactions in NBA 2K18 made the lack of proper matchmaking all the more apparent and problematic. If handled better, they needn’t cause as many problems with the competitive balance in NBA 2K19.

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