Big quote: "VC is an unfortunate reality of modern gaming. Every game, at some point, in some way has currency and they’re trying to get additional revenue from each player that plays the game." — Rob Jones, senior producer NBA 2K19
When NBA 2K18 launched last year, it received mostly positive reviews. The one complaint that critics and users seemed to have was the sheer number of microtransactions being pushed.
“Microtransactions are everywhere, and trying to advance without them feels nearly impossible,” said GameSpot in its review.
Not that this is a big surprise for any game affiliated with EA, but NBA 2K18 really felt like a pay-to-win title. The grind for VC (the in-game currency) was so long that many players felt that microtransactions were the only option to advancement.
Now with NBA 2K19 coming up in less than a week, Trusted Reviews got a chance to talk with 2K Sports' Senior Producer Rob Jones about the issue. Perhaps not surprisingly, Jones placed the blame for microtransactions on literally every other game producer in the industry.
“VC is an unfortunate reality of modern gaming,” said Jones. “Every game, at some point, in some way has currency and they’re trying to get additional revenue from each player that plays the game. You know, the question has to be when does it feel like it’s a straight money grab versus when does it feel like it’s value added, right?”
He also places blame on the impatience of the typical player, saying that most of them do not want to work to advance in the game.
“We know nowadays that most people don’t have the patience to work their way to the top. They just wanna be there right away. So, you know, we look at it as, oh it’s an opportunity for us to allow you to skip the grind, but then if the grind is too long, like some people felt last year, they’re gonna sit there and they’re gonna go ‘well, you knew the grind was too long to begin with.’”
An early release of the game and the demo seems to show that 2K Games has tweaked the progression system to address fan feedback. The sense of reward is increased, and there are other ways to earn VC in a more natural way than just grinding.
“We’re hoping that by rewarding you more that, A: you won’t need to go in and get as many things [VC] and B: you won’t feel like you know, ‘oh this is how they’re getting me.’ You can now participate in other things to get what you want,” Jones said. “I think the biggest problem last year was not knowing where you were going. A lot of the time you wasted VC that you had earned on things that weren’t necessary.”
According to Jones, the design team approached VC with the attitude of giving players a choice rather than forcing them to grind. With more ways to earn VC, players will feel less obligated to make purchases with the option still being there.
But that is still pay-to-win, isn't it? I guess we will see when NBA 2K19 launches for PS4, XB1, PC, and Switch on September 11.