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The Friday Five: 5 Worst Parts of Playing With Randoms

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, I’m breaking down what I feel are the five worst parts of playing with randoms online.

One of the best parts of modern basketball games is that we’re able to meet up with a bunch of other people we don’t know to play online. Likewise, one of the worst parts of modern basketball games is that we’re able to meet up with a bunch of other people we don’t know to play online. Snarky echoes aside, online gaming will always be a mixed bag, no matter what the genre. Not everyone is about playing fair, or being cooperative. The experience is usually better if you’re teaming up with people that you know, but that isn’t always feasible.

That’s when you end up teaming with randoms. Again, this isn’t unique to basketball games, but hoops games present some unique drawbacks. Since there’s only one ball, not everyone can take an active role at all times as they might in other genres, such as a shooter. Everyone is used to being Player One, and is therefore unwilling to defer to teammates they don’t know. In all fairness it isn’t always a nightmare, and it’s better than not being able to play at all, especially with the new restrictions on team Pro-Am. Nevertheless, it’s often a less than ideal basketball gaming experience. Here are, in my opinion, the five worst parts of being in that situation.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #268

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Episode #268 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Kenny and I have new content and title updates for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 to discuss, some NBA news to catch up on, and as always, some stories about what we’ve been doing on the virtual hardwood.

On this week’s show…

  • The December 4th content update for NBA Live 19 features some worthwhile fixes and additions. However, we’re still left wanting a little more out of the game.
  • Patch 1.07 for NBA 2K19 likewise provides a few welcome fixes and new content. It also includes a gameplay adjustment that should cut down on some online cheese.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming saw some fantastic performances, a determined grind for more VC, and a few less-than-stellar random online teammates (except for one).
  • We wrap up Episode #268 of the NLSC Podcast with the usual NBA discussion. This week’s topics include recent trades and signings, parity in the West, and the continuation of an unofficial Melo Watch segment.

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 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: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

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 takes a look at five ways that NBA 2K pushes microtransactions on basketball gamers.

As much as I’ve criticised microtransactions in previous articles, I have to admit that I’m guilty of partaking in the practice. On some occasions, I’ve been more willing to drop some spare change on content because I’ve been enjoying the game so much. At other times, it’s been through gritted teeth because the grind has been so painful, and I’ve wanted to play online sooner rather than later. I’ve never broken my budget with microtransactions, but simply out of principle, this year it’s been my goal not to spend any real money on any form of virtual currency (in particular, Virtual Currency).

So far, I’ve made good on that resolution. The only VC that I didn’t earn in-game was the 5000 VC pre-order bonus for the standard edition of NBA 2K19. I’m currently 73 Overall, and I would have to say that grinding up the hard way has been a rewarding journey. It is most certainly a grind though, especially now that ratings upgrades are getting more expensive. You really notice how actively (and sometimes, aggressively) 2K pushes microtransactions when you’re trying to avoid them! Metaphorically, it’s gone from a gentle nudge to a firm hand shunting you in the small of your back. Here are five ways that NBA 2K games pressure us in the name of “recurrent revenue”.

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Monday Tip-Off: Addressing the Situation with 2K Pro-Am

The New 2K Pro-Am Squad Requirements amount to Gatekeeping (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 by addressing the situation with 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K19.

As you may or may not be aware, a significant change has been made to 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K19. Whether it’s organised squad games or the Jordan Rec Center – this year’s version of Walk-On – you need five users per side to start a game. In previous games, it was possible to play with at least three users per side, with the remaining spots being filled by AI players. This has made it more difficult for a lot of people to play a mode they’ve enjoyed in recent years. Our NLSC squad is in that boat, and so we’re among the people wanting to see the old functionality patched into the game.

However, not everyone is on board with that idea. 2K themselves haven’t made it a priority to address the situation, and there’s also been pushback from NBA 2K19 gamers. It’s admittedly hard to please everyone in this situation, but the change was myopic, while the pushback has highlighted some of the toxicity that sadly exists in the NBA 2K community. To that end, I’d like to address both Visual Concepts and the dissenting gamers in this week’s Monday Tip-Off. Call it an open letter, call it a rant; call it whining if you’re the close-minded and toxic type. It’s a situation that I believe must be addressed, and to that end, I’m stating the case for my side.

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Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K19 Edition)

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 the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K19’s Neighborhood.

Last year, I calculated the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18’s new open world, The Neighborhood. I noted that most consumables and clothing cost as much as a single game’s base salary for your MyPLAYER (if not more), which was already stretching reality. Converting VC to real dollars via the salary that’s listed on our MyPLAYER’s bio card determined that 1 VC was equivalent to around $29. This meant that in-universe, a basic t-shirt cost over $17,000, while a headband would set you back a whopping $29,000. That’s some serious sales tax!

In NBA 2K19, VC rewards were increased slightly. It’s possible to negotiate a higher first year salary upon completing The Prelude, incentive-based bonuses come along quite early in your career, and there are other ways of earning some extra VC. The catch is that upgrades are still quite expensive, as are clothing items. In other words, it’s been more of a case of inflation rather than parity. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to make the same conversions and determine the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K19 as well. Are the prices just as ridiculous when you put a real dollar value on them this year?

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Monday Tip-Off: Juggling Multiple Basketball Games

2018 Basketball Games

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 juggling time between multiple basketball games.

Compared to other sports, we’re in an enviable position when it comes to basketball games. There are two developers working on sim-oriented titles, and while one game is in the lead, the other is steadily improving and becoming a viable option. We’ve also seen the resurrection of the arcade basketball genre, providing us with a brand new alternative to the sim experience. Throw in a wonderful retro concept in the form of Basketball Classics, and we’ve got quite a few options these days as far as the virtual hardwood is concerned.

That does present a certain problem, of course. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of them that we can commit to video games. With so much to do in modern basketball games, it can be difficult to spend ample time with each of them if you do decide to buy more than one. As far as problems go, this is admittedly very low stakes, and indeed a desirable one to have, but those tougher issues in life are beyond the scope of a website dedicated to basketball gaming! In any event, if you’ve invested in more than one basketball game this year and you’re trying to get the most out of each, know that you’re not alone.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #265

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Episode #265 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and I as we discuss the official updates for NBA Live 19, online play in NBA 2K19, and recent NBA news.

On this week’s show…

  • EA Sports has been pushing through patches for NBA Live 19 on a weekly basis, but the community is growing a little frustrated with the lack of adjustments to gameplay and game modes. Could the updates for NBA Live 19 stand to be more substantial?
  • The NLSC crew had more fun playing The Playground than the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19 this week. We were glad to have some fun hooping together online, but we’re still disappointed in the new approach to NBA 2K’s Pro-Am modes.
  • Speaking of online play, could NBA Live and NBA 2K be doing more to reward good teamwork and punish bad sportsmanship?
  • We wrap up Episode #265 of the NLSC Podcast with this week’s NBA discussion. Topics include Kyrie Irving’s post-game outburst, a trade for Jimmy Butler, and Carmelo Anthony’s future.

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: Why Starting Ratings Must Be Higher

Starting Ratings make online play tough (NBA 2K19, Jordan Rec Center)

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 ideal starting ratings for career modes, and why they must be a little higher than they currently are.

The only reason that I’m considering spending any time in MyCAREER this year after feeling burned out on the experience is to build a player for the online modes. Since our NLSC squad has spent a little time in the Jordan Rec Center so far, I’d like to have a player that stands a chance of being competitive online, without having to spend any money on VC this time around. Fortunately, Badges are easier to earn in NBA 2K19, but the process of levelling up from 60 Overall is still quite a daunting task if you don’t have a stack of VC on hand for an initial boost.

In previous articles, I’ve talked about how the grind has turned me off MyCAREER, and how it makes starting over every year feel wearying and unsatisfying. While I’ve vaguely touched on some solutions, I’d like to offer up some more definitive ideas on how to address the problem. One of the key issues that must be addressed is the low starting ratings we begin with every year. It’s a delicate situation as those ratings can’t make the game too easy or too hard, the journey too long or too short. Throw in the matter of competitive and accessible online play, however, and I think it’s clear that starting ratings in MyCAREER must be higher.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas for Basketball Games from Other Genres

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 ideas that future basketball games should consider borrowing from titles in other genres.

Basketball games, like all sports titles, differ from other genres of video games when it comes to their nuances and our expectations. In many video games, there are several breaks from reality that are not only acceptable, but desirable. The lack of realism in specific aspects of gameplay doesn’t break our sense of immersion the same way it will in a game that is attempting to accurately depict a sport. To that end, certain features, functions, and concepts that we find in other genres of video games aren’t necessarily a good fit in basketball titles.

At the same time, while Da_Czar’s famous catchphrase of “Don’t play video games; play basketball!” is a great philosophy for developers and basketball gamers alike, the fact remains that basketball games are still video games. There are aspects of real life, such as commercial breaks, that they don’t need to replicate. Similarly, there are good ideas for features, functions, and even content that can be utilised by a wide variety of genres. Even though the concepts aren’t basketball-centric in and of themselves, they could still greatly enhance future NBA Live and NBA 2K releases. Here are five such ideas that basketball games could stand to borrow and make their own.

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Monday Tip-Off: When Good Intentions Become Gatekeeping

Jordan Rec Center 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 NBA 2K19’s approach to Pro-Am and the Jordan Rec Center, and how good intentions have turned into gatekeeping.

For the past couple of weeks, our official NLSC squad – the one that has gone by the names of both THRILLHO and GrindTime – have brought back our Friday night tradition of getting together to play online. We’ve been playing a few games in the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19, and while the experience has had its usual ups and downs, it’s been more fun than Pro-Am in NBA 2K18. Even at a measly 64 Overall – I’m currently refusing to buy VC to upgrade quicker – it’s been fairly enjoyable. The fact that the rest of the guys have been grinding more frequently certainly helps.

However, the experience could be a lot better and more appealing; not just for us, but for NBA 2K gamers in general. The problem is that in NBA 2K19, there’s a barrier to enjoying Pro-Am games, and getting to play at all for that matter, which wasn’t there in years past. This year, five users per side are required to start a game of Pro-Am, or a walk-on game in the Jordan Rec Center. Previously, three users per team was the minimum required to get a game going. 2K is obviously aiming for a particular type of experience with this decision, but the approach has resulted in those modes being far less accessible, essentially gatekeeping and promoting a sense of elitism.

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More Details on The Neighborhood in NBA 2K19

The Neighborhood in NBA 2K19

In the wake of yesterday’s trailer, a couple of previews have been posted which provide further details on The Neighborhood in NBA 2K19. Both Game Informer and Forbes have posted articles explaining some of the changes, additions, and improvements this year. As always, I recommend reading the entire articles for the full scoop, but I’ll try to summarise the key points as best I can.

  • Archetypes will be more balanced. Defensive Archetypes will have better offensive ratings than last year, and Archetypes have generally been re-worked to remove some of the disadvantages of choosing certain styles of play.
  • In the full version of NBA 2K19, we’ll be able to see the maximum rating for each attribute as we’re creating our players, and note how they change as we select the Archetype, height, weight, and so on. It was a late addition, so it won’t be featured in The Prelude.
  • MyPLAYERs still start at 60 Overall, but there will reportedly be less of a grind this year. The difficulty multiplier returns, and all Badge drills will award XP.
  • The Neighborhood has been redesigned to be more centralised and is now square-shaped, for less running around. We can also proceed directly to the practice arena following games.
  • Pro-Am Walk On has been replaced by the Jordan Rec Center. “Got Next” is still in effect in The Playground.
  • Haircuts can be previewed first, and no longer cost VC. Vehicles such as skateboards and bicycles can be purchased from a new shop (“Wheels”) as you level up.
  • A special MyTEAM store will allow you to create a MyTEAM card based on your MyPLAYER.
  • There are several more mini-games including dodgeball (which can grant a lot of VC), trampoline basketball, and a daily trivia contest. There will also be revolving live events, each with different themes. We’ll also experience transitions from day to night over six hour periods in The Neighborhood.
  • This year’s story – in which the cutscenes are skippable – will take players through the Chinese League and G-League before making it to the NBA.
  • MyCOURT is basically the same, though you don’t have to return there to change clothes, and there’s no B-Fresh this year.
  • A daily prize wheel can be spun for a chance at various prizes including shoes, VC, and XP (apparently now called MyPoints). Daily challenges have also been incorporated, with big rewards.
  • The new Crew mode will be 3v3 and allow you to team up with two friends to take on various challenges.

Once again, be sure to check out the aforementioned articles for additional details and comments from the developers! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in our NBA 2K19 Forum.

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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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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons Not to Ragequit

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 reasons why you shouldn’t ragequit when playing NBA Live or NBA 2K.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the CPU not playing fair, or an embarrassing deficit to an online opponent, we suddenly find ourselves wanting to ragequit a basketball video game. While it’s almost universally considered poor form to ragequit an online game you’re losing, it can be a healthy decision when you’re playing offline. It’s much better than breaking a controller (or anything else in the vicinity), and if you’re really not having any fun, you’re better off taking a break and trying again later. Generally speaking, it’s best not to try forcing yourself to endure unenjoyable experiences.

However, there are times when you should try to persevere. Beyond showing good sportsmanship in online play, there are incentives to gut out a game that isn’t going your way. You may be missing out on a potentially rewarding experience, as well as a few valuable lessons that may help you to improve your play on the virtual hardwood. No one likes to lose, and losing badly is a bitter pill to swallow, but strength in the face of adversity builds character; so does good sportsmanship, for that matter. Before you let your frustration get the better of you, here are five reasons not to ragequit when playing basketball video games.

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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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