China is in the new NBA 2K, but does China care?
The NBA is huge in China, and so are NBA games
The world’s biggest basketball game is adding Chinese basketball to the latest edition.
NBA 2K19's new storyline, titled The Way Back, follows a player named A.I. (who is nothing like Allen Iverson and has nothing to do with artificial intelligence). The trailer shows him playing for a fictional team in China, listening to a coach giving him orders in Mandarin... a language he doesn't understand.
After that, A.I. returns to the US to work his way up to the NBA through another minor league, leading Chinese gamers to joke that the new story mode should be called Socialist Transformation.
The game has a good fan base in China. NBA 2K Online, the Chinese version from Tencent, had 19 million registered users after a year of release.
And the country loves the NBA. Gamers (including our own Josh Ye) were really excited by the announcement that the game will have famous Chinese commentators on PS4.
But in contrast, Chinese gamers don’t appear to care much about the new storyline. Instead, they have the same complaint as gamers in the West: Let us skip the story!
“I will buy it if I can skip the damn cutscenes,” one user commented on Hupu, a popular sports forum in China.
A lot of gamers also want more choice in the story: "Can I choose to not go to the NBA? I want to stay in the Chinese Basketball Association and help my team win."
But others say they've spent a lot of money to upgrade their characters in the game... and that NBA 2K's new love for China might be because of that huge market of big spenders.
“America is trying really hard to win the Chinese market,” one user says.