2K Sports adds unskippable ads in loading screens for NBA 2K21 (Updated)


Posts: 839   +161
Staff member
Update (October 22, 2020): In response to fan criticism over showing unskippable ads during loading screens, it looks like NBA 2K21 will soon be removing the feature in a future episode of the game. "As many are aware, in recent years ads have been integrated into 2KTV segments. Yesterday's 2KTV ad placement impacted our players' experience in a way we didn't intend, as these ads are not meant to run as part of the pre-game introduction. This will be fixed in future episodes. Thanks for your continued feedback," says the publisher.

We're increasingly told that game loading screens will soon be a thing of the past, but 2K Sports apparently thinks those few seconds or minutes are a good opportunity to pitch unskippable ads in its $60 NBA 2K21. It's a similar stunt to what EA pulled off recently with UFC 4, which it soon had to undo following fan backlash.

Like its FIFA counterpart from EA, 2K Sports' NBA series is often criticized for churning out annual installments that barely add new gameplay elements but have slightly better-looking crowds, some added sweat and reflections, and a roster update to make them feel new.

In addition to facing criticism for these minor updates, the NBA series, like most sports games, features microtransactions as well and will also be getting a price bump for next-gen consoles. One could be forgiven for thinking that 2K Sports would have exhausted all options to squeeze out as much money as possible from their games. But wait...there's more.

Stevivor reports that NBA 2K21 recently started showing ads for the Oculus Quest 2 on its loading screen. The feature was absent in review copies of the game and has been added via an update across PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game.

The move is similar to EA's, which added unskippable ads for Amazon's The Boys in UFC 4, only to have them disabled shortly after facing fan backlash. Unlike EA's ad, however, the one in NBA 2K21 is considerably longer and requires players to watch till the end before they can edit their lineups.

Gamers, understandably annoyed by this experience, can always disapprove by voting with their wallets, but NBA fans looking for a modern basketball game with their favorite players have no other option besides putting up with 2K's cash grab tactics in NBA 2K21.

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Posts: 951   +1,326
TechSpot Elite
Why anyone would play the same sports game from 2005 with iPhone-esque incremental updates while still paying full price is beyond me. Go out and play the game, you’ll save lots of money.


Posts: 98   +139
Man if this ever happened in a game I played, I'd return that game immediately, and pirate anything that dev ever released in the future. If a business doesn't think I deserve an add free product if I pay for it outright, then they clearly don't deserve to be paid.


Posts: 49   +66
Double Whammy. Sixty dollars for a reskinned game and then to be served ads. What type of experience is this?


Posts: 49   +66
For everyone here saying they would either skip it, or return it immediately.....that's pretty much why they waited over a month after release to patch the commercials in.


Posts: 2,446   +3,596
I don't think Ubisoft is a bad/greedy business as much as one that just constantly misses the mark.
Ubisoft has been publishing the same games with progressively more grindy mechanics and microtransactions for years, was a pioneer in screweing over consumers with always online DRM with uplay, and is just as involved with the "identify anything we/the mob dont like as right wing/racism/phobia/sexist/buzzword and ban it because reasons" crowd as EA and Sony.

They are JUST as bad as the others.


Posts: 102   +117
Imagine paying $60 for trash from 2001 and having to watch ads, that's almost like... paying for cable and having to.. watch ads..

I do wonder what possesses someone to buy a sports game instead of actually playing sports, its like watching multi millionaires kick a football on a pitch. Now, if they complain about piracy, they're dumb af lol


Posts: 487   +476
The NBA is garbage, most certainly the decision was driven by them charging huge fees and/or royalties. 2020 has seen a precipitous decline in NBA viewers and support. Bending over backwards for political purposes has nearly sunk their crappy ship and the majority of intelligent fans have fled.


Posts: 95   +66
This is the gaming industry pushing their luck.

Things are normalized because the public let it. Remember when games were released without too many bugs? Save me the excuse of games are bigger now, it is because they can do day 1 updates. MT, same thing.

When a game series is locked in as a something that's important in digital socializing, devs try to milk it more.


Posts: 235   +222
When you sacrifice the quality of the user experience for some short term add revenue it's only the start of the decline. This is the kind of thing that's pushed me any from many apps on my phone that started off great and slowly got more and more cumbersome with adds. These are apps I no longer use.

Steve Lalancette

Posts: 23   +18
The publisher must be thinking their game is unskippable. Only the end users can prove them wrong, by skipping on the game altogether.
They think this because the gamers buy these sport games in millions.
2k and EA are smart to do that and gamers... Let's say that they don't care much


Posts: 25   +57
While I don't play any sport games, and while I absolutely against piracy, THIS is a good reason to pirate a game in my opinion... if the initial sum of money the company is asking for the product isn't enough, then charge more... still not enough? you should re-think your business plan. I really hope this move will fail miserably (although I doubt it, bc a specific type of people buy this kind of games).


Posts: 2,849   +575
Staff member
It negatively impacted players' experiences in a "way they didn't intend," so of course they'll need to fix it so it negatively impacts players' experiences in a way they DO intend. Hats off.


Posts: 2,394   +943
The NBA is garbage, most certainly the decision was driven by them charging huge fees and/or royalties. 2020 has seen a precipitous decline in NBA viewers and support. Bending over backwards for political purposes has nearly sunk their crappy ship and the majority of intelligent fans have fled.
Hear Hear!!!!!