Even for the "NBA 2K" series, which is no stranger to rough launches, "NBA 2K20" has had an especially tumultuous release.
First there was the controversy over the promotion of gambling-like mechanics that preceded the game's release. It was an ill-advised decision to release such a gaudy trailer at the worst possible time, when legislators are examining the issue of monetization in video games. That was essentially a self-own, becoming a major story despite none of the aspects featured actually being new to the series.
Now, in the days after Friday's release, frustration within the "NBA 2K" community has boiled over and a coordinated effort to express that resulted in the game becoming the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter with well over 100,000 tweets featuring the #fix2k20 hashtag.
So what are the biggest complaints?
'NBA 2K20' REVIEW: The good, the bad and the new from 2K Sports
As has become an annual tradition for "NBA 2K," the servers struggle under the weight of millions of players and the constant check-ins related to its online modes and in-game currency.
When the servers are down, literally half of the game becomes inaccessible. Arguably worse, though, is when they are apparently up and time is spent playing only to find out afterward that the results were washed away because of a server error.
I miss the days of playing a game day one and it just working. Online gaming has added so much more stress to gaming. Hardly any game ever works day one. I mean ever. It’s sad and ruining my love of gaming. https://t.co/9QcJ2wjACM
— Scott Burress (@ExtremeGamer) September 9, 2019
Unbelievable server issues happening with #nba2k20. And the worst part is, stuff like this, so you can’t even tell if it’s a waste of time to try to get a game in until you get the error... #fix2k20 @2KSupport @NBA2K pic.twitter.com/PDCPUfp04B
— Mark Rushford (@markrushford) September 9, 2019
— Shake4ndbake (@ItsShake4ndbake) September 9, 2019
— 2K20 News (@2K20Insider) September 9, 2019
Glitches and bugs
All games have glitches, but for the most part they can be overlooked because of their relative rarity. "2K20," though, is struggling to keep its systems working.
Progression in the various MyPlayer modes has been stunted with credit toward rep and badges not being earned as they should. Many have found that their names are missing from their jerseys. An update to the player motion system could be responsible for some unnatural animation glitches and player sliding.
#fix2k20 Fix the frozen bar glitch can’t even rep up my player smh
— AP (@AP86329054) September 9, 2019
What really needs to be fixed in @NBA2K #NBA2K20 #fix2k20 #fixnba2k20
1. Frozen Badge/Attribute Progression
2. Game Mode Networking
3. People not asking the right questions n just assuming
4. The Cry Baby Casual Mentality that doesn't want to get punished for bad decision making
— lM0NSTR0SITYl THE LION OF CTG (@lM0NSTR0SITYl) September 9, 2019
Some features were promised, but not delivered by the game. "The Neighborhood" was said to have new parks, but it's the same thing as last year. More "pies" for character creation were said to be ready for release, but they are not present.
1. Lied about respec
2. Lied about changing takeovers
3. Lied about more piecharts
4. Badges are impossible to get with out doing a badge glitch
5. Shooting is very inconsistent
6. Park is not fun
7. Error codes
8. Blue screens
9. Servers are trash
10. LT In the game#fix2k20
— vPFv (@vPFv2K) September 9, 2019
-Youll be able to respec your build in NBA2K20
-You wont get double bars at all
-It’s a different neighborhood
-best 2k ever
-Cant Respec your build
-You get triple bars
-It’s 2k19 neighborhood
This game broke as a mufucka#fixnba2k20
— JoJo (@nlmbjohnny23) September 9, 2019
❌ New Neighborhood
❌ Respec Created Builds
❌ New Pie Charts
❌ Smoother Gameplay
✅ Tons of Game Breaking Glitches #fix2k20
— Santino Camacho (@Mr_Monopoly30) September 9, 2019
— NBA 2K20 TEA ☕️ (@NBA2KTEA) September 9, 2019
Reactionary changes by developers
This started before the game even released. Hours after the demo went out, gameplay adjustments were being made based on feedback coming in on social media. Whether major changes would be warranted realistically should not be determined so quickly considering the limited sample size.
An update has already gone out just three days after the release which changed some of the things that were most well-received about the game. In Sporting News' review, the speed of players and strategic use of turbo was noted as a positive.
That, apparently, has already been reverted to a prior state and many are not happy about it. Some changes were even faulty and will have to be reversed.
Centers Are Almost quick as the Guards after the update #NBA2K20
— NBA 2K20 INTEL (@2KIntel) September 9, 2019
The park speeds were boosted a bit further than desired and will be toned down asap. Apologies.
— Mike Wang (@Beluba) September 9, 2019
Monetization still a hot topic
Though the grind has been eased somewhat, "NBA 2K20" is still heavily influenced by the way it has been monetized. When there are major problems with the game, such as being unable to play or progress due to the servers, anger over being asked to spend more money will naturally be amplified.
Everyone thought I was crazy when I told them I wasn't buying 2K this year lol. Now #fix2k20 is trending and you see why. They focus on microtransactions schemes more than the gameplay and features.
— Referee Nelson (@itstheref) September 9, 2019
I cant believe people actually bought the new nba game after that horrible loot box, slot machine, gambling trailer. Then they’re surprised that the game sucks. Where do you think the effort went? They really do squeeze the sport fans dry, dont buy these games. #fix2k20
— mike (@mike_houlahan) September 9, 2019
I’m annoyed at how “cheap” 2K has been with their “free VC”. The mobile companion app gives sig. less than last year. They aren’t even trying to hide that they’re a pay2play company
— benjamin archer kent (@patsoxcelts07) September 9, 2019
Earlier release date
Magnifying the issues is how the series has continued to push its release date up. It now comes out in early September. That's a month before the NBA's preseason and six weeks before the regular season. Right or wrong, the perception will be that extra time could have been spent polishing the game and preparing the servers.
#fix2k20 trending... but it’s the same thing every year that y’all keep falling for. If 2K come out in September, just don’t buy it until atleast the end of the month because it’s guaranteed to be broken and need a patch on release. It’s that simple. Their track record shows.
— Michael McCrary (@Michael_McCrary) September 9, 2019
It's more than just this year
A history of poor communication, trolling fans of the game on social media and a refusal to ever admit to issues or mistakes has led to the current boiling over of frustration. The marketing point-person for the game on social media taking credit for praise the game receives (rather than the developers who deserve that shine) but then deflecting blame to others when conflict arises has contributed to this now. The difference is this time consumers have decided to speak with one voice and use the same platforms in which they feel they've been mistreated over the years against the company.
Metacritic user ratings
Besides the deluge of tweets and posts on Reddit, the displeasure can also be found in the Metacritic user reviews. While the game currently has a respectable (but low by "NBA 2K" standards) 79 score from critics, it has a 1.2 from users.
This has become the norm for many games in which the user scores are bombed by those unhappy with the game, but it has been especially pronounced with recent "2K" releases. The frustration goes beyond Twitter and is present with these user reviews and places like Reddit. The game also has atrocious reviews on PC platform Steam.
All this being said, "NBA 2K20" has the potential to be an excellent game when working properly. Check out SN's review for what it got right and to help determine whether it's worthy of a purchase with these problems still in mind.
Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, is co-founder of the sports gaming site HitThePass.com, hosts the "Press Row Podcast" and can be reached on Twitter @Pastapadre.