Oh, 2017, the year of microtransactions and loot boxes. Among other things. What was the worst game for microtransactions in 2017? In my opinion, it was definitely not Battlefront 2; instead, I have a different worst-offender in mind.
If you’ve been following gaming news at all this year, you already know about the craziness that’s gone on around loot boxes and MTX (microtransactions). If you haven’t, then allow me to fill you in.
Basically, almost every “good” AAA game that’s released this year has been absolutely riddled with either loot boxes, microtransactions, or a shameless combination of the two. The latter is actually the most common, believe it or not. For some, this means nothing, but for others it’s a huge problem – especially for those who can’t justify spending double what a game costs just to progress or have the best loot.
EA and Battlefront 2 might have received the most downvoted comment of all time as well as the lowest Metacritic rating for a game, ever. But, EA’s MTX in BF2 pale in comparison to what I’m about to show you.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the game I’ve selected as the absolute worst offender of loot boxes and microtransactions.
What’s the worst game for microtransactions in 2017?
NBA 2k18. Hands down.
I’m a huge basketball fan, I’ve played since I was old enough to dribble a ball and I’ll probably continue playing until I’m too old. That’s to say, I also buy every single basketball game that comes out, or I did right up to NBA 2k18. I can’t imagine I’ll be buying NBA 2K19.
Microtransactions have been in 2K’s sports games for quite a long time now, but they’ve never been as forced as they were in 2017. I would even go as far as saying that 2K was a pioneer of microtransactions, but it’s always felt like an actual convenience add-on, not something you absolutely have to buy to progress.
Then, along came NBA 2k18 and it changed everything. No longer could you progress by playing the game well; nope, now you had to buy your progression or spend upwards of 140 hours grinding just to reach the point where the actual game begins, in MyCareer at least.
The sense of “buy coins to git gud” was through the roof in NBA 2K18. In MyCareer (the most popular game mode) you start at rank 60 like every other NBA 2K, but to actually compete at a level above bench-warmer you have to be at least rank 75. This isn’t even a matter of skill, it’s a matter of being able to earn enough game time to actually play for long enough to score points and earn VC – the virtual currency used in 2K18 to do basically everything.
This is where the MTX come in to play. To progress beyond rank 60, you pretty much have to buy coins. Either that or you have to sacrifice any life you might have to grind for dozens (or hundreds) of hours.
Personally, It’s not even like I don’t like grinding, I used to love playing game after game in the older NBA 2K, but not in 2K18. To me, it seems like all player shots have decreased accuracy and a much lower chance of going in vs AI – I wouldn’t doubt it’s like this to make you think “aww, I suck and need to spend more money on VC to git gud.”
If you reference the VC chart above, you can see the cost of the various VC packs. To reach rank 85, it costs a little more than 200K VC, or more than $60. The $60 pack wont even get you there, you actually have to buy it and at least the $10 pack as well. So, you’re spending $70 on VC just to reach a level that you can actually compete, especially online. That’s on top of the $60-$100+ you already spent on the base game (or Deluxe editions). Basically, I call this pay to progress.
The “pay to progress” mechanic they implemented is bad but it’s not everything. 2K also chopped down the amount of VC you earn in games and significantly decreased the amount you earn from contracts and sponsorships (2 of the best ways to earn VC in previous NBA 2K). Combine that with not being able to sink a layup until you hit rank 75, and you now have an impossible task without spending money – good job, 2K, way to earn that cash!
That’s still not everything, either. Want to customize your character? Be prepared to grind for hours upon hours just to buy a pair of shoes for $2 or ~5000 VC. Want some tattoos? Those will be more VC. Want to change your shirt? More VC. Want to make a new character? Get ready for grinding, or get that wallet out. Want to close the game? That’ll be more VC, please.
Okay, maybe the last one is an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying.
This is all very disappointing because the actual gameplay in NBA 2K18 was a huge upgrade from 2K17 and previous installments. I actually really enjoyed playing it, AFTER I had spent $70+ on VC just so I could evaluate the game. Compare that to 2K17 where you really didn’t have to buy any VC to progress at a reasonable rate. Like I said, very disappointing.
I break down the costs and time required more in an earlier post I did about NBA 2K18’s microtransactions, so if you want more detailed info I’d suggest checking that out. In that post I break down the insane hours required and cover the abysmally low potential earnings.
There’s been a ton of controversy surrounding microtransactions and loot boxes so far this year, but I don’t think NBA 2K18 got nearly the amount of attention it should have. Not when you look at the outrage that Battlefront 2 caused – and Battlefront 2’s MTX and loot boxes weren’t even half as bad as NBA 2K18, in my opinion – and that’s judging BF2 based on 60K (or 40hr of grinding) hero costs.
At least in Battlefront 2 you could kind of progress without spending a dime, but in 2K18 it was absolutely necessary to spend at least $30 extra. To me, that’s insanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that what EA did in BF2 was good, I’m saying that what 2K did in NBA 2K18 was worse.
A lot of you might disagree with me here, but hey, that’s what opinions are for. I sincerely think that NBA 2K18 was the absolute worst offender when it comes to microtransactions in a 2017 game.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comment section!