If you read my review of NBA 2K18 last year, you probably saw that I had strong feelings about the way the game had further catered its progression systems to lean on the use of microtransactions. Virtual currency, or VC for short, has been a digital currency used in the NBA 2K games for a while now, but 2K18 began locking more items behind these VC paywalls than normal in last year’s version. This all resulted in the least satisfying NBA 2K experience that I have had with the series in years.
Recently at E3, Game Informer sat down with Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick to discuss the use of virtual currency and how he and the company reacted to last year’s drama surrounding their implementation. Zelnick said the following:
“Unquestionably we pay attention to consumer response because we’re so focused on engaging and captivating and entertaining the consumer. Any time we get feedback that is anything less than 1000 percent positive, we stop and say, what should we do differently? I think there’s a small sliver of the consumer base that basically wants everything for free, we can’t really help those people. I think most consumers just want a fair deal and we do think that part of a fair deal is, you know when you get the check at the end of the meal, it’s not enough that the food tasted good, it has to be a fair deal for what you got. So we’re very focused on it being more than a fair deal, we want to give consumers much more than they paid for.”
Zelnick went on to talk about how engaging the customer in the product that Take-Two is creating is the most vital part of creating video games, with a focus on monetization coming second.
“We do learn every time and we have to balance monetization with the experience. In our case, we sort of all regrouped and said, wait, let’s remind ourselves that we’re in the business of creating the best entertainment on Earth, across all types of entertainment. We’re focused on engaging and captivating consumers. If we do that right and that’s our entire focus, the revenues and the profits will probably take care of themselves, so let’s not overemphasize those. So I’m asking questions now like does big data and having lots of data scientists on your team allow you to enhance your monetization? And the answer is, technically I suppose that would be the case, but are you a monetization company or are you an entertainment company? We’re an entertainment company and when we get that right, everything else flows from it.”
While Zelnick didn’t mention any specifics on how Take-Two will be changing the usage of microtransactions, especially in the case of the NBA 2K series, it seems that he and the company have learned a lot following last year’s outrage. Take-Two is just one of many companies in the video game industry that seem weary to go too hard on microtransactions in 2018 after seeing how fans reacted to their harsh implementation last year in games like Star Wars Battlefront II.
As for what’s next, we’ll have to wait and see how virtual currency is implemented in this year’s edition of the annual basketball sim when NBA 2K19 launches on September 11 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.