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The Friday Five: 5 Keys to a “No Money Spent” Experience

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 tips that are the key to having a “No Money Spent” experience in NBA 2K.

Microtransactions remain a controversial issue in NBA 2K, and Triple-A gaming as a whole. Although they are technically optional, there’s no denying that 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics are implemented in a way that does all they can to push gamers towards spending real money on Virtual Currency. Gamers who spend level up quicker and end up with better cards sooner, and in turn, they set the competitive balance in online play. Even if you stick to the offline modes, opting for the No Money Spent approach ensures a lengthy grind, year after year.

Of course, for those of us who don’t want to support the recurrent revenue business model and spend additional money on a game that’ll be outmoded in a year, finding a way to beat the system is a point of pride. There’s great satisfaction to be had in enjoying a game without having to shell out cash in order to level up efficiently, or access some of its best content. Once again though, NBA 2K is subtly (and not-so-subtly) trying to push us towards spending at every turn, so the No Money Spent approach takes a few tricks, discipline, and a willingness to work the system. To that end, here are five keys to getting the most out of a No Money Spent experience.

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Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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The Friday Five: 5 Nifty Features That Weren’t Advertised

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 nifty features that weren’t advertised, and we had to discover on our own.

Over the years, the preview season has grown shorter and less exciting. I’ll admit that for my part, there’s a certain amount of cynicism that’s inevitable after covering hoops games for so many years. Features and entire games that didn’t live up to the hype do leave one jaded, or at the very least, taking every preview with a grain of salt. On top of that, with only one game guaranteed to come out every year, we’ve lost that back and forth, those attempts at one-upmanship coming out of EA Sports and 2K Sports. Indeed, the preview season has been reduced to a handful of blogs close to launch.

Hopefully, the previews for the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21 will shake things up. It’s the version that’s received the most attention after all, whereas the Current Gen release was outsourced to another studio. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when a few things are left for us to discover. Indeed, even when the preview season felt longer and more exciting, developers wouldn’t go into absolutely every detail about the games. There were always a few nifty things that didn’t make the previews, or the list of features on the back of the box. It’d be nice to discover a few gems in the newly released Current Gen version of NBA 2K21, though; gems such as these nifty features in past games.

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NLSC Podcast #337: Playing Your Cards Right

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Episode #337 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As the NBA 2K21 demo looms, we’ve received an insight into MyTEAM with the latest developer blog. Much of this week’s show is spent providing a comprehensive breakdown of the blog, which delivered some promising news. We also offer up some final speculation ahead of the demo’s release, though we’re keeping our expectations low as far as its scope is concerned. With the launch of NBA 2K21 Next Gen happening a couple of months into the Current Gen version’s life cycle, we also talk about our plans for the latter. Other topics include Ante-Up, MyTEAM pack odds, the positives and negatives of regulation in the Auction House, and the oldest releases that we could feasibly play regularly again.

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. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #335: For a Few Dollars More

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Episode #335 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The NBA 2K21 Current Gen trailer has given us something to really sink our teeth into this week. We share our thoughts on what we saw, and touch on some of the community reactions. A glimpse of the new Shot Meter and recent comments by Beluba also inspire us to once again discuss shooting mechanics. Meanwhile, remarks by 2K’s CEO have continued to stir up controversy regarding the Next Gen price increase. We have a few things to say on the matter, along with our subsequent expectations for Next Gen. With the NBA Live 16 servers shutting down, we also encourage everyone to wrap up their business ASAP, and take some time to reflect on the game.

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. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Monday Tip-Off: The Decline of MyCAREER Offline

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 decline of MyCAREER offline, and its effect on the career experience in NBA 2K.

MyCAREER has been my main mode of choice since I was drawn to it back in NBA 2K13. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’ve felt a desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer – especially given the depth currently on offer in MyLEAGUE – and have also spent time with MyTEAM, as well as Ultimate Team in NBA Live over the past generation. However, MyCAREER has been difficult to quit, particularly as I’ve grown to appreciate the online scene through 2K Pro-Am. The connected experience offers several benefits, but it’s also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER offline.

I was originally going to cover this in a Friday Five article which would’ve been titled “5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse”, but I decided that the list format wouldn’t do the issue justice. One of the major reasons for my change of heart and mind is that I stumbled across this Reddit post from about five months back, outlining the way that MyCAREER offline has been downgraded over the years. It was well-researched, and I must credit it here as a source of information for the specific changes I’ve noted. Its title was apt, too. It’s a matter that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, and I’d like to rectify that by covering it today, while also considering some possible solutions.

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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Aspects of 2K’s Early Career Modes

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 aspects of NBA 2K’s early career modes that look odd in retrospect.

TV Tropes enthusiasts will no doubt be familiar with the term “Early Installment Weirdness“. To quote the laconic definition, it refers the phenomenon of “first releases of franchises that include very surprising differences in specific tropes or even the absence of a trope that later became predominant in that work”. To put it another way, the first season of a TV show or the early titles in a video game series may have elements that were changed or phased out, retroactively making them look very strange and out of place compared to what came afterwards.

Being a genre that has evolved over a number of years and generations of hardware, basketball games are no exception. Certain controls and gameplay mechanics, and even features of the staple game modes, have drastically changed as concepts have evolved and technology has improved. Of course, less pleasing developments such as the introduction of microtransactions have also fuelled changes that leave us wishing we could go back to the old days, and the old ways. The single player career mode in NBA 2K – originally called My Player, now branded MyCAREER – features some prime examples of aspects that now seem quite odd. Let’s take a look at five of them!

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NLSC Podcast #330: The Price of Upgrading

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Episode #330 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The three cover players and their editions of NBA 2K21 have been revealed, and it turns out our predictions were pretty good! We react to the choices, and some of the community’s opinions on them. We’ve also discovered that the Next Gen version will have cross-platform VC and MyTEAM progression, but more controversially, a $10 price increase. Breaking down the pre-order bonuses also suggests that the approach to microtransactions and grinding won’t be much different this year. With confirmation that NBA 2K21 PC is a Current Gen port, we weigh up the pros and cons, and what it means for our modding community. Elsewhere, reactions to Madden 21’s Franchise mode have made us wonder about the future of franchise gaming in basketball titles. Finally, we’re noticing some new waves of nostalgia among younger and older hoops gamers alike.

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.

NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition, Other Info Announced

NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition Announcement (Next Gen)

The final NBA 2K21 covers have been revealed! As expected, the third edition of the game is the Legend Edition, which this year is named the “Mamba Forever” edition after its cover player, the late Kobe Bryant. Additionally, the Current Gen and Next Gen versions of the Mamba Forever edition of NBA 2K21 will each have their own cover art, which you can check out below.

NBA 2K21 is now available to pre-order for all platforms. The Current Gen version, which refers to the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia releases, will be out on September 4th (and not October, as previously reported). The Next Gen version will be a launch title for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X this holiday season. See below for details on the pre-order bonuses.

As reported by Operation Sports, the Mamba Forever edition of NBA 2K21 will also grant dual access to the Standard Edition on the other generation at no additional contest. This means that if you opt for the Mamba Forever edition on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you’ll get a copy of the Standard Edition on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X as well (and vice versa).

OS has also revealed that there will be cross-platform progression for MyTEAM, and your VC wallet will also be shared between Current and Next Gen. This comes as excellent news for anyone concerned about having to start over from scratch, or simply having to buy the game again for that matter, once the PS5 and XSX are released.

Once again, check out the cover art for the Mamba Forever edition below, along with the pre-order bonuses and reveal trailer. Got any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments, as well as join in the discussion taking place here in the NLSC Forum!

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Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

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 changing face and identity of the NBA 2K series in recent years.

Back in early May, I noticed a Tweet from Brian Mazique, in which he responded to the suggestion that NBA Live should be free to play as a way to win people back as they try to return to prominence. He described NBA Live as being irrelevant, noting that when it comes to NBA 2K, Visual Concepts and Take-Two are looking at games like Fortnite and Call of Duty as the competition and sources of ideas for engagement. It may sound harsh, and there are a lot of people who want to see NBA Live succeed and would be willing to make the switch if it did, but it’s an apt statement.

In fact, it’s apt on two counts. Gaining relevance and market share is obviously one of the challenges facing NBA Live, and that’s something I’ve previously discussed here in Monday Tip-Off. However, Brian is also quite right that with NBA 2K becoming a fixture in pop culture, and in some ways transcending its genre, its peers are popular games like Fortnite and the Call of Duty series. That’s a great position for NBA 2K to be in, but it’s also a troubling one for enthusiastic hoop heads. To state the obvious, those games are not basketball titles, whereas NBA 2K is. Competing with and borrowing from those games has resulted in a changing face and identity for NBA 2K.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Combination With Locker Codes

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Combination With Locker Codes

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 NBA 2K has finally hit the right combination with Locker Codes.

In one of my earliest Monday Tip-Off articles back in 2015, I criticised Locker Codes for the way they’d been implemented in NBA 2K. At the time, all codes were severely limited in both quantity and the amount of time gamers had to redeem them. To that point, gamers in different time zones rarely had a chance to successfully redeem any codes. Even if you made it a point to wait around for a Locker Code drop with the game loaded and code entry screen in front of you, the limited quantity always meant that your chances of successfully redeeming a prize were incredibly slim.

Furthermore, Locker Codes often yielded useless rewards, such as 100 VC or MT, or a shoe or animation for your MyPLAYER, even if you weren’t playing MyCAREER. It’s for that reason I included Locker Codes in a Friday Five list of useless features back in 2017. At the time I received some pushback on Twitter from someone who clearly didn’t bother to read my explanation, which was that while the concept wasn’t bad or pointless, the execution of the idea limited their usefulness. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Over the past couple of years, NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20 have made much better use of Locker Codes, and deserve credit for making that change.

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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 Right Direction for NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

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 thoughts on the right direction for NBA Live.

Needless to say, the past decade has been tough for NBA Live. Through cancelled titles and skipped years, the series has seen only five releases during that span. There have been promising aspects and good ideas present in those five games, and it could be argued that at least a couple of titles have been solid, but EA Sports has failed to move the needle. NBA Live is still languishing far behind where it needs to be as a viable alternative to NBA 2K and the enormous gulf in sales speaks volumes. NBA 2K has its issues, but NBA Live hasn’t been able to capitalise on gamer frustration.

The good news is that the door hasn’t been slammed shut on NBA Live. Thanks to a combination of readily apparent potential and 2K squandering goodwill, there is still interest in seeing NBA Live return to its former glory. Unfortunately, the series’ steps towards reaching that goal haven’t been as large as many of us would’ve liked, and one of the main reasons for that is the direction of the series. More specifically, this includes both the particular choices that have been made, and the tendency to change direction too often. NBA Live needs to have the right focus moving forward, but that raises the question: what is the right direction for NBA Live to take?

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NLSC Podcast #323: But Will There Be Shoelace Physics?

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Episode #323 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As The Last Dance draws to a close, 2K are cashing in with a new GOAT Michael Jordan card in NBA 2K20 MyTEAM, and classic Bulls gear in MyCAREER. There might be a way of getting all of those items, but are we willing to pay the price? Speaking of future purchases, the PlayStation 5 tech demo has given us a glimpse of what to expect from next gen. We consider what it might mean for basketball games, and whether the tech will be put to good use. That leads us to reflect on what it’s like to be in the older age bracket of the basketball gaming demographic, as well as whether it’s possible to enjoy a broken game. Our recent poll also sparks a discussion on different approaches to retro team roster mods.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

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 rather dismal realisation that basketball gaming belongs to the suits.

I know I said that many things aren’t worth an angry rant, but this isn’t going to be an angry rant. I’m feeling a certain amount of exasperation and pessimism, yes, but I’m trying to remain calm and not rage for the sake of it. As a new generation looms, many of us are wondering what it means for basketball gaming. The genre has already come a long way – a few backwards steps not withstanding – and it remains to be seen what can be accomplished with the added power of the forthcoming consoles. The problem is that that kind of innovation doesn’t appear to be the focus.

Perhaps that’s a harsh and unfair assertion, given that we’re nearing the end of the current generation. We couldn’t have imagined some of the things that we’ve seen over the past seven years, when the previous generation was seemingly tapped out after producing some outstanding basketball games. However, the difference this time around is that gaming has changed. Games are designed with recurrent spending in mind, and microtransactions are no longer just for free-to-play titles. Quality seems secondary to pushy recurrent revenue mechanics; a trend that’s highly unlikely to end anytime soon. It’s clear that the suits control the destiny of hoops games.

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