Big Brother is Always Watching Us Play?

Last column I talked about some issues I had with NBA 2K21 operating as a freemium game with a microtransactions buffet. Well readers…we are going back to round two on 2K21 because so much of this title turned me into a rabid gamer. For a brief moment on Tuesday I had a moment of lucidity between the moments of rabid scorn I felt. It was at that moment I realized I was turning into Hardcore Todd.

That was not what this column was supposed to be. I loved the Hardcore column, but want to take Skirmisher on a different path.

Because of this, I will take this column back to its roots once I get this final gripe out of the way. Now, if I may, allow me to take this game behind the shed and load the metaphorical shotgun to put this game out of its misery.

I bought 2K21 for the Switch since I am waiting for the Xbox Series X to come out and get the kinks worked out. Now, I’m aware that the Switch is not an ideal platform to play this game, but that does not excuse the flaw of having to be always online. I am not an online gamer and do not wish to engage with the masses as I work through my in-game career. Imagine when, during the middle of a game, I put the game in sleep mode to go make lunch only to come back and be told that because it went into sleep mode that I was not on the servers and it kicked me to the main menu.

TO THE MAIN MENU! WHAT?

I was stunned that a game on a mobile console will not let you put it in sleep mode without having to go back to the main screen and manually hitting Connect. Then I found out that this game cannot be played if you are offline at all. No exceptions. You must always be connected to an internet source and logged in with your 2K account to play any game mode. 2K, if you can’t play the game without being connected to the internet at all times…why did you put it on a MOBILE console? Also, if I am not actively in an online match, why am I forced to lose my game progress because the system went to sleep when I took a phone call?

I have issues with games that force full connectivity for various reasons, not the least of which is that it makes me think of The Beholder game I reviewed a few years ago. As someone who grew up dirt poor my first thought goes to “What if someone cannot afford internet or there are no ISP’s where they live?” A lot of people in more rural areas likely do not have access to broadband and there is no way games like NBA 2K21 can run off of satellite internet. It feels like the games industry is thumbing their nose at gamers who live outside major internet areas.

Data caps are another concern as some internet providers have relatively low data caps before they throttle the internet service to near dialup levels. None of this is new. There were complaints when the Xbox One looked at forcing the owner to have the internet or they wasted money on a very technologically advanced paperweight. This is not rocket science, make the base modes offline enabled. Full stop.

As a gamer and someone without a lot of disposable income, it is the money hungry shenanigans the game industry does that anger me the most. I hate how games I pay full price like 2K21 force non-skippable ads on me during loading screens. That is a whole different topic I could not Frankenstein into this already long rant. I hate how I must pay for high end internet and being forced to always be online on the off case I want to befriend every random passerby in The Neighborhood mode.

In closing, I guess what I want to say is that NBA 2K21 represents everything I hate about the game industry. It is games like this that make me want to park my car back in the N64-PS2 era. At first I thought that I was getting old and that I was suffering from nostalgia blindness. In actuality, I think that I miss the simplicity of buying a game and not getting harangued for every last nickel I have while being ordered to be sociable. Next column will be a more reasoned piece and will get back to being better at discussing issues in the industry. Thank you, readers, for staying with me on this side-tracked ride.

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One thought on “Big Brother is Always Watching Us Play?”

  1. My goodness, this game sounds like a nightmare functionality wise. I pray this is not a sign of what’s to come. I do agree that a mobile based console harboring this game should not have a heavy dependency on online connections. A lot of the time I find myself playing on my Switch in places without internet access. I play animal crossing a lot. Thankfully, when internet services are active I can definitely put the console to sleep, but it resets my position and undoes a little bit of progress…

    Can you imagine wireless dial up? What if you did have to take a call while in the middle of a career making online match? I’d murder the caller.

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