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Tag Archives: Microtransactions

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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Monday Tip-Off: Getting Back to Basics with NBA 2K19

2002 Kings Clones in 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 how getting back to basics with NBA 2K19 would be a great move after the controversy and dissatisfaction that surrounded NBA 2K18.

For years, NBA 2K has been the dominant brand in basketball gaming. It started with EA Sports’ misfire when NBA Live 06 was released on Xbox 360, devoid of Dynasty Mode and generally being a rough transition to the next generation. As NBA Live continued to struggle, NBA 2K stayed the course and went from strength to strength, garnering higher ratings from reviewers and eventually becoming the top-selling NBA game when NBA 2K9 outsold NBA Live 09. The series has continued to innovate and receive praise from gamers and gaming publications alike, setting sales records and expanding its brand with its own weekly TV show, and now an eSports league.

And yet, despite all its success, the brand doesn’t feel as untouchable as it once did. NBA 2K18 received an unprecedented amount of backlash over its greedy and anti-consumer approach to microtransactions, which greatly affected some of its most popular modes. Beyond that controversy, a lot of gamers felt that the game had simply taken a few steps backwards with a new motion system that didn’t seem quite ready, AI that didn’t feel as smart or realistic, and rosters that were riddled with problems. While 2K’s strategies for “recurrent revenue” obviously won’t be going anywhere, I’d suggest that NBA 2K19 could otherwise really benefit from going back to basics.

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Monday Tip-Off: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Taking on Kyrie Irving in MyCAREER (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 the way basketball gaming has changed in recent years, and whether the traditional approach has become outmoded.

Basketball video games have obviously been around for a long time, bringing great enjoyment to people who love both the sport and gaming. Compared to other sports, basketball has proven to be a little harder to accurately represent in a video game, with so many variables affecting the level of realism. While arcade-oriented games often still hold up thanks to their casual approach, sim-oriented titles tend to show their age. Whether it’s the shot distribution, scores that are too high or too low, a lack of realistic strategy, or a shallow season mode experience, a lot of classic games do leave something to be desired, as much fun as we had with them when they were new.

Fortunately, basketball gaming has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. From deep and engaging modes to smarter AI and more realistic gameplay, we’ve been able to enjoy experiences on the virtual hardwood we could only dream of all those years ago. However, it feels as though basketball games have set a new course in recent years, shifting away from the experience that we’ve traditionally wanted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s important that the games keep up with changing trends and demographics, but as we discussed in Episode #236 of the NLSC Podcast, it sometimes feels like traditional basketball gaming is coming to an end.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #230

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #230 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Without any technical issues to keep us off the air, we’re back to talk about the latest updates for NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, share our latest impressions of both games, and catch up on the past couple of weeks in basketball gaming news.

On this week’s show…

  • Patch 1.08 has added comprehensive roster editing to NBA Live 18. We’re certainly surprised, and impressed at how the game has continued to improve since launch.
  • NBA 2K18’s Patch 1.06 has addressed some bugs, but also caused a few more problems. To be honest, we’re still feeling disappointed with this year’s release from Visual Concepts.
  • The qualifying round for the NBA 2K League will be taking place in January. We share our thoughts on what the League might be like, given our experiences with 2K Pro-Am.
  • Several t-shirts have been removed from the kiosk in The Neighborhood, mostly due to trademark and copyright concerns. This has led to some issues with lost VC.
  • A teenager has spent over $17,000 AUS on microtransactions across various games, leading us to once again reflect on their intrusive nature in AAA titles.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming has seen our frustration with 2K Pro-Am reach its boiling point, an enjoyable victory in The Playground, and possible plans to change up our habits on the virtual hardwood.
  • We wrap up Episode #230 of the NLSC Podcast with some NBA discussion, including recent streaks, and the Jahlil Okafor trade.

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 #228

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #228 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Arcane and I are back on the air after some more technical difficulties last week, but with any luck, we shouldn’t have any similar interruptions moving forward. In the meantime, join us as we catch up on the past couple of weeks in NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 news, and share our latest basketball gaming experiences.

On this week’s show…

  • The release of Star Wars: Battlefront II has led to some crossover content in NBA Live 18. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but some of the gear is pretty cool.
  • We now know what LIVESTRIKE entails. A series of Live Events will be available for a short period of time, providing premium content drops featuring exclusive gear.
  • It seems that we’ll be getting more than just gear, as EA Sports has also teased some other new content for NBA Live 18. Will it be a 3v3 mode, as currently rumoured?
  • Roster updates seem to have taken a back seat in NBA Live 18, which is less than ideal given the lack of roster editing.
  • Patch 1.05 is out now for the PC and Xbox One versions of NBA 2K18. We also wonder whether a hotfix has come through, resolving lock-up issues in The Neighborhood.
  • Revenue from microtransactions has increased 57% in NBA 2K18. The question is, are gamers spending the money because they support the business model, or simply out of necessity?
  • NBA 2K18 has been nominated for a Sports Game of the Year award. Would it be our pick?
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming has included some very satisfying wins in 2K Pro-Am, a lot of progress in MyCAREER, and Live Events in NBA Live 18.
  • We wrap up Episode #228 of the NLSC Podcast with some NBA discussion. Apologies in advance to Boston Celtics fans for jinxing the team.

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: Goodwill, Greed, and NBA 2K18

The Neighborhood in 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 some thoughts on the current controversies surrounding NBA 2K18, and the goodwill that Visual Concepts has lost.

I’ll admit that there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to write this column. I’ve already discussed the matter in Episode #223 of the NLSC Podcast and in the NLSC Forum, and I’d rather not sound like a broken record. Furthermore, it’s all too easy to come across like a hater, gleefully indulging in some opportunistic bashing simply because there’s a controversial issue that’s a hot topic at the moment. However, it is a big deal, and it’s something that we basketball gamers shouldn’t let slide. I am of course referring to the aggressive implementation of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18.

By now, if you haven’t played NBA 2K18 and felt the sting of VC gouging, you’ve no doubt heard other basketball gamers expressing their outrage. Perhaps you’ve even read about 2K reaching out to a site that published a negative review, asking them to reconsider their score. These are disturbing and disheartening practices for a company that is the brand leader, with a vast majority of the market share. As a game, NBA 2K has gone from strength to strength in many aspects, stepping up to deliver great experiences on the virtual hardwood as the NBA Live series has faltered. That’s earned them the adoration of gamers, but right now, that goodwill lies in ruins.

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NBA Playgrounds Roster Unlock Now Available

Saber Interactive has released a Roster Unlock add-on for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions of NBA Playgrounds. The add-on allows gamers to automatically unlock all current players, as well as every free player that will be added to the game in the future. It’s available at a cost of $9.99 USD.

In a previous interview, Matthew Karch indicated that a pay-to-unlock add-on was a heavily requested feature, and mentioned that it would be something they would be exploring, despite his general aversion to such an approach. However, several gamers have expressed their displeasure with the move on social media, blasting the decision on the game’s official Facebook and Twitter.

If I may offer my own take on the matter, while I am leery of microtransactions and pay-to-win mechanics, I do feel there is merit to offering the Roster Unlock add-on. One of NBA Playgrounds’ biggest weaknesses is its lack of offline content. If you’re chiefly an offline gamer, it becomes a massive grind to level up and earn packs once you’ve completed the Tournaments. Naturally, if you’ve already gone through the tough grind, you may feel a bit cheated by the release of the add-on, and there are always going to be concerns about online balance. A move like this is always going to be controversial, but the sparse amount of offline content almost makes it a necessity.

An important point to remember here is that a lot of NBA Playgrounds gamers did ask for this, despite Saber’s initial reluctance to adopt microtransactions. While the move is not going to be to everyone’s liking, I personally feel that NBA Playgrounds is a game that’s still worth supporting, especially if new content can continue to be added. Whichever decision they made on this issue, one side of the fanbase was not going to be happy. It’s a problematic approach in some respects, but arguably a necessary evil, and something that was indeed heavily requested.

What’s your take on add-ons such as this? Is it appropriate here, given the lack of modes and offline content in NBA Playgrounds? Have your say in the comments section below, and join in the discussion of the game here in the Forum!

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