The digital age of gaming has brought about a number of changes to the industry for the better. We've seen games steeply discounted on services like Steam in a manner that would be financially irresponsible to do with physical copies of games being sold by brick and mortar stores. We've also seen the rise of indie gaming, as the digital platform allows developers to skip past any need for a publisher, resulting in very unique and innovative experiences.
Digital gaming has also made the hobby itself more convenient in many ways, especially when it comes to being able to switch between titles on the fly without having to get up and switch discs or cartridges. Possibly the most crucial benefit of the digital age is online gaming, as players from all around the world are able to connect to each other to interact and play games. However, all of this convenience comes at a price, as fans of NBA 2K14 found out last week.
On March 31st, 2K Sports shut down online support for NBA 2K14. The game itself released in November of 2013, meaning that the servers were only online for 16 months total. With the servers being shut down, this meant that access to online multiplayer features in NBA 2K14 was made impossible across all versions of the game; however, the consequences were even more drastic for those playing the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
The problem is exacerbated with the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game because some of the single-player content in NBA 2K14 is tied to the online servers through a "check-in" process. This means that the career mode in the game, an experience that can be typically enjoyed entirely offline, still requires an online check-in before players are able to access it. Not only that, but using the in-game economy also requires a check-in.
Gamers were understandably outraged at the inability to access their saves following the server shutdowns, especially since 2K had initially promised that the saves would be converted to accessible offline versions after the server shutdown took place. Of course, this isn't what happened, and a multitude of NBA 2K14 fans began lobbying complaints at 2K Sports. 2K Sports responded by saying that the players and general managers whose careers were abruptly ended by the server shutdowns had been "retired" - a response that did not sit well with the fan base.
Following more outrage, 2K Sports finally decided to reactivate the online servers for the game. A representative from 2K said, "Beginning today, we are extending the support of all NBA 2K servers from 18 to 27 months following each release, giving our players more time to experience and enjoy the highest rated NBA simulation video game franchise."
A maximum of 27 months of server support equates to just over two years, which seems like an extremely short time to support a game, especially with the prevalence of the used game market and the many people that wait months for price drops before purchasing new games. EA Sports is also known for shutting down servers for its sports games, but it waits much longer, as players can still play sports titles such as Madden NFL 12 online four years after the game's release in August of 2011.
The digital, online age of gaming is exciting and has introduced a number of new conveniences and improvements to the gaming experience as a whole, but it also brings to the table its fair share of headaches, as dedicated NBA 2K14 players can attest. Hopefully 2K Sports is able to improve their online services with the NBA 2K series and all of their titles moving forward, and maybe their rumored partnership with Microsoft on a new football game will help them do so.
NBA 2K14 is available on Android, iOS, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.