2K Sports’ NBA 2K franchise has thrived on the use of Virtual Currency (VC) and micro-transactions for the better part of a decade. VC is earned and used in every major game mode in NBA 2K19, including MyGM, MyCareer, and MyTeam.
The single most popular game type is MyCareer, in which your created NBA Baller progresses through a storyline that sees your not quite good enough player skipped over in the NBA Entry Draft. From there, you’ll work your way through the Chinese Basketball Association and eventually get your shot on a real NBA Team. You’ll be able to continue playing the single player season “story” mode or go straight to the online park for modes like 3v3 and Rec Center.
You’ll use VC in MyCareer primarily for upgrading your character’s statistics to make him a better shooter, rebounder, defender, or overall athlete. Other than that, you’ll be able to use VC to purchase a variety of temporary boosts to statistics and energy, as well as cosmetic items like t-shirts, hats, jewelry, and tattoos.
Players who want to get a quick leg up on the competition (or have access to mom’s credit card) have the option to purchase VC directly to upgrade their players. This is where 2K has drawn heavy criticism for pushing their games towards a “pay to win” model. While I personally join in that criticism for game modes like MyTeam, where the winners and loses depend mostly on who spent the most to craft their team of virtual ballers, the MyCareer experience actively prevents you from leveling up your character without putting in the work.
MyCareer introduced “cap breakers” that limit your player from reaching his full potential until you’ve spent enough time grinding through the NBA season or putting up buckets at the park. When you upgrade your player, you’ll see white hash-marks that show you your player’s potential for each statistic. You’ll only be able to reach that statistic by filling up the cap breaker meter, which will unlock another level of specific player statistics until you reach the white hash-mark.
The cap-breaker system turns the “pay-to-win” system that has plagued NBA 2K games on its head. Anyone with a pocket full of VC can get their player from a 60 overall to an 80+ for a jump start on their MyCareer, but that same progression doesn’t take very long to do with legitimate play. The only way to reach 90+ is to EARN IT, which is a welcome addition that may single-handedly save this game mode and keep players from getting frustrated by players with deep pockets and shallow skills.