Two years ago, the president of the publishing company over the NBA 2K series said they don’t view the card packs and loot boxes it offers as gambling. You wouldn’t know it after watching this remarkably tone-deaf trailer for NBA 2K20 that 2K Sports put out on Monday.
Touting the feature set for MyTeam, the basketball behemoth’s version of Ultimate Team, 2K Sports put out a video that literally depicts pachinko and slot machines. NBA 2K streamers CashNasty and Kris “LSK” London excitedly open packs of virtual cards, pull slot machine levers and, in Cash’s case, deploy obscene amounts of body english to guide a ball drop into a big-paying bucket. If that’s not enough, there’s a good old-fashioned prize-wheel spin, too.
Some of this stuff isn’t new; the special card packs shown being opened have been the basis of MyTeam since it was introduced in NBA 2K13. The prize wheel has been around in various forms before, including in the associated MyPark/MyCareer mode.
Some of what’s in this trailer is sort of new. The ball drop was added to the game last year. The slot machine belongs to the Triple Threat game type that also debuted with NBA 2K19.
So, there’s some built-in tolerance for the way MyTeam and MyCareer have doled out rewards over the years. If you want to know why fan reaction is now negative — side-eyed at best — here’s the MyTeam promotional trailer from NBA 2K19. It features more gameplay and basketball action, and fewer YouTube influencers cheering like they’re at a Caesar’s Palace craps table.
NBA 2K20’s new trailer is, basically, just more in-your-face about it, and definitely portrays three-in-a-row on a slot machine as this mode’s idea of excitement and fun. That may land it in some kind of congressional hearing next year, if Sen. Josh Hawley can move a bill banning exactly these kinds of things.
NBA 2K20’s free demo went live (for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch) one week ago. MyTeam isn’t a part of its offerings; players get six games to explore the MyCareer mode and the new MyPlayer Builder, but that progress will not carry into the main game, which launches on Sept. 6 on those three consoles plus Windows PC.