Unskippable advertising returns to NBA 2K, fans angry

The NBA 2K series is taking fire again for the appearance of unskippable, loading-screen advertisements that show up in the main game.

This weekend, Stevivor reported that an ad for Oculus rode before the usual “episode” of NBA 2KTV, which precedes a game loading in any of NBA 2K21’s multiple modes. The prompt to edit lineups as the game loads doesn’t appear until the advertisement finishes, meaning users have no choice but to watch it to the end.

Monday morning, Polygon tried to find the unskippable ads, using the game on an Xbox One. We couldn’t find them in games loaded into MyCareer, MyTeam, or any of several Play Now matchups. It’s possible this only affects certain versions or regions, or that 2K Sports already nixed the ads over the weekend furor. We’ve reached out to a 2K representative for clarification.

Stevivor said the ads were also playing on NBA 2K21’s PC and PlayStation 4 versions. Last year around Halloween, NBA 2K20 started featuring unskippable ads. NBA 2K19 experimented with them in the summer following its launch, around the time it was put on sale at a 95% discount. Both created backlashes that quickly died out.

In-game advertising — and not just fictitious billboards or real-life sponsorships — is nothing new. Madden NFL 10 started with it on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, putting in pre-game bumper ads for Snickers more than a decade ago.

In September, EA Sports inserted unskippable advertising into UFC 4 (and even 2018’s UFC 3), which launched in August on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. EA later apologized to players and disabled the ads.

The publisher noted that in-game advertising was “not new to the UFC franchise,” but said its inclusion “should have been communicated with players ahead of time.”

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