Microtransactions are part of gaming and they’re here to stay. As a gamer, I can accept that. Gaming is a business and developers deserve to be compensated for their work. Sometimes, game companies offer things like season passes, additional map packs, and other little tidbits as downloadable content (DLC) in order to generate money. This, I understand. What I can’t understand, however, are developers removing functionality of games and then locking it behind a pay-wall. As it stands, I have a bone to pick with the makers of 2K14 and basing the entire game on it’s Virtual Coin (VC) system.
I’d like to make a few caveats. Firstly, gaming is a privilege, not a right. Secondly, I don’t have to play video games, I choose to play them. Thirdly, one of the most annoying things of the last generation of gamers is this eerie sense of entitlement. I’m not one of those people. So when I tell you I have a huge issue with the VC system in 2K14 on the PS4, this isn’t just another gamer crying about what developers are doing. This is a person who is fan of the industry calling out 2K as a company for trying to get over on gamers. Let me take you through the scene.
So yesterday, I’m on my couch and I decide to play through the “My Career” mode. I decided I wanted to customize my player. I go to the edit my player and noticed that tattoos are an option. Scrolling to the tattoo section I realize there’s only one tattoo available. I’m thinking, “well they’re probably going to update the game to fill in the rest since it’s a brand new version on a brand new system.” Fine. No tats. I wanted to add some shooting sleeves, a headband, and other accessories to fill my character out and realized none of these are available from the “My Career” screen either. Exasperated, I backed out to the first screen and saw another menu I have to go to, to get the stuff I was looking for. And that’s when I got angry.
Playing in “My Career” mode, I understand the reasoning for locking things behind this system. The mode would be no fun if I had access to all the skills and special moves at the outset. While I don’t agree with having to spend VC to change my jump shot, a layup/dunk package, or celebrations, if that’s what 2K wanted to do then that’s their prerogative. Know what I don’t understand? Why I need VC to buy tattoos, headbands, wristbands, shooting sleeves, finger tape, or anything of the sort. All of the aforementioned items were standard (re: FREE) fare as recent as 2K11/2K12 and now it’s locked behind a pay-wall. My irritation is rose to higher levels, but still, it’s a design decision. 2K wants the player to earn everything to have access to on the game? Fine. I’ll probably waste 100 hours of playtime anyway, so no big deal right? Wrong.
Here’s where things get messy. The cost of the things I wanted to buy and the amount of coins 2K dishes out are clearly done to make you purchase additional VC. Yes, you can buy VC from the PSN store. VC amounts are anywhere from 5,000 to 80,000 VC points and cost anywhere from $1.99 all the way up to $19.99. So if I wanted a pair of Jordans (7,500 VC), a tattoo, shooting sleeves and socks, we’re talking about at least $10 extra to be spent or an untold amount of hours in-game playing time.
Moving over to My GM mode, the amount of things locked behind the pay-wall in THIS mode are criminal. The mode tasks you with being a GM of an entire organization. Not unlike a similar “owner” mode found in Maddens from two generations ago, the player is in charge of ticket/parking/concessions prices, advertising, trades, hiring staff, etc. Instead of tying all of this stuff to the ability of the player, all of the skills are stuck behind the VC system. Want to change your lineups? You need to pay VC. Want to change concession stand prices? There’s VC again. Want to hire/fire a trainer? Negotiate a trade? Have better luck with a free agent? All of these things need VC. At this point, I have to wonder if I actually bought a basketball game or did I spend $60 as an entry fee? I hate to seem like I’m complaining, but this is a weak way to do business.
In conclusion, I love the 2K series. I understand gaming is a business. I understand people have to make money. More importantly, I understand the thought process. 2K is likely thinking, “we can do whatever the hell he want with this game because, there isn’t an alternative. What else are they going to play? NBA Live?” I get it, but I don’t like it. The best way I can speak is with my money and while I’m only one person, 2K can be damned sure that if they don’t fix this on the next go round, they won’t be getting any more of my money.