‘NBA 2K20’ Is So Broken That It’s Trending

“NBA 2K20” is broken and gamers are fuming. We talked to the experts about why.

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Dwyane Wade and Ronnie 2K / Jon Sciulli/Getty Images

Sports games like NBA 2K20 aren’t video games in the same way as Fortnite. Sure, you can play God and create entire leagues of players, customizing everything from the trades teams make all the way down to how an individual player shoots. But, NBA 2K20 is a “sports simulation game” whose core appeal is replicating real-life NBA basketball as closely as it can. That constant pursuit to marry the digital world with the real one is the reason that the new game’s glitchy rollout has inspired a social media campaign aimed to “#Fix2k20.” 

From the day the game hit shelves on September 6 there have been glaring issues. Besides digital players leaping higher than humanly possible, actual people have had their virtual currency (VC) inexplicably taken from their accounts, costing them real money, and others can’t even help their mother with groceries for fear of the game crashing and their money being lost. ONE37pm spoke with professional NBA 2K players Christopher “SavageDoWerk” Tracey and Adam “iamadamthefirst” Kudeimati to learn about the glitches, how to fix the game and why glitches are actually necessary. 

“A new 2K launch is no more flawless than the release of a new iPhone,” Kudeimati proclaimed to ONE37pm.

In the 2K community, glitches are a sort of illusion tax—the cost of trying to perfectly re-create human life in an imperfect virtual realm. The long loading times in between MyCareer games and the fast dribble speeds are seen as somewhat natural consequences of human error. Those glitches are as begrudgingly accepted and expected by players as actual taxes.

The glitches that have many gamers calling for the firing of NBA 2K developers actually center on what some may argue is the game’s closest connection to real-life: MyPlayer. A constant staple in the 2K franchise, the MyPlayer builder allows gamers to customize their own player and even scan their own face to be used for their digital baller. Players spend countless hours going through repetitive tasks, games and achievements in order to “max out” their player’s rating at 99.  

They also spend hundreds of dollars purchasing VC in order to boost their player’s skills. Savage, a professional NBA 2K player in the NBA 2K League, admitted to sleeping for a total of only nine of the 72 hours between NBA 2K20’s release and our interview on September 9 while developing his new player. He’s heard about gamers who encountered a bug that prevented them from accumulating any more of the rep points necessary to increase their player’s overall rating.

Now, for a second, imagine spending weeks of your life grooming something that looks like you and plays basketball better than you, in hopes of winning money at Pro Am games and credibility in the 2K community, and then a glitch keeps you from helping it reach its full potential. Then add in the possibilities, proposed by Savage, that even after 2K fixes those glitches you may not get reimbursed for the rep points you couldn’t accumulate, or worse your character is lost completely. 

People get emotional over their Tamagotchi dying, and that’s just a pixel pet you feed and clean up after. 2K’s history dealing with glitches give these fears credence. 

“There was a time in NBA 2K18 where they actually took people’s players. You’d have your player and then all of a sudden you wouldn’t have one. They resorted to sending people’s VC back,” Savage remembered.

While that all may be true, an inconvenient truth about NBA 2K glitches is even with the NBA 2K having a tradition of releasing glitchy games to players’ dismay, the best NBA 2K players in the world not only accept some glitches but feel they’re needed. Kudeimati was part of Knicks Gaming in 2018 when the squad became the first team to win the NBA 2K League championship. He went as far as to say he fully believes certain glitches help maintain the competitive order. 

“I definitely think little exploits are unavoidable, albeit necessary. As long as they are not game-breaking, they help create a skill gap between players,” he attested. 

The teams that compete in the NBA 2K League—the NBA-backed esports league based around NBA 2K—play a tougher build of the game than the retail version. Savage said that in the most recent season player types that were more defensively oriented were incredibly hard to get by and score on. Thankfully for a lot of professional players, a glitch could give them an assist.

“If [a glitch] helps the game, obviously, use it to your advantage. Last year, we used what we called a ‘dribble glitch.’ It’s when you hold the left trigger and you did dribble moves, so you weren’t able to get [the ball stolen]. That ended up being in the [NBA 2K] League. That was something we needed to use because ‘locks’ (defensively inclined player builds) were very overpowering,” Savage explained.

Whether good or bad, it’s hard to argue that a multibillion-dollar franchise close to passing 100 million games sold such as NBA 2K shouldn’t figure out how to make a video game without glitches that cost its customers time and money. Mike Wang, gameplay director for NBA 2K, has been fielding disgruntled players’ concerns on his personal Twitter account this week. While he says he doesn’t know if players’ lost points and badge progression will be fixed, he did state the issue is “being worked on with the highest priority.” 

2K released a patch earlier this week that mainly addressed the speed in the online parks and some background optimization issues but none of the main problems outlined in this article. For players like Kudeimati and Savage, the solution to 2K’s problems is quite obvious: Let the pros test it before it hits the masses.

“The game would benefit if they had the NBA 2K League players help them with making the game and testing the game,” Savage asserted. “We notice this stuff first because we play this heavy. If we got involved, I don’t think it’d be as buggy.”

ONE37pm reached out to 2K but never got a response. With the NBA season less than a month away, the clock is on for 2K to get its act together before the real game comes into town and frustrations with the virtual game inspire people to spend more time watching the real deal instead of being screwed by an illusion.

Related: We Went to the 2K League Championship and It Was Lit

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