Game, Pass

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asmo917

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Edited By asmo917

In March of 2020, NBA 2k20 was added to Xbox’s Game Pass service. In hindsight, this is ironic timing as March of 2020 was also the month COVID-19 exploded in the United States. One of the early regional events was an outbreak of the disease at a nursing community near my home of Seattle, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say the country really took notice of the disease, its spread, and its seriousness only after Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive and suddenly games were postponed and cancelled.

I was fortunate in that my job was not seriously affected; I had some travel cancelled but the work remained. Still subject to lockdown or shelter-in-place orders, I had time on my hands. Animal Crossing took up plenty of that time, but I was looking for a new game. Long disillusioned with the NHL series, I decided to give NBA 2k20 a shot. I’m not the biggest basketball fan but I could recognize most players’ names and teams...or a team that had played for recently at least. Plus, I was I intrigued by “MyTeam,” the mode that let you mix and match a team of current and former stars - provided you could acquire their cards via in-game challenges, an auction house system, or by the luck of the loot box.

Throughout the NBA’s pause and eventual return, I played a lot of NBA 2k20, and I spent even more money on it than I invested time. I want to be clear about something: I have a good job, I have disposable income, and I don’t spend beyond my means. But money that would previously go to dinner with friends? A trip to visit family? Dry cleaning (It was clear we weren’t going to be working in offices or around others ANYTIME soon)? Buy a couple boxes of digital basketball cards - chase the guys you remembered from when you were a teenager, chase the players you’d come to know from a new interest in the game, or put together the Celtics Big 3 you used to watch with your dad - no, not KG, Allen, and Pierce, the originals of Bird, McHale, and Parrish.

I acquired a LOT of digital basketball cards.

Like every sports title, the season wound down after the NBA’s bubble return, and content for 2k20 stopped in anticipation of NBA 2k21. The new title brought a new concept, cribbed from other sports Ultimate Team modes, known as “seasons.” 6 weeks of timed content. Bite-sized breakdowns really of the chase for the best cards, facilitated by daily and weekly and season-long XP challenges. I liked the sound of fresh, regular content and shorter term goals to work towards. Plus, NBA 2k21 was a next gen launch title when those were few and far between.

The game launched, and I was back in my hamster wheel of buying packs, trying cards, and grinding XP for questionable digital rewards. As a mostly offline player, some things were flatly not available to me, and others seemed out of reach. Seasons 1 and 2 continued this way, but with Season 3 I felt like if I dedicated myself, I could earn the season’s ultimate reward, a “galaxy opal” tier Dwayne Wade for future use. I grinded, and grinded, and grinded. I played modes I didn’t enjoy when there were rewards for doing so that didn’t require winning. I added Dwayne Wade (a player it should be noted I had no historical or emotional connection to) to my squad. And a few days later...it started again. The season 4 chase would be for Kawhi Leonard, another great card built a player I had no connection to historically or emotionally.

I did it again. For 6 weeks. I didn’t enjoy playing digital basketball for...the last two? Maybe three of those weeks?

So when Season 5 started, I read the dev blog with all the news of what was new; there are always new players beyond just the season end goal. And I just decided I was done. No more packs, no more daily or weekend-specific XP challenges. No more playing a few games while listening to podcasts to kill some time and earn the next card. I’d like to say I’d have come to the conclusion I did no matter what, but a high-level Larry Bird (my dad’s favorite player) might have broken my resolve. But I walked away.

I’ve been happier playing in the sandboxes of Hitman 3, testing out the Bravely Default 2 demo before this weekend’s launch, and downloaded the Control Ultimate Edition as part of PS Plus. I don’t know if there’s a broader lesson to be learned here - the addictive qualities of loot boxes are well established and not even the major takeaway here - but I know what I’m taking from it personally. Life is too short and, even in a pandemic, free time too limited to waste on games that you’re not truly enjoying. I hope I can remember this the next time I start to think “I’m just not digging this as much as I used to.”

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Nodima

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Basketball is my favorite sport. Until three years ago, baseball was a sport I hadn't paid any attention to at all since I was around 11 years old.

Diamond Dynasty is my favorite game mode of any video game perhaps ever, while MyTeam turned me off NBA 2K completely. It exposed all the flaws I'd been able to gloss over from ESPN NBA 2K5 through NBA 2K17 in its on court product regardless, but also exposed Visual Concepts as something other than the studio that crushed NBA Live under its thumb once upon a time.

MyTeam is an absolute joke I once spent $300 on in a single fall just to feel like I was pulling decent cards while Diamond Dynasty is a game mode I have played to "completion" (every live series card collected, every monthly program completed up to its final set of cards) without spending an additional penny beyond the Digital Deluxe I buy mostly as an appreciation for their customer-first approach.

I feel like I post a rant about this two or three times as long four or five times a year on these forums so I'm going to pull up with the hesi from 16 feet and pass it back to you, but I'm sorry MyTeam ruined basketball video games for another duder. This franchise used to be so fucking good, and if their card collection mode were even semi-competent they would have probably ensnared me to the point I never played another video game ever again.

Fortunately, I guess, all they care about is the sharks, and I refuse to be hunted.

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bigsocrates

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Glad you duders were able to pull yourselves free from the pernicious trap.

These micros are designed to start fun and then get just unfun enough that you spend money chasing the high. They're made the same way that gambling machines are, to keep you paying and playing, not to provide fun and value.

Even people who make good money can find themselves throwing unaffordable amounts into the endless pit.

I used to love the NBA 2K series and now I won't even play it for free.

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asmo917

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@nodima: Diamond Dynasty rules. I got into it the year they introduced "memorabilia,' which that community seems to think was their biggest misstep ever, and I've still had a blast with it. I feel like that entire mode respects my time, money, and desire to play how I want. HAving dabbled in MyTeam, Madden's MUT, and NHL HUT over the years, it's the only one I genuinely want to stick with.

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Nodima

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@bigsocrates: If there was any positive to take from my experience with MyTeam, it forever discouraged me from anything remotely resembling that system. I really enjoyed Apex Legends and Genshin Impact, and put a little money is as a kind of "thank you" for 100+ hours of good times (2 battle passes for AL, 1 for Genshin), but I was never tempted to spend real money there or in Destiny 2. I spend a good 1-3 hours a night 3-5 nights a week talking basketball during NBA season, it's one of my primary hobbies and friend group subjects. I figured if I couldn't get any enjoyment out of spending money on a video game that directly relates to one of my biggest passions in life, I could easily imagine how shitty I'd ultimately feel to spend real money elsewhere.

So I thank 2K for that, I suppose.

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imunbeatable80

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In theory i like these modes, because its taking a scrappy team of bad cards (to start) and eventually turning your team into a powerhouse. I can just never get into the grind (or money spend) to get the payoffs others do. Sounds like you are done with nba, but my advice is to just do a fantasy draft with legend players added into the pool. Then you can still attempt to build a great team from players through the nba without the grind or money commitment, thats what i always end up doing.

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Shindig

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#6 Shindig  Online

Thing is, I get the scrappy underdog story from other modes. Legends have their appeal, though. That's the one thing that keeps me looking at Pro Evolution Soccer's MyClub stuff.

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#7  Edited By thefizz

I played a lot of NBA 2K14, 2K16, 2K17. I thought 2K18 was too egregious with the microtransactions in Myplayer and Myteam so I just dropped the series. Haven't been back and won't be until they stop chasing the cash cow and go back to developing a good basketball game without all the hooks in it.

I feel like they haven't really innovated in the actual playing of the game in many installments. Just the bells and whistles around the edges to get you to spend more money.

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#8  Edited By Alias

@shindig: Yeah at a certain point winning every match is boring and playing the underdog against awful odds is kinda fun. The best season in a FIFA game I ever had was when played on hard and chose a division 2 team that barely survived relegation the previous season. Somehow we managed to luck our way through draws against terrible teams and penalties in the last minute to the FA cup final against Chelsea where after a rollercoaster 70 minutes we fell apart and lost ended up losing 4-1.

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Onemanarmyy

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If you enjoy nurturing a bunch of scrappy useless underdogs to an absolute powerhouse, Football Manager is a fairly cheap (but very timeconsuming) way to get that experience.

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asmo917

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I woke up this morning to see that NBA 2k21 is going to be on Game Pass, starting tomorrow. LOL for timing, huh?