The senior producer of NBA 2K19 believes that microtransactions are “an unfortunate reality of modern gaming.” Rob Jones discussed the recent changes to loot boxes and gambling mechanics in games, as well as the plans the company has for the future of their games.
Speaking with Trusted Reviews, Jones had the following “argument” to make his statements justified: “every game, at some point, in some way has currency and they’re trying to get additional revenue from each player that plays the game. You know, the question has to be ‘when does it feel like it’s a straight money grab versus when does it feel like it’s value added,’ right?”
Now this statement wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the other actions and statements by the company further souring relationships with gamers. I mean it is true that some gamers will want to pay their way onto the top of the mountain in terms of in-game competitiveness. And even though this framing ignores the fact that it’s a conscious choice by publishers to choose to design games this way. After all, games are expensive to make, and those involved have to make money back somehow. The reality remains that even though the choice to compromise rewarding gameplay experiences over railroading players into microtransactions is possible to justify, it’s still scummy. In reality, it’s a hole that the games industry has dug itself into, and a hole that 2K seems to want to bury themselves in. Although instead of filling it with slime and dirt, it looks like the company wants to be suffocated with cash.
After Belgian regulatory agencies issued a decree classifying loot boxes as gambling, many developers and publishers hurried to remove the content from their games, 2K took the dive and removed VC-related card packs from their sports games that were available in the region as well. Now whatever your opinion on whether these card packs constitute gambling, something the ESRB disputes, the law is pretty clear. Because real-world currency is involved, and the items have a real-world value, involving them in a game of chance makes it gambling under the letter of the law.
And despite all of this, 2K issued a statement asking players to put pressure on the authorities to allow them to put paid packs and similar loot box mechanics back into their games. Needless to say, but this didn’t illicit a positive reaction from some players, who saw it as a greedy move that used players as pawns.
So it would seem that whatever your opinion on loot boxes and card packs in games, 2K is pretty firm on wanting more of it in their games. After all, who would turn down the money fire hose that is microtransactions that have billions of dollars in revenue potential? Someone with morals might, but those waved bye-bye to the games industry a long time ago, at least when it comes to AAA publishers.
What’s your take? Let us know in the comments.