Video game companies think you’re an idiot but they love your money

A reader is furious with the microtransactions and gambling in NBA 2K20 and especially with 2K’s attitude towards its fans.

It’s probably not an issue that will get much traction in the UK, but as a NBA fan I’ve been following the fortunes of NBA 2K20 with great interest. If you’re not a fan but have heard of it, it’s probably because of the microtransactions and gambling options which, in my opinion, are the absolute worst of any modern video game. Worse than FIFA, worse than anything Activision has done, and even worse than many mobile games, since NBA 2K20 is not free.

The infuriating thing is that, as GC’s review agreed, it is a great game. One of the best sports games ever and definitely the best basketball sim. And yet it’s filled with so many microtransactions, and such a burning desire to fleece its players, that it’s literally disgusting. You play the game and you can almost see some 2K exec on the other side of the screen hoping you’re an idiot that’s going to start gambling away real money just to unlock some in-game items.

And when I say gambling I mean actual gambling, with slot machines and everything. Even though the cowards at PEGI refused to admit it was real gambling and gave a 3 age rating to it, while saying that it may come ‘too close for comfort for some people’ but that it wasn’t really gambling.

Which of course means 2K knew they could get away with whatever they wanted. So they immediately set about changing the odds in their favour, so that that it’s much harder to earn in-game achievements and much more tempting to pay real money to get it.

I’m obviously trying to be provocative with my title but I believe it’s true. 2K (or any publisher in their position) knew the authorities aren’t going to do anything about it and they were betting that gamers would just roll over and take it too.

They don’t always – they didn’t for Star Wars: Battlefront II and they’re getting pretty angry about Call Of Duty – but sports games, which have the largest proportion of casual gamers, can usually get away with anything. You only have to look at how EA handles FIFA to know that.

Thankfully, in this case the fans did fight back and 2K had to backtrack. The game’s still full of microtransactions and gambling but at least now it’s only as bad as it was at launch. Which is still terrible but at least it hasn’t got worse.

My point is that we have to resist this sort of thing whenever we can. Publishers not only think we’re idiots they think we don’t care enough to complain or do anything about it. Apathy is their ally and shield and yet as we see time and time again when gamers do complain things change.

I’m not talking about death threats and other antisocial behaviour, just complaining on social media and creating or joining groups of other fans to make publishers know they’re not getting away with things.

We’re just walking wallets to them and they haven’t got any interest in our well-being or anything other than the level of addiction of their product. The people making the games are probably just as frustrated as us at microtransactions and you can tell by the quality of the games that they do care about what they’re doing.

This is just the way big business work, I know, but we can fight back against it and when we do it usually works. Because if governments aren’t going to keep video game publishers in line then the fans will have to do it instead.

By reader Zod

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.

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