NBA 2K24 Review: Pay-to-win taken to the extreme

NBA 2K24

NBA 2K24

There have always been two constants in my whole life. Sports and video games. Well, and Christopher Nolan movies, but that's a story for another day.

As a kid, born and raised in Portugal, football was my biggest passion. No matter where I was, I was either playing football, talking about football, or thinking about it.

However, that all changed when I was 12 years old. To introduce us to basketball, my P.E. teacher showed us a video of LeBron James. After watching that video, I fell in love with basketball and started playing the game every day. That's where my love for this beautiful sport was born. For those of you wondering, yes I also became a huge LeBron fan.

So, being a video game aficionado, it didn't take long until I found out about NBA 2K and dived head-first into it. NBA 2K12 was my first game, and man we didn't know how good we had it.

Fast forward a few years and NBA 2K is a shadow of what it once was. Yes, the graphics are much better than 11 years ago, but the essence of the game has been lost. Unfortunately, NBA 2K24 is just another chapter on the dark ages of NBA 2K. A soulless game that just wants your money, and doesn't really care about your experience.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into our NBA 2K24 review.

Reviewed on Xbox Series X. Review copy provided by publisher.

A micro-transactions hell

For Veteran 2K players micro-transactions are nothing new. It's been a couple of years since MyCareer/The City became pay-to-win. That's because there was no way to reach a 99 OVR without spending money in the game.

In recent years, it became normal for players to spend a couple hundred bucks on VC to evolve their character. This leads to players having an 85 OVR or higher rated character on day 1, while others only have a 60 OVR player.

It's much easier to just spend $200 and evolve your card, than having to play hundreds of games to reach your desired rating. But that not only takes the fun out of the game, it also creates a gigantic gap between "free-to-play" players and "pay-to-win" ones.

NBA 2K24 attributes
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Unfortunately, this trend continues, and if you want to be competitive in the Park, or Pro-Am, you need to spend money. There are no two ways about it, either you spend money or have fun playing with your 75 OVR player versus 90+ rated characters.

But MyTEAM was the mode that was hit the hardest by micro-transactions this year. Vito Corleone's famous quote "Look how they massacred my boy", is the perfect way to describe the state of the mode in NBA 2K24.

Yes, MyTEAM was already pay-to-win in previous editions, but nothing like this. With the Auction House now gone, and the introduction of the Player Market, where every card has a specific price, the prices of players have skyrocketed.

That's because players can now buy cards with VC, and it's also possible to purchase MT, for ridiculous prices of course. This has generated a huge problem for MyTeam.

NBA 2K24 player market
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Instead of having to open packs, make MT, and then buy the cards from the Action House. Now, players can simply purchase MT or VCs, head into the Player Market and acquire the card they want.

A spectacular Lebron James card came out!? No problem, simply buy $100 of MT and purchase that card from the Player Market. Oh, and don't worry, because in less than one month there will already be better cards out there.

The Season Pass also became a new way for 2K to make money. Players now have two premium passes they can buy, which offer many more rewards than the free pass.

Furthermore, players can also pay to skip levels on the Season Pass. For a modest amount of $53, players can reach LVL 40 of the Season 1 Pass in less than 60 seconds, and without having played a single MyTEAM game.

New features, same experience

NBA 2K24 introduced many new features to game modes such as MyNBA, MyCareer, and The W. While these features add more detail to the modes, such as the different media outlets you have in MyNBA, the experience is pretty much the same.

Yes, it's great that 2K pays attention to even the minor details. The addition of a new Era to MyNBA also gives players something new to try out. But that thrill of experiencing something new quickly fades away after a few hours.

The MyNBA experience doesn't vary that much no matter what Era you choose to play in. So, you find yourself doing the same things in the LeBron Era, as you did in the Magic vs. Bird Era. That is, trying to create a championship team, by making trades, coaching staff changes, and making moves in free agency.

NBA 2K24 LeBron Era
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Mamba Moments is not bad, and it's able to encapsulate the greatness of Kobe Bryant, at least in some moments. However, it feels like the mode could have delivered so much more. The mode had so much potential, and with Kobe Bryant having such an illustrious career, 2K had plenty of legendary moments to choose from.

Despite that, the mode only has seven games and doesn't include some iconic moments in Kobe's career, such as his 81 points game, or his 60-point final NBA game. As a Kobe Bryant fan, this was a huge disappointment, and I know many other 2K players felt the same.

In the end, Mamba Moments is a mode you finish in 2-3 hours max, and that you will probably never play again. 2K had the chance to create something memorable, and it failed. While the mode isn't bad, it's also far from being spectacular or memorable.

NBA 2K24 The W menu
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The W is more immersive and delivers a better game experience to players. However, it still feels like it has a long way to go before reaching the level of MyCAREER.

In a way, there isn't anything unique about The W when compared to MyCAREER. Most new features already existed in MyCAREER, and the ones that didn't, are either extremely similar or aren't able to captivate players.

This game mode lacks immersion and uniqueness, and that's why the majority of the NBA 2K community doesn't really care about it. It's a shame because The W could be a great mode. Unfortunately, The W feels like the baby brother of MyCAREER and is a mode that will never be able to captivate most players.

NBA 2K24 attributes menu
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Speaking of MyCAREER, the most popular game mode in NBA 2K history remains the same, a money grab. MyCAREER continues to have one goal, get players to spend as much money as possible.

To be competitive, players need to spend money on VC to improve their attributes or buy shooting animations, dribble animations, free throw animations, and many others.

The new badge system is also not good. The NBA 2K community has heavily criticized the feature, with the biggest problem for most players being badge regression.

Content creator Chris Smoove has a great video about this topic, where he pretty much voices the concerns and complaints of the entire 2K community about this badge system.

All in all, MyCAREER might have some new features, and a new storyline, but it remains the same.

A ray of hope

In a game full of micro-transactions, and game modes that fail to captivate players, the NBA 2K24 gameplay is a ray of hope.

There is no denying that this year's title delivers a more realistic experience and much smoother gameplay. Jumpshots, dunks, and layups, all feel smoother, and that is thanks to the ProPLAY Technology.

NBA 2K24 gameplay
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The same ProPLAY Technology is also responsible for the massive improvements in gameplay animations, especially signature animations. NBA 2K24 is capable of portraying the movements of superstar players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry, with high fidelity.

This makes the gameplay much more enjoyable, realistic, and easier to get immersed in. It's by far the best aspect of NBA 2K24.


NBA 2K24 is easily the most pay-to-win version of the game ever. It's hard to enjoy this game when it feels like you are at a big disadvantage if you don't spend money on it.

You can't reach 99 OVR with your MyCareer player without spending money, much less be competitive in The Park. If you want to have a good squad in MyTEAM, make sure to get your credit card out, otherwise, you won't be able to do it.

The Season Pass became just one more way for 2K to make money. If you don't have one of the two premium passes, you will be locked out of a plethora of rewards. This only increases the gap between "free-to-play" players and "pay-to-win" users.

MyCAREER is the same, a mode where Microtransactions are king, and the players' enjoyment is tossed aside. The changes made to the badge system made the mode even less enjoyable.

Mamba Moments is an okay mode, that is able to captivate the players. However, the mode had so much potential and 2K was only able to scratch its surface. It left a little bit to desire.

Gameplay seems to be the only good thing about this game. However, it doesn't feel like enough to make up for the lack of quality in other game modes or features.

A Forgetful Game
In the end, NBA 2K24 is just another forgetful game of the NBA 2K franchise. A franchise which needs to introduce some drastic changes in its next edition, if it wants to get closer to its glory days.
5 out of 10
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