2K Sports Botches Their Perfect Game $1 Million Contest

from the it's-just-so-baseball dept

Ah, baseball. The national pasttime (for every month the NFL isn’t playing) is rife with the most wonderful of traditions: Fenway’s Green Monster, cheating, Wrigley’s ivy, cheating, the divisional rivalries, cheating, the evil empire Yankees, and, of course, cheating.

Yes, it seems that for as long as baseball has been in existence, scandal has followed in its wake. We’re finally beginning to emerge from the steroids era, but those of us that love the game are also familiar with the spitballs, corked bats, stolen signs, Pete Rose, and the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. And so it’s perhaps with little surprise and a shrug of the shoulders that we receive news from Deadspin that at least one of this year’s $1 Million dollar candidates of 2K Sports’ MLB2K12 Perfect Game Challenge rigged things in his favor. And there may be more.

For those of you not familiar with the game or the promotion, for the past several years, 2K Sports has paid out $1 Million to the winner of their Perfect Game Challenge. If you can manage to pitch a perfect game against the computer opponent (no hits, walks, or errors in a complete game shutout), you’re entered into their bracket to play against the other perfectos, culminating in a championship being awarded on Spike TV. It’s a big deal, especially for a game franchise that basically has this contest going for it and nothing else. But, as Deadspin’s Owen Good notes, there’s a problem:

“Two days ago, I reported on an exploit within MLB 2K12’s $1 Million Perfect Game Challenge, in which contestants in the qualifying round of the contest could substitute opposing batters before the game began and still throw an eligible perfect game. I reported very strong evidence indicating that one of the eight finalists 2K Sports is flying to New York this week used the exploit in pitching his perfect game. And that same person has said he believed others in the finalist pool used it too.

That player was William Haff, who insists that his perfect game is legitimate. Ah, it’s so simple! Just sub out every good hitter on the other team before the game starts! Face nothing but .200 hitters and we’re in the clear.

In the end, I don’t know that I can put the blame for this on Haff or any of the other finalists who may have also used this exploit. The blame belongs on the game developers and the ones running the contest. The very idea that 2K Sports would have allowed this in their famous (now infamous?) contest surely caused the kind of stunned embarassement that would result in a heartfelt mea culpa, right? Especially since there was something like 900 other players that threw perfect games, most of which likely were far more legitimate than Haff’s substitution-filled no-no. According to 2K Sports…not so much.

“The contest was run properly,” 2K Sports said. “We look forward to awarding someone a million dollars on May 10 in New York.”

In the end, I’ll feel a bit bad for the honest gamers who threw a perfecto and won’t get the chance at the money because of dubious actions such as those of William Haff. But mostly I’ll chuckle at the fact that 2K Sports’ game at least got one part of their baseball simulation correct: cheating. Haff used the exploit that 2K Sports allowed for and explained it away by pointing out there’s no rule against it in the contest…much the same way as Jose Canseco could explain his steroid use in the 90’s by saying Major League Baseball had no rules against it. And technically, both of them are right.

But they’re also both wrong. 

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Companies: 2k sports

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Comments on “2K Sports Botches Their Perfect Game $1 Million Contest”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

2K Sports director of marketing, Paul Christoforo, had this to say. Suck it up princess! Any PR is good PR. Everyone will be talking about 2K Sports and we are sure this will cement our license renewal to make the game.

It is bad enough when people incorrectly think there is something fishy happening, it is much worse when you can show the company claimed no substitutions publicly but in the end people who moved into the finals had made substitutions.

Even handed proof that at least 1 winner wasn’t actually legit this is a bad response.

“The contest was run properly,” 2K Sports said. “We look forward to awarding someone a million dollars on May 10 in New York.”

The code didn’t stop someone from fixing the game and getting certified. The lawyers didn’t add a rule to stop it. They said it wasn’t allowed but did nothing to stop it. They expected with a million dollar prize everyone would do it “right”, and people who did it right and didn’t exploit got bumped for people who did.

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Ahh 2k Sports....

I remember when it was NFL 2k, 2k1… when they were competitive with Madden 2k, 2k1… But that was before Madden bought out the exclusive right to the NFL branding… and basically killed any competition… Because people only wanted to play _real_ sports teams.

From this article… It sounds like they got real players now at least.. but ehh…

BentFranklin (profile) says:

Morality in online gaming isn’t always so cut and dried. It’s a gray area whether or not to use the program as it is offered or to stick to more stringent written or unwritten rules. The abilities coded into the software can validly be called a set of rules. What some call an exploit others call using the potential of the game to its fullest. Every game has this issue, and game boards are rife with arguments among believers on both sides claiming the gray area zealously.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:


“US sports now are like the US car industry c 1965 – very successful locally – but irrelevant in the rest of the world.”

That’s so wrong, it’s unbelievable you’d say it. The NFL is a worldwide monster. The NBA has billboards up in China, for Christ’s sake. MLB is followed all throughout Central/South America and Asia.

Rugby and Soccer DO have the advantage of actually competing internationally, but let’s not pretend that US Pro Sports isn’t the worldwide follow that it is….

Anonymous Coward says:

He played to win

As lame as exploiting something like this is, he completed the task within the confines of the rules and reaped the rewards. While it seems scummy, he didn’t break the rules. If you want to win, you have to play to win, and that means using every inch given to you by the rules and regulations. It would be unfair to strip him of his standing due to a rule change. Look at Chapparal in the old Can-Am racing league’s crazy cars like the 2J, that let them corner at insane speeds, or Mazda’s 787b Le Mans entry. Or tire warmers in current Le Mans competition. If you want to win you play to win, and anything not against the rules is fair game.

anonymous says:

I thought that it was only the 1st person that threw a perfect game that would win the contest. hmm; not that I’m against an ol’ fashioned cheat: I’ve certainly done my fair share over the years. But it really shouldn’t count if you’re subbing the opposing team’s players.

On a somewhat unrelated note…

Since You guys mentioned 2kSports & the NFL, you should seriously do a post about 2kSports & Madden.
NFL2k5 gave Madden ’05 a serious run 4 its money. NFL2k5 was David going up against Goliath; 2k had a better game, according to critics & the majority of people who played both comparitively (minus Madden fanboys, of course) & it was a hell of a lot cheaper ($20 in order 4 them to compete).

EA’s sales slipped in favor of 2k’s product, so they lowered their price that year to $30, after, as an EA developer put it, “it scared the hell out of us.”

How does EA respond? By snatching up an exclusivity deal which locks out any & all competition…
W/o any competition there is no need to innovate and EA gets away with selling you roster updates for $50-60 every year, which they did the following season.

They stifled their own, as well as the competition’s creativity and innovation, 2k’s studios dissolved, people lost their jobs & EA rehashes old games every year w/ no real updates or advancements, paying more attention and “$’s” to marketing rather than the substance of its game.

Ahh, “Free-Market Corporate Capitalism” where Money Talks, and every1 else Walks home or plays by EA’s rules.

-there’s currently a class action anti-trust lawsuit which was certified by a US district court judge.

Richard (profile) says:


That’s so wrong, it’s unbelievable you’d say it.

Wound you up though, didn’t it? 😉

The NFL is a worldwide monster. The NBA has billboards up in China, for Christ’s sake. MLB is followed all throughout Central/South America and Asia.

Rugby and Soccer DO have the advantage of actually competing internationally, but let’s not pretend that US Pro Sports isn’t the worldwide follow that it is….

The key word being “follow”.

To me sport has to have a participation and/or identification element and the lack of genuine international competition is a major weakness on American sport.

Havoing said that it is also true that much club level Soccer and Cricket is now heavily dependent on international stars who render local allegiance somewhat moot.

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