NBA 2K 19 released recently and seeing its overwhelmingly negative reviews on Steam, I ran an article discussing how NBA 2K games haven’t had positive Steam reviews in the last 4 years.
Since all games prior to NBA 2K16 are no longer available on Steam (at least in my region), I went on to Metacritic to see user review scores of NBA 2K15, 2K14, and 2K13. I noticed something odd, the critic review scores and opinions widely differ from user ratings. So fans on Steam and Metacritic hate what NBA 2K games have to offer and complain about a number of things, critic, on the other hand, couldn’t stop praising NBA, and 2K as a developer.
What’s concerning to me is how some of them don’t even mention major issues such as predatory microtransactions and pay-to-win models. These problems are just ignored outright or mentioned is passing.
It becomes daunting clear, at least to me, what was actually going on.
See, 2K is a big company and publications grow by keeping a good relationship with such brands unless you are IGN or GameSpot, the companies won’t come to you with review copies, event invites, exclusive interviews, but most importantly they won’t offer you ad campaign for your websites unless you have a positive opinion about their products.
At least a flexible opinion for their shitty practices is required to get anything out of them. It is partly to blame for this new journalism culture of the modern age in which doing our job often means starving for revenue streams. Take Kotaku as an example, the publications leaked a number of Assassin’s Creed games prior to their announcement, ran a few pieces Bethesda didn’t like and ended up being banned by Ubisoft and Bethesda. Imagine this happening to a smaller publication? Where would it stand?
Of course, NBA games are not all bad as there are many innovative mechanics and amazing graphics. But giving these games an 8 or 9 is a disservice to the players who end up spending $60. As a result, it ends up hurting our own credibility but as video game journalists, we often have to choose between credibility and revenue opportunities.
This is the main reason why some influencers are looking at Patreon and Go Fund Me to stay independent and to stay clear of publisher influence on the content they produce.
It is a sad situation which is hurting video games journalism.