US basketball

‘NBA 2K20’ review bombed on Steam, Metacritic

Gelo Gonzales
‘NBA 2K20’ review bombed on Steam, Metacritic
The popular sports title is currently a target of negative review bombing on the online store and the reviews aggregator

MANILA, Philippines – You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. 

Basketball simulator NBA 2K20 is somewhat seeing the fulfillment of such a prophecy online. 

2K20, the latest in the NBA 2K series, was released Friday, September 6 – but it hasn’t taken long for users to come at it with pitchforks. On Steam and Metacritic, user reception to the game has been incredibly unforgiving. The former sums up user reviews – currently at around 1,200 – as “Overwhelmingly Negative” while the latter currently shows a 1.4 out of 10 user rating. 

It’s bad, as far as reactions of early buyers are concerned. But it’s not new though. Ever since NBA 2K18, user reviews on Steam and Metacritic have not been very kind to the series, although professional reviews have remained fairly positive. 

Review bombing – people putting extreme ratings on a game, tv show, or movie as retribution – is not a new phenomenon. In the past, games like Star Wars Battlefront 2, Borderlands 2, and CS:GO were also review bombed as a reaction to in-game mechanics that users disagreed with.

Often, as Screenrant describes it, it is “often a clear response to something other than the game’s quality.” 

For example, Borderlands 2 was hit by a rush of negative reviews due to Borderlands 3 – primarily because it had been announced that Borderlands 3 would be a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store for 6 months. CS:GO was review bombed after it became free-to-play, which may have changed some user privileges that players felt may affect the game. 

For NBA 2K20, the reaction seems to be centered on lootbox mechanics, microtransactions, and complaints that the core game may not have changed that much from last year’s version. 

One mode of the game, MyTeam, has players buying and opening digital player card packs in order to form a super team. Some see this as a gambling mechanic that has drawn some criticism and controversy including the US government – which may be looking to regulate such mechanisms in videogames. The NBA 2K series isn’t the only franchise that’s currently making use of such a mode. 

Meanwhile, reviews from sites such as Forbes and Game Revolution have been quite positive, with praise for improvements in the game’s feel, player movements, and graphics; and a strong story mode produced with help from SpringHill Productions, the company who’s making Space Jam 2.

Reviews from professional sites have been few at this moment, so a real consensus is still currently being formed. 

Tune in here for our review soon. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.