NBA 2K20 was released today, and it has taken a big step forward compared to its predecessor. However, it is not without its faults. One mechanic in particular has drawn controversy: The MyTEAM slot machines.
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The concept of pay-to-win is something which has infuriated 2K fans for years. To compete at the top of the game, purchasing virtual currency was pretty much a necessity. So in order to try and nullify this as much as possible, 2K have introduced a new feature into their MyTEAM game mode: Casino slots.
To try and reward those who play the game, there is a new prize system in place, with prizes awarded for winning games, completing preset challenges and even for just logging into your account.
The issue? These mini-games strongly resemble that of an online casino. There’s a ball drop game, a spinning wheel and even a slot machine.
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In a time when underage gambling is at an all-time high, it is staggering to think that the team at 2K Sports thought this would be a good idea. Look at rivals EA Sports’ FIFA Ultimate Team. There has been plenty in the press in recent months about how their pack system is promoting gambling, with Belgium banning FIFA points completely as a result.
How has the industry responded?
Complaints have been made to European video game rating organisation PEGI, who deemed it unnecessary to put an age restriction on the game, stating:
“A video game gets the gambling content descriptor if it contains moving images that encourage and/or teach the use of games of chance that are played/carried out as a traditional means of gambling.”
Now this just isn’t true. To say that the trailer in question doesn’t encourage games of chance is simply incorrect.
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When you spin the wheel or roll the slot machine, whilst you may always win a prize of some capacity, the fact that these prizes differ in value means that players will want to keep playing until they win the jackpot.
The trailer that started the whole controversy has since been deleted by the NBA 2K YouTube account, but with the micro-transactions from FIFA Ultimate Team becoming an absolute money-spinner for EA it is no surprise that 2K have tried to incentivize players to stay on MyTEAM and build their squad up through purchases.
Whilst it seems unlikely that 2K implemented this feature deliberately to promote gambling, the fact of the matter is that it absolutely does.
With what I can only imagine is a high percentage under-18 fanbase, something needs to be done quickly in order for 2K to regain their credibility, and perhaps even more importantly avoid the wrath of lawmakers around the world.
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