Microtransactions and DRM Ruin Another Xbox One Game

Posted Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 09:30 AM PST by

Next-gen 'NBA 2K14' crippled by server issues.

Games like 'Forza 5' and 'SimCity' have gone out of their way to penalize players with punitive money-grubbing versions of unnecessarily connected games that prevent and discourage players from actually playing their $60 games. The latest example in this frustratingly puerile practice is the Xbox One (and PS4) version of 'NBA 2K14.'

Here's a game that when transitioning to the next-gen paltforms did two things right. First, the upgraded visuals can be stunning, if uneven (see player hair or single ball design). Second, the game has an immensely entertaining MyCareer mode, which now features story elements, that pit the newly created rookie against rival Jackson Ellis, and bring to bear the facets of being a good teammate through talks with the GM, teammates, etc. all for an experience that ought to be rewarding.

Unfortunately, while the MyCareer mode is robust enough to bring interest back to the series by adding an interactive narrative to playing the NBA simulation, this single player mode is entrenched firmly in the microtransaction camp. In order to upgrade your player's pathetic stats (even a layup is a questionable proposition) and compete against teams that regularly shoot above 75%, vast amounts of the game's virtual currency is required. This VC is used not only for upgrading the player, but also for buying crummy outfits and shoes, and for the game's other modes. (Universal currency may sound like a simplification but ought to be universally unnecessary when it comes to playing this mode.)

Frankly, while earning VC is fun through in-game challenges (lock this guy down, go on a scoring run), the per game rate is a pittance, and game's iOS app deliver's more VC through its daily lottery. (2K even drops codes on Twitter, but hunting Twitter is not a beloved game feature.)

But rather than belabor the annoyance of what seems like an obviously unnecessary microtransaction system, let me cut to its most gratuitous issue. On the Xbox One and PS4, the presence of VC means that the MyCareer is tied to an online save. As anyone who tried to played 'Grand Theft Auto Online' can tell you, DRM cloud saves mean nothing but misery for users.

This past Saturday, as I was trying to continue the MyCareer mode on the Xbox One (which oddly enough features little to no practice opportunities), the 2K servers crashed and burned, locking players out of their games for the next two days. (Not all of the 'NBA 2K14' online features were down, the option to purchase VC remained.) Despite occasionally saying the problem was fixed, the problems have persisted.

I was able to get into my save today (not once Saturday night or Sunday), but only after the game acted as though I had no save file, seemingly begging me to overwrite my save, and giving multiple inelegant error messages.

It's worth pointing out that playing online seems to offer little for the MyCareer mode. Each game features at least one DNP of the 2013-2014 season in the highlight reel. Whether it's Marcus Camby, Steve Nash, or Derrick Rose, the benefits of an up-to-date roster have eluded this online experience. Likewise, venturing into the Blacktop, where MyCareer players can face off online, has been nothing short of a match-making mess.

Somehow, the 360, PS3, and PC versions have VC but lack the DRM attached to the Xbox One and PS4 versions. As it stands, the dual issue of miserly VC and DRM saves kill the experience of what ought to be a next-gen triumph.

Author: Brian Hoss

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Tags: NBA 2K14 (1 post), 2K Sports, Xbox One (all tags)