NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition Is NBA 2K21 Without Obnoxious Microtransactions

Illustration for article titled NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition Is NBA 2K21 Without Obnoxious Microtransactions
Image: 2K Sports

One of the most annoying aspects of modern sports games, including the console and PC versions of NBA 2K21, are the obtrusive microtransactions. NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition, released today for the Apple Arcade service, has no microtransactions whatsoever. What a breath of fresh air.


One of the tenets of Apple Arcade is that no game on the service shall include microtransactions. There can be no paid loot boxes, no spending real money on in-game currency, and no dropping cash on card packs to build your dream NBA team. Because of that stipulation, NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition does away with the series’ long-running MyTeam feature, which has players buying and trading player cards to create their basketball dream team. In fact, all the microtransaction bullshit that caused Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett to call NBA 2K21 “a full-priced game with the beating heart of a mobile free-to-play scam” in his review? They’re gone.

NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition players still get regularly updated team rosters. They can play 5-on-5 games using teams from the 2020-2021 season. They can play it fast and loose with a Blacktop Quick Match. They’ve got online multiplayer. They even get to play through the RPG-like MyCareer mode. Best of all, they can do all that without being bothered to drop more money than the $4.99 a month Apple Arcade subscription fee.

NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition is nowhere near as feature-rich as its console counterpart, but I love that it’s a version of the game where no matter which mode I choose I am on even ground with the competition. I’d pay real money for that sort of peace of mind.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.


The problem I have with NBA 2K these days isn’t the incessant cash grabs, since if you don’t play multiplayer, that stuff can all be ignored with no effect on the experience in any way.

The problem I have with 2K is that it’s not good basketball. In singleplayer your AI teammates are laughably bad, the game doesn’t understand on some intrinsic level how NBA basketball is played in 2020 (my last experience with it was last year’s game, which I tried at a deep discount and still felt like I got ripped off). I write about this shit as a primary hobby and watch a ton of games...and I know when a video game is completely failing to simulate what I see night after night.

They can have all the microtransactions they want. They can have a big microtransaction cakewalk right through the middle of Tienanmen Square, and it won’t make a lick of difference because WE GOT THE BOMBS the underlying basketball simulation sucks.