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 confessions that I must make in regards to basketball gaming.
Today, I’m opening up the floor to basketball gaming confessions. What do I mean by that? Well, I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to the virtual hardwood, we’ve all made some mistakes, have some surprising or unpopular opinions that contradict our usual stance on basketball gaming topics, and have done things that are hypocritical. Hey, we’re complicated beings, and none of us are perfect! We don’t like to admit it because we don’t enjoy looking foolish, even when it comes to something as low stakes as a recreational activity like basketball video games.
So you know what? Let’s remove that stigma and share some stories! I’ll readily tip things off with five basketball gaming confessions of my own. There’s nothing sinister here; nothing particularly scandalous. From finding enjoyment in aspects that I’ve criticised to being a sore loser on the virtual hardwood, I’m willing to put my hand up and admit to blunders, regrets, and guilty pleasures. Some of these confessions may be surprising, while others will probably make sense. There’s also something I can chalk up as research and a learning experience, while another is a reminder to always pay attention when shopping on eBay. With that being said, let the admissions begin!
1. I do mess around with skateboarding in The City
Look, I have my criticisms of The City, much as I criticised The Neighborhood. It’d be so much faster dealing with menus than having to run all over a map to perform tasks or partake in online play. There’s an impressive amount of detail that goes into The City that I can appreciate of course, and it’s undoubtedly a more sophisticated idea than just browsing menus. It does bother me that so much attention is paid to a virtual world with various methods of draining your VC balance, especially when there are aspects of the online experience – from gameplay to implementing proper matchmaking – that should be focused on before the bells and whistles of a hub world.
To be blunt, it’s ridiculous that advanced skateboard mechanics and the ability to grind rails around The City were a higher priority than in-depth matchmaking, or anything else that would actually improve the online competitive scene. Since I’m sharing basketball gaming confessions though, I’ll admit to occasionally taking the time to skateboard around The City, trying out a few tricks and looking for rails to grind. Maybe it’s my nostalgia for Bart vs. The Space Mutants and the skateboarding segment in its first level. Or, perhaps it’s realising that the skateboard is free this year and probably won’t be in NBA 2K22’s City, so I’m having fun with it while I can.
2. I have purchased Virtual Currency before
At this point, I’ve discussed the issues with VC and NBA 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics so often that I’m concerned about running the matter into the ground. I still believe it’s a problem and I’ll always advocate for “No Money Spent“, but I do realise that I need to take a break from covering certain topics. On top of that, I can’t claim innocence or the moral high ground here. Yes, I’ve engaged in microtransactions in NBA 2K before, spending real money on VC so that I could upgrade my MyPLAYER quicker on launch day. It’s been years since I’ve done it as I’ve resolved not to partake in the practice, but in previous games, I must confess to being a part of the problem.
Granted, I’ve always had a limit, though while I’m being completely honest in my confessions, a couple of times I did pay for some extra boosts after the initial one, due to impatience and a desire not to be underpowered in online play. However, I’d also argue that’s given me firsthand experience with the pressure and temptation involved with those mechanics. I’ve been able to compare the costs of buying VC to upgrade a player to the time it takes to grind for the same amount, and note how MyCAREER and its connected modes are designed to push you to spend. I can’t say that I’ve never spent a cent on VC (or avoided the special editions), but it has given me perspective.
3. I’ve ragequit games in Dynasty
No one likes to lose, but losses in a franchise mode do make the experience more interesting. Sure, it can be a lot of fun to dominate the league, but slumps have a way of making winning streaks so much more enjoyable. Losses give you something to bounce back from, and in some cases, can be learning experiences while sharpening your stick skills. Experiencing losses during a franchise game sets up wonderful underdog runs, emulates the ups and downs of the NBA regular season, and even if you do go on to win the championship, doing so from a lower seed also means you won’t be stuck with the last Draft pick in each round. In short, don’t be a sore loser.
This is advice that I stand by, because I can attest to how enduring losses during a franchise game – whichever one you’re playing – can ultimately result in a very rewarding experience. The first season of my NBA Live 06 Dynasty with the Bulls is proof of that. But since I’m coming before you all today with my basketball gaming confessions, I will admit to sometimes ragequitting when a Dynasty game – including ones in that aforementioned NBA Live 06 save -was too frustrating. Though losing Ben Gordon to injury ended up making the first season memorable, when it happened in a loss in Year 2, I quit and replayed the game. Disgraceful, but hey, it’s the CPU.
4. For all my criticism, MyCAREER stories fascinate me
Of all the confessions that I’m making here today, this is probably the one that is the least surprising. After all, for as much as I’ve criticised the story-driven approach in MyCAREER and made fun of characters such as B-Fresh, I’ve also written quite a few articles delving into the concept. That’s because I do love storytelling, and while MyCAREER stories can be very intrusive to the mode, I appreciate their production values and the effort that goes into them. There’s a lot to analyse with the stories, from the quality of the narrative and the lore throughout the years, to how they impact the gameplay experience and ideas for improving their implementation in the future.
They’re also admittedly low hanging fruit to make fun of, but MyCAREER stories do hold a certain fascination for me. Again, I believe it’s important to analyse all aspects of the games and not just write them off with insults and thought-terminating cliches, and the story-driven approach is an interesting idea that has added some creative mini-games to some of the stories. A couple of the better-written stories have made the journey to the NBA somewhat more interesting. As much as I’d advocate for a more straightforward career experience that doesn’t punish or disadvantage us for skipping the tale, MyCAREER stories do provide a lot of topics to talk about.
5. I once bought a game I didn’t need
Something that I’ve really enjoyed doing in recent years is building up my collection of basketball video games. It serves a couple of purposes. One, basketball gaming is obviously a passion of mine, and I like playing a variety of titles, new and old. Two, it gives me a lot of material for Wayback Wednesday features, and any articles where I need to reference or research old titles. I’m not exceedingly wealthy by any means, so I like to collect frugally. I’ve already got a fairly extensive collection as it is, but when I want to add something new, I seek out the best possible deal, I don’t mind foregoing complete-in-box, and I’ll wait if the price isn’t right, in order to be a savvy collector.
That’s why one of my most embarrassing confessions is that I once bought a game that I didn’t need, as it was already in my collection. I was having difficulty tracking down NBA Live 2003 for the original PlayStation at a reasonable price, and ended up buying the Spanish version of the game. While looking for an English copy, I bought the PlayStation 2 version – which I already owned – because I didn’t pay close enough attention to that listing either. Fortunately it was only a few dollars, but I certainly felt very foolish, and not at all a savvy collector! I did eventually get an English version of NBA Live 2003 on PS1, but I’ve got some extras in the collection now as well.
So, those are five basketball gaming confessions off my chest. What are some of yours? Let me know in the comments, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.