There’s no doubting the NBA 2K series’ success over the last decade. With NBA Live falling off a cliff due to EA’s mismanagement, NBA 2K has dominated the basketball simulation sub-genre. Two years ago 2K Games announced the NBA 2K League. Just like competitors such as the Overwatch League, it’s a franchise-based esports competition.
Unsurprisingly, 2K Games want to expand the league outside of the US. It’s no secret that basketball is a rapidly growing international market. Europe, in particular, has seen a drastic increase in interest over the last 10 years. It’s certainly helped that European superstars like Giannis Antetokoumpo and Dirk Nowitzki have risen to prominence.
The NBA 2K League director, Brendan Donohue, recently commented on an upcoming UK invitational. He had the following to say:
Building on the success of last season’s APAC Invitational, which identified several draft-eligible players from the Asia‑Pacific region, it is important for us to further strengthen our player pool by providing more opportunities for top international players to qualify for the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft.
The idea is to open up the NBA 2K League to none-American players. As a concept, this is fine. Why not try to get international players involved? It can only help to grow the league. However, I don’t think they should be doing any of this. It doesn’t sit right with me.
NBA 2K Is Not eSports Ready
Let’s be frank here, NBA 2K20 is a bad game. Equally, NBA 2K19, 2K18 and 2K17 were all overall poor products. Year after year, developers Visual Concepts have failed to listen to consumer feedback. Meanwhile, social media figures like Ronnie2K constantly lie about game features to unethically inflate sales. Of course, he won’t ever take accountability for doing so.
I put together a piece a while back highlighting the real issues with NBA 2K. Rather than detailing them all again, feel free to check that out. Flaunting these international plans amidst the state of the core games is embarrassing. Not only do they expect us to cough up on microtransactions, but they’re also now trying to get consumers to buy into franchises.
I’m a Utah Jazz fan. Even so, you won’t ever see me wearing a Jazz Gaming jersey. As far as I’m concerned, supporting the NBA 2K League right now means you’re supporting dodgy business practices. I’m not saying the NBA itself is guilt-free but at least customers get exactly what they’re supposed to. With NBA 2K, it’s a complete guess what the final product will end up being. Even the influencers lied leading up to release, with many claiming this was the best 2K in years.
I’ve not even touched on how ill-suited NBA 2K is to eSports in the first place. Competitive teams all run boring 5-out, 3 and D role players who stand still whilst their point guard and center carry them. Pick and roll is a play, but it shouldn’t be the only viable play. Actually, my bad, they run iso every so often too. How exciting.
TL: DR? 2K Games, fix your game and the bullsh*t surrounding it before you try and get me to buy into the NBA 2K League.