Yearly basketball franchise NBA 2K20 has brought back unskippable ads. After toying with the idea several months ago in last year’s NBA 2K game, 2K has introduced the ads much earlier this time, only weeks after NBA 2K20’s release.
In the past, ads included products unrelated to NBA or its games, such as the FX show Snowfall. The franchise, which has recently received widespread backlash due to its microtransactions and predatory nature, is no stranger to in-game hyperconsumerism. Companies and their products litter the game from top to bottom, turning whole aspects of the game into thinly-veiled, giant ads themselves, like the Gatorade Training Facility that acts as a gym for players' in-game characters, or, until recently, the Foot Locker store where players bought apparel for their avatars.
As reported by Reddit user u/Boostmiester, the unskippable ad in question is for Converse sneakers and plays while the game loads. What comes as a shock to players is the speed with which 2K is moving things this time. 2K19’s ads came last summer after the game was heavily discounted to $3, perhaps in an attempt to help recoup revenue lost by the price cut. It was a move that was already unpopular then, with players aggrieved by the fact that free-to-play, mobile-style ads had made their way into a game that many paid full price for. What was uncertain at the time was whether the ads were something 2K would keep moving forward or if it was a one-off deal. Now, gamers have an answer.
2K’s recent policies have been downright predatory. With versions of the game costing up to $100, NBA 2K20 encourages players to keep spending money as they play in ways only mobile games come close to matching. This year's entry is notable for having a casino in-game. Screen Rant's review of NBA 2K20 details the pay-to-win ecosystem and how the game feels like a perpetual grind that throws all sorts of gambling-related activities at the player, from card-packs to wheels to limited-time promotions.
When European countries are taking measures against loot boxes and video game gambling, 2K implementing a casino and more gambling modes in NBA 2K20 feels like a direct challenge to the European Union and any other group of nations trying to get between it and its bottom line. 2K has already asked fans to lobby on their behalf so that the company can continue its current practices, and while the issue is still up for debate, NBA 2K20 is trying its best to normalize the greedy behavior of its publisher.
NBA 2K20 is out now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Android.