I’ve grown up playing Madden and NBA 2K. When I was younger, I thought there were only three types of video games in the world: sports, first-person shooters, and Pokemon. Obviously I was wrong. But, the excitement I got from opening up a new video game to pop into my Xbox 360 on Christmas day to play was unmatched (well except for the first time I beat a Pokemon game, that was also a pretty good feeling).
Looking back, I played Madden more than anything because my parents would never let me put on a pair of shoulder pads for the fear of me hurting myself. And 2K? Well, it almost makes me cry to think about the first basketball game I ever played. It was a decade ago with Kobe Bryant (RIP) on the cover. I vividly remember begging my parents to buy me Kobe’s signature shoes because I wanted to be just like him.
Then fast forward a few years when I got 2K13 where a big change in the game occurred. Along with three players on the cover—Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose—they added a control stick that allowed you to do sick dribble moves and even use it to shoot. This new versatility elevated my and many other player’s games.
Then three years later I got 2K16, another game with three players on the front and a whole array of new aspects to the game such as being able to play as a high-school senior and college star, as well as having your own realist story for MyCareer.
But after that the getting of new games stopped. It wasn’t because I was content with what I had, but more of what the new games didn’t have. I started to notice, along with many other players, that the game wasn’t changing much from one year to next except for the graphics.
Is it really worth spending $60 on a new game when the only change is the graphics and a roster update. You’ve probably seen the memes like this one from @_nbamemes_ (Instagram):
I mean, it’s kind of true. Don’t get me wrong; I love 2K. I still play my copy of NBA 2K16. I also do acknowledge that over the years the mechanics have also definitely gotten better, but there doesn’t seem to be that big of a change between years.
After watching the NBA 2K21 trailer, it’s clear that the graphics look better, as Zion was really sweaty. But, besides that, it’s interesting to note that if the game is released in September like planned, there may not be any of the rookies like LaMelo Ball as the draft isn’t planned for until October.
What’s more interesting is based on the trailer, one would assume that Zion may be the cover athlete, beating out another favorable choice like Kobe Bryant.
Let’s take a step back and think for a second: What can 2K really do every year to make the game better and different? It’s just plain old basketball. It’s not like they can change the rules of the sport and add a four-point line or something (although now that I think about it, the game does have a “MyLeague” mode that allows you to change some rules between seasons).
Honestly, even FIFA gets the same hatred in that regard as it’s also similar every year. But with sports games like this, how can you really change the fundamentals of the game when the game itself doesn’t change?
For that reason, you may be hesitant to empty your pockets and pay $59.99 for the regular version of NBA 2K21 when it comes out later this year, which is entirely fair. Maybe instead of getting 2K every year, think of it like an investment. A one-time $60 investment into a game that generates countless hours of entertainment for a few years instead of one. This means that instead of buying the new version the following year, you wait for another before you invest another $60.