It's no secret that many triple-A gaming studios are built upon the backs of monetary gain. A majority of them run under a capitalistic structure, and companies need to make money, it makes sense that financial gain is in their best interest. But, that doesn't always need to be at the expense of consumers, who it seems 2K Games can easily ignore in the hunt for more profits. It's literally a question on Quora: Why is 2K so greedy? It's a valid question, one that goes far deeper into the darker realms hidden beneath the video game industry.
The Fans Just Kind Of Take It
A lot of it has to do with meeting expectations, and 2K answers to Take-Two Interactive, its parent company. Expressly showcased in more recent publicity for NBA 2K20, which not only features gambling and slot machines but propagates it as one of the game's most stellar new MyTEAM mechanics, 2K has always made money the most important part of its titles. This isn't the first time, and certainly won't be the last time 2K outs its own greedy gamer tricks in such a way, without even noticing (or caring) about the repercussions that may follow.
The unfortunate fact about NBA 2K is that this greedy in-game manipulation has been an ongoing occurrence for some time, whether it be the controversy of literal commercials before playing online games or the expensive dollar signs associated with acquiring big-name players. Pointed out by buddhaballer on Reddit nearly a year ago, stealth nerfs and 2K greed have become cumbersome even for the community, as similar games' balancing practices never once deal directly with real-world spent cash. As gleaned by most comments on the NBA 2K subreddit, the majority of the community simply goes along with it because they love the series that much and don't really have the choice to care.
It isn't simply NBA 2K, though, as represented so clearly by the downward spiral of WWE 2K. Even with the introduction of "fictional realms," there's very little (if any) hype for WWE video games. The last time any gargantuan WWE 2K game hype ever surfaced was when the PlayStation 2 was the top system. Discussing how the state of WWE 2K is hurting, one GameFaqs user describes the ultimate betrayal they felt in the aftermath of 2K18's cheat system and greedy consumption practices. Since then, it's only worsened, and the hope for WWE 2K20 is slim to none.
2K Is All About The Shady Deals
There's also the fact that 2K has actively begged governments for the right to have microtransactions and loot boxes in its games. With an extremely high likelihood that the anti-loot box bill will hurt sports gaming, it isn't surprising to see both 2K and EA defending their in-game monetary practices. At least EA has begun to eliminate them and is moving in the right direction, whereas 2K has only grown shadier with each new title.
Is there a reason you are refusing to address the Ratings disparity and violation of your own rules/descriptors for the Simulated Gambling within NBA2K20? @ESRBRatings This is not a E for Everyone game, its at minimum T for Teen by your own guidelines, perhaps even an M rating. pic.twitter.com/s4LEygbO66— Joe Vargas (@AngryJoeShow) August 30, 2019
Look no further than Borderlands 3, which has been acquired by Epic Games Store for an exclusive release, to see more of 2K's not-so-subtle greed. It's no secret that Epic gives out far larger paychecks than Steam or other game stores, but there's also the fact that the series' prior two games are located on Steam. What about the fans? That's exactly the point, 2K ignoring the fanbase in light of extra profits. It's like 2K are a band of pirates; each game is their new point of anchor before they sail toward a new, more promising launch.
There's a limited number of 2K single-player games anymore, with the exception of Rockstar titles and the unfortunate Mafia III, which didn't receive the praise it deserved (for both gameplay and soundtrack). In his article on the devastation that is Mafia III and its 2K overlords, Jason Shrier had this to say:
"Throughout all of my interviews with those familiar with the company, there’s been one common thread: Everyone had hoped for more. After Mafia III, both fans and the staff of Hangar 13 were thrilled to see what would come next. Now, there are nothing but questions, and a studio that looks far different than it did just a year ago."
Sad as this tale is, the fact remains that 2K has been doing this for quite some time. Not just dropping individual employees without a word, but also simply dropping franchises into oblivion. All of this evidence piles up extraordinarily to make them look far worse than EA, yet for some odd reason, it's as if no one notices—or cares.
Vote With Your Wallets
I will give 2K applause for allowing a cancer patient to play Borderlands 3 early, but it does not justify its many greedy practices. I haven't even started bellyaching about the various microtransactions in GTA Online. Yes, there are plenty of ways to make money in the game (there's even a freaking casino now!), but it's a serious grind and takes lots of time. It's far simpler to pay $20 so you can finally afford that overpriced Lambo truck with all the added bling, neon lights, and armor upgrades than to spend hours doing laborious missions for little to no cash.
Similarly, these sports games only profiteer off these microtransactions much more frequently and easily, especially when you take into account the fact that GTA is M rated, whereas NBA 2K can be played by anyone. It's about time someone said something or did something—if there's anything that can be done other than spreading awareness of these shady business practices. Protesting video game greed may not do much, but at least gamers will think before buying the title or buying into its monetary practices.
Unfortunately, nothing in-game will change.