I’m no basketman. I personally keep several full-length courts away from sport ’em ups, but here I am covering NBA 2K19. That means there is at least one way in which the decision to start showing ads on loading screens in a £40/$60 game has been a success. It is the only one.
The offending ads were already being shown on ‘2KTV’, though my understanding is those were on relatively unobtrusive in-game TVs around the basket-o-pitch. What’s new is showing 2KTV on your loading screen, including an unskippable trailer for a crime drama on Fox. As the video below demonstrates, you have to watch the full ad regardless of how fast the game loads. The hapless commercial consumer stays on the loading screen for an extra ten seconds before they get to basket balls.
This is obviously not great. It is apparently possible to turn off the ads by disabling 2KTV in the options, according to this volunteer Reddit forum moderator.
There is also a player reporting that didn’t work for them – though I had a quick trawl through that thread and couldn’t see anyone else saying the same.
In any case, most players won’t realise that’s possible, as publishers 2K will be well aware. Based on the intensity of the backlash, I’d be surprised if 2K don’t quietly retract the ads, or else issue a big loud public apology. I’m very aware that many people are now talking about both the game and indirectly what it’s advertising, and it’s not impossible the negative consequences of the backlash were weighed up against all the free marketing. Still: I think it’s important that other companies see everyone going ‘nuh-uh’. Just don’t send anyone death threats, yeah?
If there IS such a thing as bad publicity, you’re looking at it.