2K is struggling! We need to talk about NBA 2K and the problems resulting from it being the only presence in the basketball video game industry. In season 6, we are really seeing the effects of this, as 2K’s decline in innovation is resulting in a low quality game that increases its reliance on microtransactions. This has negatively impacted the player experience, and calls into question the need for competition to finally give us the basketball game we want.
In a competitive market, video game studios must innovate and improve their products and services in order to remain competitive and attract new customers as well as appealing to the existing player base. However, because there has been no competition in the basketball video game industry for the past four years, there has been little pressure to improve because there are no significant rivals to compete with. This results in a lack of innovation, lower quality products, and less investment in research and development. This is what we have seen with NBA 2K23.
NBA 2K is operating in an inefficient market due to this lack of competition, and its effects are shown throughout the game. For example, the costs to play MyCareer have spiked dramatically over the past year. In this mode, it is difficult to obtain Virtual Currency by playing the game, which results in increased microtransaction spending to receive a better experience. In NBA 2K22, it costs around 370,000 Virtual Currency to reach 99 overall, and in NBA 2K23, it costs around 450,000 Virtual Currency to reach 99 overall. To put this in monetary terms, the cost to reach 99 overall in MyCareer has increased from around $80 in NBA 2K22 to around $100 in NBA 2K23, representing a 25% increase.
Maybe 2K is trying to teach us about inflation? Or maybe they are just taking advantage of being the only dominant figure in the basketball video game market.
While it is ridiculous that MyCareer makes players feel the need to spend money on microtransactions in order to compete, it is even worse in the MyTEAM, where spending money doesn’t guarantee any advantage.
The <2% chance to pull a 99 overall “Dark Matter” player is a black hole for players’ wallets. These are considered the best players in the game, and their high value on the market plays back into peoples’ desperation to open packs and hope for a lucky pull. For months, people have complained about the terrible pack odds, so 2K has started to guarantee players by offering a featured player in the pack market each week…
The problem is, all of these featured cards are outdated and overpriced! 2K recently re-released a 96 overall Klay Thompson that can be purchased for 15,000 VC. This is a lazy and greedy showing by 2K, as the card is worth significantly less on the market and has no demand because it is so outdated. 2K gets away with this because they have no competition, so they do not need to urgently respond to the community’s negative feedback about their decisions.
Despite NBA 2K being a popular choice for basketball video game fans, the lack of competition in the market has resulted in a decline in player experience. What can we do to change this? Play a different NBA video game? There hasn’t been a new basketball video game released by a different franchise in almost five years! So, like many of you, we are also stuck playing a recycled game every year. Hopefully a new competitor will enter the market and create some change; otherwise, we will have to expect a similar result next year.