NBA 2K21 is releasing NBA Draft packs. Should you buy them?

NBA 2K21’s MyTeam mode — which allows gamers to buy digital cards of NBA players, who are playable in the mode — has a new promotion coming Wednesday night centered around the NBA Draft.

But a Halloween promotion from the MyTeam mode might hint at what’s to come, and the results could be controversial.

NBA 2K21’s MyTeam Twitter account said on Tuesday — a day when it will normally release new digital card packs — that “Something big is droppin” on Wednesday.

So, on Wednesday, the Twitter account revealed that there would be several NBA Draft promotions in the mode, including NBA Draft digital card packs, new NBA Draft challenges and a new locker code during the promotion.

Why this is controversial

The teaser will definitely get NBA 2K fans hyped up for what’s to come. After all, last year’s NBA 2K20 had a promotion that included many of the 2020 NBA Draft stars with elevated statistics and skills. So there’s a lot to look forward to if you’re an NBA 2K fan.

That said, on Halloween, NBA 2K had a similar promotion that didn’t sit well with fans on social media.

On the night before Halloween, the NBA 2K MyTeam mode released a tweet that read: “Halloween is bringin some spooky things Stay tuned when the clock hits Midnight PT.”

Fans who stayed up found the game had released an exclusive James Harden card. But he was only available for eight hours — so fans who wanted him needed to buy the available packs then and there for a slight chance (about 2%) of earning him.

However, the MyTeam mode revealed that another card came eight hours later — a Vince Carter card. And then, after that, a LeBron James card. These cards were only available for eight hours. So you had to buy packs at a specific time to have the chance at earning them. Again, the chance of pulling one of these cards is about 2%.

NBA 2K fans on Reddit complained about the move, saying it was a quick money grab from 2K to offer packs for limited time with little odds of pulling the top players. Some said that you could spend hundreds of dollars and not pull the player. There was one story of a user who spent $500 and didn’t pull the pack.

Now, 2K fans are pointing out that the two promotions could be the same. That is to say, the NBA Draft Packs might only be available during the draft, or specific players might only be available in packs released at certain points in the draft. For example, a pack with a chance to pull Anthony Edwards would only be available for the five minutes after he gets drafted.

The bigger picture:

it’s unclear if this is how NBA 2K will work — but the issue speaks to the bigger question about how gamers are spending real money for digital cards, and how companies are rewarding those players.

A new trend in video games has centered around players paying for access to better items within the game. These are commonly referred to as “loot boxes” or “microtransactions.” These are boxes or packs or whatever you want to call it that you buy with real money. They include a random chance at pulling exclusive items that can give you a competitive advantage. They’ve long been likened to gambling.

The United Kingdom has waged a war against loot boxes in recent years. In April 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the United Kingdom launched a new investigation into whether loot boxes are a form of gambling, and whether they teacher children how to gamble, which could limit how often they’re seen, according to the Deseret News.

In the United States. the Entertainment Software Rating Board announced in April it would add a rating for loot boxes to games, too, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

And, in May 2019, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced legislation that sought to ban video game purchases like loot boxes, as the Deseret News reported.

“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions,” he said.

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