Some six weeks after launching NBA 2K21, 2K Sports has patched in a pair of video advertisements. These ads play during loading screens, and cannot be skipped.
A piece on Stevivor has uploaded captures of the two ads, both for the Oculus Quest 2 VR system from Facebook. The captures reportedly come from both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game. According to the report, similar ads exist on the PC version of the game as well.
This is not the first time unskippable ads have appeared in the series, with 2K games experimenting with the feature in the previous two installments. Other major publishers have tried this too. Last month, Electronic Arts slipped in ads for the Amazon Prime series The Boys which played during the middle of round replay sequences in UFC 4, as well as logos for the series applied to the middle of the ring.
Fan outrage, including a suggestion that the ads were deliberately withheld to avoid impacting review scores, prompted EA to remove the ads and issue a mea culpa from community manager "Corey SA," who wrote in part, "It is abundantly clear from your feedback that integrating ads into the replay and overlay experience is not welcome. The advertisements have been disabled by the team and we apologize for any disruption to gameplay that players may have experienced."
Food For Thought
2K Games is already the target of grumbling from NBA 2K fans who aren't happy about having to pay increased prices for games when they come out for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. This particular move might have sounded like a good business decision, but could potentially damage the franchise in the long run, especially if 2K Games decides not to withdraw the ads like EA did with UFC 4. The larger question, between the announced price bumps and wildly unpopular monetization schemes, is whether 2K Games is financially stable, since a healthy company wouldn't necessarily be trying to squeeze every last penny out of their customer base in such an antagonistic fashion.