Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of NBA 2K publisher 2K Games, is being sued over how the basketball series handles microtransactions.
One of the suit’s main complaints revolves around the inability to transfer any virtual currency you’ve bought from older entries in the series to the newer ones that’re regularly put out via its annual release cycle. This can sometimes leave players unable to access the virtual funds they’ve paid for.
As reported by Axios, the suit in question was filed in a Californian federal court on November 17 by a minor who’s being represented by their mother. It argues that Take-Two’s current approach to microtransactions in NBA 2K games is “unfair, illegal and greedy”, accusing the company of violating California's civil theft statutes.
The main focus of the argument it’s aiming to put forth to support these assertions centres around another claim it makes, which is that Take-Two is quite swift to deactivate the online servers of its sports titles once they’re replaced by newer installations. As alluded to earlier, players can’t transfer any VC they’ve accrued - whether by playing or by spending real money - between say NBA 2K21 and NBA 2K22.
So, when the servers of a game like NBA 2K21 get deactivated, as happened on December 31 2022, any currency left in players’ accounts on it essentially becomes worthless, as well as impossible to access. After all, if you’re no longer able to play against others online or continue building up your MyTeam as intended, your virtual fortune becomes a bit of a joke.
The next entry in the series that's set to recieve this treatment is NBA 2K22, which will have its servers shut down on December 31, 2023.
So, the suit argues that: "By removing Plaintiff and the Class members' VC, [the] Defendants took and stole their personal property, or fraudulently appropriated property that had been entrusted to [the] Defendant.” Naturally, the main defendant these charges are being levelled at is Take-Two, which hasn’t made a statement on the allegations as of writing, or had its lawyers respond in court.
A previous class-action lawsuit against the Take-Two, which focused on loot boxes in NBA 2K, was settled through arbitration following a judge’s ruling in October 2022 that it should be.
We'll have to see how the suit plays out, but given that the publishers of games containing microtransactions and/or loot boxes now have to jump through a number of extra hoops in terms of disclosing the nature of how these practices work, thanks to previous legal backlash and concerns, it seems like it might face a tough battle to prove its claims.
That said, it's very interesting to see that issues around microtransactions in sports titles are still leading people to take this kind of serious action in 2023, despite everything that's already happened with regards to the issue.