It's been difficult to leave NBA 2K21 MyTEAM and MyCAREER. Despite the fact that the connected experience has many advantages, it has also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER's offline experience.
Guide to NBA 2K21 MyCAREER Offline
After considering whether or not it would be appropriate to cover this in a Friday Five article with the title "5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse," it was determined that the list format would not be appropriate for the topic. My recent change of heart and mind is largely due to the fact that I came across this Reddit post from about five months ago, which outlines the various ways in which MyCAREER offline has been devalued over the years. Because it was thorough in its research, I must acknowledge it as a source of information for the specific changes I've noted in this section. Not to mention that the title was appropriate. It's a subject that doesn't get nearly enough attention, and I'd like to make up for that by discussing it today and considering some potential solutions.
Although MyCAREER includes the traditional NBA career experience as well as the connected online modes of The Playground (aka Park), 2K Pro-Am, and The Rec, when most gamers refer to "MyCAREER," they are referring to the NBA-oriented single player mode that is comprised of offline gameplay against the CPU. MyCAREER is available in both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. However, the NBA side of MyCAREER is still connected these days, even though it is considered offline play. In The Neighborhood, we still enter the game world through virtual reality (VR), and our MyPLAYER's progress and inventory are synced with the game's server-stored information. This means that MyCAREER requires internet access even when you are not actively playing online.
Over the course of the last generation, this has presented a number of difficulties. With more and more functionality being tied to online data as noted in that Reddit post in great detail, MyCAREER offline has been losing features as the servers are inevitably shut down. The number of features that have been lost has increased with each successive year. My Player and MyCAREER were fully functional offline in NBA 2K10 through NBA 2K14, the seventh generation of the game. When the server was shut down, NBA 2K14's new take on MyCAREER was unable to assign shoes, accessories, and tattoos to players on the current generation of gaming console. Everything, including endorsements, cutscenes, and Badge upgrades, was still accessible.
When NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17 went offline, the ability to personalize your MyCOURT as well as the Badge upgrade system were both removed from the games. While the ability to purchase and equip any animations was removed from the latter, the story cutscenes and endorsements – which were now accessed through Skill Points rather than VC – were retained in the former. It would be in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19 that these features would finally be removed, as MyCAREER offline was reduced to its bare essentials and the ability to convert connected saves to offline saves was eliminated. There were some animations in NBA 2K19's version, and the new Badge system still allowed for full offline upgrades in both of those games, but it was clear that the game was doomed.
Finally, we come to the NBA 2K21 game, where MyCAREER offline is no longer available in any form. It will be completely unavailable when the NBA 2K21 servers are shut down, just like MyTEAM will be when the servers are shut down. A stripped-down version of the mode, as well as the ability to go back and revisit old saves, will be unavailable. -Also keep in mind that when you reinstall an older game that has discontinued online support, such as NBA 2K17, you may discover that you will no longer be able to convert your old connected saves if they are missing data that can only be retrieved from servers that are no longer accessible. Overall, MyCAREER offline has been declining for years and is no longer an option for anyone interested in advancing their careers.
You may be wondering what the big deal is at this point. Let me explain. Certain aspects of online connectivity, as well as features that are designed to support online content, are what attract customers. Many people leave every year, and the Skill Points grind has always been worse than the VC grind despite the fact that both are equally difficult to complete. After all, who wants to play MyCAREER when it's not connected to the internet anyway? People who want to revisit old saves or play an older game for a longer period of time than the planned server shutdowns are definitely out there, even if they are not the majority of gamers. Because of this, there is understandable dissatisfaction with the decline, which has resulted in a complete and permanent removal of the MyCAREER offline experience.
A number of gamers believe it represents a step backwards, or at the very least, progress in an undesirable direction. It is also incompatible with the nostalgia associated with our favorite basketball video games, which is another issue. Several excellent ideas have materialized as a result of the connected approach to MyCAREER, but they have all but vanished after 27 months on the platform. Moreover, since NBA 2K has arrived on the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid console-handheld device that may or may not be connected to the internet at any given time, it has made MyCAREER less accessible and customizable. In addition, the requirement to be constantly connected is incompatible with the Switch's concept of being able to play both at home and on the go with a single gaming device, which limits its usefulness.
That said, it is not only about older games in this category. If you are experiencing any type of Internet connectivity issues, you will be unable to play your connected save, and the only alternative – at least until NBA 2K21 – is an extremely trimmed-down version of the mode. It is possible to lose your progress while playing an NBA 2K game, even in an offline single-player mode, if there is a server hiccup – which is not uncommon due to the frustratingly unreliable nature of NBA 2K's servers. It's one thing to be disconnected in The Playground or Pro-Am, but it's quite another to be kicked out of a game against the computer due to a connection issue or server problem!
In addition, the introduction of The Neighborhood means that we can no longer leave the game idling in MyCAREER unless we are in MyCOURT (which, of course, we must run half a block around the block to reach and then load into). The implementation of virtual currency (VC) is a major factor in the need for the single player portion of MyCAREER to be available online at this point, as was pointed out in the previously mentioned Reddit thread. The recurrent revenue mechanics that the suits adore are propelled by this data stream. A lack of variety and appeal in MyCAREER offline, as well as the absence of MyCAREER altogether, encourages gamers to purchase the latest NBA 2K game. . . .
Even so, the connected experience has its advantages. Needless to say, this enables 2K to continue to release new content, though MyCAREER offline could conceivably only contain launch assets (particularly when it comes to animations). Obviously, the main attraction is the way it simplifies player progression. There is no need to build a separate player for offline and online play, which saves time (and potentially money) for both players. When you take them online, the progress you've made while playing offline will be transferred to your MyPLAYER account. Although the influence of the online experience on offline play – ranging from cosmetic content to mechanics such as player builds – is generally positive, the influence of the online experience on offline play is not always favorable.
The difficulty in suggesting a feasible solution that NBA 2K is likely to use arises from the fact that there is a compelling reason for the connectivity, let alone the benefits of recurring user spending. A lack of incentive for 2K makes pushing for change a difficult task. The approach is successful the vast majority of the time on the platforms that house the majority of the userbase. Although it appears to be impossible from a technical standpoint, I believe it is doable. We know it's possible because previous games have allowed players to convert their online saves for offline use. Amounts of Skill Points stored in an offline save could be increased, and players could gain access to a variety of basic cosmetic items and animations that were available at the time of the game's release.
The most frustrating part is that we've seen this before in other games. The removal of these features would only serve to make games obsolete, which is the only reason for doing so. Moreover, there must be a way to complete NBA games while not connected to the internet, and then sync the data with the server afterward. However, there must be security measures that could be implemented to prevent cheating and exploits from occurring, especially on PCs where hacking is possible. Another option would be to create a separate offline career mode, similar to what has been done with MyLEAGUE and MyGM. And no, the impromptu solution of playing MyLEAGUE with player lock is not an excuse for 2K to ignore the needs of offline gamers in their efforts to provide them with a quality experience.
It's true that being able to play a deep career experience without connectivity has its drawbacks, as you'd have to start a new, connected save in order to bring a player online, but it's a sacrifice that most MyCAREER players are willing to make for the sake of their experience. I don't think it's possible to completely separate MyCAREER from The Playground and Pro-Am because for gamers who want to switch between online and offline play, it makes too much sense to only have to grind up one player's stats in order to do so. It's preferable if we could choose between the two games. In this case, I believe that gamers who only play online would also benefit, as they would not be required to use the offline mode at all.