NBA 2K21 added a new “feature,” well after the reviewers finished their first look at the game. The game now has unskippable ads on its so-called 2KTV. These are not baked-in ads either, as players report political and targeted ad videos.
This move is scummy, considering players pay a full US$60 for the game. Depending on the version you buy, it can even go as much as $100.
The unskippable ads monetization strategy is a staple for free-to-play mobile games. In games like PUBG Mobile, players can get rewards for watching 30-second ads. Many of these rewards, for example, are not worth the 30 seconds players waste.
Even then, mobile games get a ton of money from such a scheme. They hold players hostage for a set amount of time, which means more views for the ad. Ad money is a powerful monetization channel for many studios out there.
2K is somehow doing the same scheme as free-to-play games in a $60 game. In Reddit, players compiled complaints about ads in their NBA video game. It seems these include political ads, but many are likely targeted display ads.
So far, the most prevalent ad is the Oculus Quest 2, another problematic hardware. The adverts are 20 seconds, usually running between loading times on the 2KTV.
2K is doing something ultra-scummy with these forced ads on their game. NBA 2K21 and the franchise as a whole has a declining user base. The focus on microtransactions and monetization turned away many of its players.
The new ads will make the lousy rep even worse. Anyone not turned off by this scheme is likely competitive players or ones dedicated to the franchise. Ads, as annoying as they are so far, are becoming a norm in sports games.
Electronic Arts tried the same unskippable ad scheme for UFC 4. They soon removed this so-called “feature” after a serious backlash from the fanbase. The unskippable ads between rounds were not only annoying but intrusive too.
The ads artificially increased load times. Rather than have the game load faster due to better tech, the game loads slower to work ads in.
Fans would still need to wait and see whether this is the game’s reality in the long-term.
NBA 2K21 is the same old game as previous versions, and the reviews show. It will be available for the next-gen consoles and will even cost more.
If players are willing to shell out $70 and are ok with these ads, then there’s a problem there somewhere.
Featured image courtesy of NBA 2K/YouTube screenshot
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