2K Games has announced that NBA 2K21 will be launching on September 4th for PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia for the regular retail price of $60. Sounds normal, right? Well, they’ve also announced an Xbox Series X and PS5 version that’ll cost $70, which will be available as a launch title. The news was discovered by Wario64 on Twitter.
It’s long been surmised that a price hike for games was coming, as industry veterans like PlayStation’s CEO Jim Ryan stating that games are becoming more expensive to make. Increasing the retail price from $60 to $70 was only a matter of time, it seems, and 2K have attempted to justify the increased price in the press release attached to the above tweet.
In said press release, Visual Concepts President Greg Thomas states: “We’re combining all of our experience and development expertise to craft the best game possible and for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, we are building the game from the ground up to take full advantage of next-gen power and technology.”
This is all fine and dandy so far, however 2K’s approach to cross-generation ownership leaves a lot to be desired. NBA 2K21 will launch with the regular edition and the special Mamba Forever Edition, which commemorates Kobe Bryant’s legacy. The Mamba Forever Edition costs $100, and will include a current gen and next-gen version of the game, meaning the cheapest way to ensure you can play across both generations is to shell out $100.
2K seem happy to point out how they’ll introduce MyTEAM Cross-Progression and a shared VC Wallet across the same family of consoles, along with next-gen enhancements like faster loading times, better visuals and upgraded game modes, but NBA 2K players now have to make an educated choice. If they’re definitely picking up a next-gen console, is NBA 2K21’s Mamba Forever Edition worth the extra $40 over the normal current generation version to ensure you can play on both generations, or do you wait and simply play it on next-gen?
There’s the argument to be made that NBA 2K’s most loyal players would be throwing $100 at the special edition regardless of whether or not it offered cross-generation capabilities, so for them, this means nothing. The casual players, however, are being punished here. If they do wait for the next-gen version, they’ll be joining online MyTEAM matches with Mamba Forever owners that have a head start on upgrades and cards thanks to playing on current gen. 2K Games are effectively charging $40 to avoid the fear of missing out.
With developers and publishers left and right introducing means for players to carry their purchased games over to the next-generation, including the likes of Xbox’s Smart Delivery, Marvel’s Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077, NBA 2K21’s approach feels like a slap in the face. That rings especially true when you consider that the Mamba Forever Edition is supposed to honour Kobe’s legacy, and yet it’s being used to nickel and dime players.
NBA 2K21 isn’t the first game to court controversy over its approach to cross-generational ownership, with EA’s Madden NFL 21 (because of course it’s 2K and EA that are at fault here) adopting a limited time window to upgrade your current gen game. After fan backlash though, EA rolled back their plans and instead announced you’ll be able to upgrade your version at any point until the launch of Madden NFL 22, at which point the game will become obsolete anyway.
This is without getting into MyTEAM as a whole. The NBA 2K20 version of MyTEAM was widely ridiculed for openly promoting its gambling mechanics, complete with cringey face-cams, slot machines and so much more. Hopefully, the recent report from the UK’s House of Lords will put an end to that one eventually.
Again, games becoming more expensive when the PS5 and Xbox Series X launches always felt like an inevitability, but to force players to spend an extra $40 to play NBA 2K21’s next-gen version when other developers are supporting free cross-generational updates just feels wrong. Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments.