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NBA 2K20 is a game about playing basketball, but there’s also a surprising number of activities in the game that have nothing to do with throwing a ball through a hoop. 2K Sports already revealed all of the new activities in 2K20’s The Neighbourhood social space, and now a new trailer is showing off all the ways its loot boxes and gambling mechanics work with what resembles an actual casino.
The trailer, which almost feels like a parody, revolves around the card collecting MyTeam mode. By opening card packs you’ll hopefully get rarer and more highly rated players that can even evolve like Pokemon in this year’s game. By racking up wins in the reimagined Triple Threat mode, you can earn in-game currency, more card packs, and a chance to “spin to win!” for various jackpot prizes.
There are also ball drops where you get to watch a pinball fall through a series of pegs, hoping it lands on one of the color-coded platforms on the way down to presumably win some kind of player card. There’s also a literal roulette wheel and a slot machine, just in case the gambling mechanics weren’t already obvious enough. Each of these activities has appeared in the series before in some form or another, but dedicating an entire trailer to cheap games of luck is particularly tone-deaf.
The series has caught plenty of flack in the past for the number of microtransactions featured in both MyTeam and MyCareer. “Microtransactions are everywhere, and trying to advance without them feels nearly impossible,” our review for NBA 2K18 said. The in-game Virtual Currency flowed a little more freely in NBA 2K19, but microtransactions still loomed over everything. 2K even added seemingly unskippable pre-game ads in another move that rubbed some fans the wrong way.
Rather than temper controversy, NBA 2K20 seems to be embracing the contentious business model, which isn’t too surprising considering its microtransactions have proved to be incredibly popular. Whether wheel spins and slot machines constitute gambling or not when no actual money is involved is up for debate. But the result of these randomized games is sure to influence the lure of any available microtransactions if things don’t go your way. Not to mention the game is rated E for Everyone with only one slight mention of in-game purchases. Either way, marketing a game in such a way is more than a little disconcerting.
NBA 2K20 launches on September 6 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. Check out our NBA 2K20 pre-order guide for all the info on pre-order bonuses and what’s included in the Digital Deluxe and Legend editions. You can also download a free demo for NBA 2K20 right now.