A new trailer for NBA 2K20's MyTeam game mode has been criticized for its heavy use of gambling mechanics. The video, released today, features slot machines, loot box style card pack openings, and other mechanics that have been compared to casino games.
In the one minute and 48 second long NBA 2K20 MyTeam trailer, there are six different mechanics that offer random loot drops that could be compared to gambling. There are card packs, a "Triple Threat" system where players could potentially win "jackpot prizes," the ability to trade tokens for rewards, a game that looks like Pachinko, the Japanese gambling machine, a slot machine where players can spin the reels for prizes, and a roulette style spinning wheel that also provides players with prizes.
The NBA 2K fan community and gamers as a whole have been quick to slam developer Visual Concepts and publisher 2K for the video and for the way that NBA 2K20 will be monetized. The UK version of the trailer has 1.4K dislikes compared to 74 likes, which is a horrendous margin on a video that has less than 7,000 views. Viewers of the US version of the video were kinder, with 3.3K likes to 449 dislikes, but responses under the video rip the trailer to shreds.
"This looks and sounds like I'm watching a Casino add [sic]," says one response with 487 likes, and a response that said "Damn disguising a gambling game as basketball to kids" had 274 likes. Another response also asked if NBA 2K20 is just "ultimate gambling simulator 2020" in disguise.
This isn't the first time that a game published by 2K, or a game in the NBA 2K series, has been slammed for its business model. In 2017, NBA 2K18's microtransactions were changed after players rioted over the high price of hairstyles and hair coloring in the game's MyNeighborhood game mode. For years, the series has been dogged by criticism that the game feels pay to win, is aggressive in pushing them to spend money on Virtual Currency, and the randomness of card packs.
This has been incredibly lucrative for 2K, but some may wonder if the overt gambling style mechanics seen in the NBA 2K20 MyTeam trailer could spell trouble. 2K has had to remove loot boxes from NBA 2K19 because of Belgian legislation and anti-loot box legislation could be on the cards in the United States too. It's unclear whether the legislative landscape will prompt 2K to change NBA 2K20 before its release, but the backlash does show that fans, if not legislators, aren't happy.
NBA 2K20 will be released on September 6, 2019 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.