NBA 2K20 is hitting store shelves very soon, set to bring new tricks and skills to the professional basketball frontrunner. But the series has often found itself mired in talk about its microtransaction and monetization model, and a new trailer for its MyTeam mode doesn't help its case.
In 2018, Take-Two and 2K complied with Netherlands and Belgian legislation requiring them to remove monetized sections of NBA 2K, which the laws constituted as a form of gambling. At the time, 2K wrote that it disagreed with this position.
Yet the new MyTeam trailer for NBA 2K20 prominently features two players excitedly playing what are essentially casino games for player cards. That's really not an exaggeration; there is a slot machine, as well as pachinko and a prize wheel to spin, all in the pursuit of the elusive LeBron card.
Of course, each roll shown is a win and every card is a rare, valued prize. Alongside the glitzy, odds-based games are the card pack openings, another randomized draw.
Considering the ongoing discussion of loot boxes, from introduced legislation to an FTC loot box workshop and companies rallying around disclosure of loot box odds by 2020 at the latest, it's a surprisingly tone-deaf trailer to put out. Take-Two Interactive, which owns 2K, is one of the companies that pledged to disclose its loot box odds over the coming year or so.
In a recent chat with the developers behind 2K, it seems like the team has noticed some of the woes with microtransactions in 2K-particularly the grind to earn VC to level up created athletes-but the answer seems to be speeding it up rather than changing it.
"We've designed the game such that everything like that is supplemental. It's there, it's optional if you want, but everything has to feel natural," Bishop says of VC microtransactions. "It can't be like a mobile game where you eventually hit a paywall. We never hit that in NBA 2K, and I think that's a really important point to drive home."
NBA 2K20 will arrive on September 6 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It'll also have world's hottest man Idris Elba, though Stadia owners will have to wait patiently until November to get their own Elba Experience.