NBA 2K18 is easily the best-selling installment in the franchise's long history, but it has not been quite so overwhelming a success when it comes to player sentiment. The game's approach to its virtual currency microtransactions in particular bothered a number of reviewers, and has become a point for the developers to grapple with as they promote this week's launch of NBA 2K19.
Speaking with Trusted Reviews at a recent preview event, NBA 2K19 senior producer Rob Jones addressed the subject, telling the site that virtual currency is "an unfortunate reality of modern gaming."
"Every game, at some point, in some way has currency and they're trying to get additional revenue from each player that plays the game. You know, the question has to be when does it feel like it's a straight money grab versus when does it feel like it's value added, right?"
At the risk of stating the obvious, not every game has additional revenue models. However, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick has said he wants to have recurrent consumer spending in all of the company's games, which would include those of the 2K division that publishes NBA 2K19.
"We know nowadays that most people don't have the patience to work their way to the top," Jones said. "They just wanna be there right away. So, you know, we look at it as, oh it's an opportunity for us to allow you to skip the grind, but then if the grind is too long, like some people felt last year, they're gonna sit there and they're gonna go 'well, you knew the grind was too long to begin with.'"
Jones said for this year's game, the developers didn't want players to feel like they were being taken advantage of, and to give players other ways to obtain in-game items that didn't require virtual currency.