bad video game releases illustration by simon wang
2KGames have been publishing substandard titles the past few years. The best way to get your voice heard is to quit buying their titles. (Illustration by Simon Wang, Case Western Reserve University)

2019 Is the Year of Awful Annual Video Game Releases From 2K Games

Games like ‘NBA 2K20’ and ‘WWE 2K20’ are pursuing profit at the expense of actual, quality gameplay.

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bad video game releases illustration by simon wang

Games like ‘NBA 2K20’ and ‘WWE 2K20’ are pursuing profit at the expense of actual, quality gameplay.

Around the fall of each year, gamers can expect to see video game releases from familiar franchises such as “Call of Duty,” “FIFA” and “NBA 2K.” The idea of annual video game releases was seen as a good idea at one point. Gamers would get the same game they want every year and the shareholders of the companies that publish these games would be pleased with the game’s financial success. Now, the only ones who seem to be happy with annual video game releases are the shareholders themselves because the games are not pleasing players. Publisher 2K Games is the embodiment of this.

For an example of this, look no further than “NBA 2K.” The most recent game in the series, “NBA 2K20,” was released in September and caused controversy due to its many glitches and bugs that made the game unplayable. The controversy got so bad that people who purchased the game started the hashtag #fix2k20 to voice their grievances. Another common complaint of the game is its microtransactions — the purchase of a virtual item with real money.

Virtual currency and cosmetic items such as outfits for characters are common types of microtransactions that can be found within “NBA 2K” each year. When microtransactions are implemented into a game, the game is usually designed around them. If a person wants to play through the career mode in “NBA2K20” and upgrade their player’s skills normally, it will take a significantly longer time unless they purchase microtransactions; the developer or publisher often defends this practice by saying that these microtransactions are technically “optional.”

The biggest problem with microtransactions is that they are put into video game releases that cost $60. Usually, microtransactions are used for games that are free-to-play, but “NBA2K20” is a full-priced game that is asking you to pay even more money for things you get for free just by playing the game. After all the outrage on Twitter and the terrible microtransactions, you would think that the game sold poorly right? Well, you would be wrong.

“NBA2K20” was the top selling game in September and the bestselling game of 2019 so far. It seems that most people did not care about playing a game with a lot of glitches, bugs and microtransactions. As long as they got to play their yearly basketball game, they were satisfied, I guess.

I used to be this way at one point when it came to the WWE games. WWE games have been released yearly since 2000. When I was younger, I was absolutely obsessed with buying these games each year until “WWE 2K15.” When “WWE 2K15” was released, it was pretty much the exact same situation as “NBA 2K20,” minus the microtransactions. I was so upset at what I had purchased that I returned the game to GameStop within a week. Months later I had the craving for a wrestling game, and I bought it again. I would later regret this decision.

When “WWE 2K16” came out, I did not buy it right away. I thought it would be smart to wait a few months to buy it so that it would be fixed. This turned out to be a good idea, although the game just ended up being okay. “WWE 2K17” was the final straw for me. I spent almost all of my money on this game and it was a broken and unfinished mess.

Like “WWE 2K15,” I returned it to GameStop within a week. I completely skipped “WWE 2K18” but bought “WWE2K19” while it was on sale for Black Friday and enjoyed it. For the first time in years, I had actually played a WWE game for almost a full year. With “2K19” being pretty good, I thought that next game would be too. It was not.

“WWE 2K20” might just be the worst game in the franchise and I am glad I did not buy it. Why? Well let’s start with the game’s development. One of my biggest complaints with the games has always been the fact that its developer, Yuke’s, never seems to add new features that have been requested by fans.

The president of the game’s developer, Hiromi Furuta, seemed to reference this in an interview when she said, “But right now, looking at the market demands, players are expecting something new every time we release a game and we feel like we haven’t achieved what we’ve really wanted to do. For example, in many cases we’re still using old assets and we’re not able to do some things in the way that we want to.”

A few months later, the developer was dropped by 2K, the game’s publisher. Visual Concepts was chosen as the new developer for the games. This makes sense since they are a studio already owned by 2K, which saves them money compared to hiring Yuke’s each year. This would later prove to be a mistake as the game launched on Oct. 22 to a storm of controversy. Yet again a game with 2K in the title was released in a terrible state leading to the return of a hashtag to voice criticism and even articles criticizing it.

As of Oct. 23, there is no release date for a patch that will fix issues players are having with the game. I just don’t understand how anyone could have bought this game when the warning signs have been present for a while now. There was no real information on what would be in the game until September. Actual gameplay was not shown until a week before release when YouTubers were flown out by 2K to play it.

Those same YouTubers gave their thoughts on what they played, and they were not impressed at all. Nearly every video I watched mentioned that the game was disappointing. Unlike “NBA 2K,” “WWE 2K” games have been losing sales each year. The first week sales numbers have gone from 577,195 to 364,738 in just four years. Even with all of this controversy and criticism, I don’t think anything will change about the games except for 2K no longer making them when their deal with WWE ends.

Within a month, 2K managed to publish not one but two broken video games that were not prepared for launch. They will continue to do so unless gamers who buy these games speak with their wallets and choose not to buy them each year.

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