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2K under fire for adding unskippable in-game ads to the full-price NBA 2K21 a month after release

UPDATE: 2K suggests ad placement was a mistake, promises fix.

By Wesley Yin-Poole. 21/10/2020

UPDATE 21st October 2020: 2K has issued a statement on the unskippable adverts in NBA 2K21, suggesting their placement was a mistake.

In a statement issued on Twitter, 2K said the ad that sparked a backlash earlier this week "impacted our players' experience in a way we didn't intend, as these ads are not meant to run as part of the pre-game introduction".

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2K has promised this will be fixed in future episodes of 2KTV.

UPDATE 19th October 2020: 2K has come under fire from NBA 2K21 players for adding unskippable in-game adverts.

As reported by Stevivor, 2K recently added unskippable adverts into the full-price basketball sim's pre-game loading screens across all platforms.

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The video below from Stevivor shows an advert for Oculus Quest 2 attached to a pre-game video called MyTeam Season 2, Episode 7. The advert runs as the match is loading (you can see the loading progress in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen). It's worth noting you cannot edit your team lineup until the advert has run its course. According to Stevivor, the experience is the same on PC, even when running from an SSD.

The adverts hit the game just over a month after launch on PC and current-gen consoles, and ahead of the planned PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X release.

2K pulled a similar trick with last year's game - a move that was similarly criticised by fans.

Unskippable ads in a 60$ game, fuck you 2k from r/NBA2k

And it rekindles memories of EA's insertion of in-game adverts into UFC 4 - a move the publisher eventually reversed following a backlash.

2K has a bad reputation for the monetisation of its NBA franchise. In August 2019, European video game age-rating organisation PEGI said it was "very aware" NBA 2K20 got "too close for comfort" to teaching players gambling after it received a complaint about a controversial casino trailer.

2K had released a trailer for NBA 2K20 on YouTube that highlighted casino-style elements in the game, such as a slot machine mini-game and a wheel of fortune mini-game.

Commenting on the insertion of in-game adverts into NBA 2K21, redditor RiddleGaming21 said: "I truly don't know what to do or say anymore. A monopoly for a single genre of video games, basketball. Honestly, I don't even think there is a way to make me want to play anymore and that truly upsets and disappoints me."

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"This infuriated me earlier," added Pandrewbear92. "I saw an ad for Oculus come up and was so dumbfounded I just sat there.

"Why, when you pay 70 quid for a game, should you be subject to them making more money off of you when you paid for the final product? They're literally making money off of us after we've paid them in full for the product. How is that ok?"

It'll be interesting to see how this all works on PS5 and Xbox Series X, two consoles pitched as more or less eradicating loading times. Eurogamer has asked 2K for comment.