NBA2K18 Is Removing User Made Content From The Game Over IP Infringement, Refuses Refunds To Anyone Who Bought It

from the airball dept

One of the tensions in the digital world that I find fascinating is what a content or platform creator must feel when deciding just how much freedom it wants to give to its fans. The benefits of giving fans the freedom to tinker is especially noticeable in the video game space, where long traditions exist for modding and making custom user-created content. Most game publishers' embrace of this sort of thing ranges from a wink and a nod to actively fostering the modding community.

The NBA2K series, on the other hand, has actually incorporated custom made content into the game's platform, allowing players to create and share custom clothing and accessory designs. The latest iteration of the game is no different, although this version of the game is notably allowing this custom content to be sold for the same "virtual currency" (VC) used everywhere else in the game. VC can be earned through play, or bought with real world money. All of this was going along swimmingly until 2K discovered, shockingly, that its custom content store was full of designs that pretty clearly infringed on all kinds of trademarks and other intellectual property.

In NBA 2K18, players can create custom shirts in myCareer mode, which can then be voted on by other players. These are purely cosmetic items that will show up on a player character in the myPark portion of the game, where players play 3 on 3 street basketball. If the shirt reaches 100 votes, the player who created it can sell it for the game’s virtual currency, VC. Shirts initially went for 3,500 VC, but last month 2K made all custom shirts free. You can buy 15,000 VC for five dollars. The problem is a lot of players are making shirts with copyrighted logos or mimicking real brands.

Players on Reddit and YouTube are saying that both shirts they’ve created and shirts they have purchased are being removed from their inventories. One player who reached out to Kotaku was able to get a shirt refunded for his shirts, but said that he only got 10,000 VC, the price of about three shirts, when he says he paid for 10 shirts total at 3,500 VC each.

That person's account appears to be shared by others on Twitter and elsewhere. So, 2K created a platform for custom made content, allowed its customers to buy that content, and then nixed the content without offering a full refund? That's not a good look from a publisher.

What's also missing from the accounts on Reddit of those that made this infringing custom content is any sort of notice from 2K about their work being taken down, or the reason behind the takedowns. It appears that instead, the publisher just disappeared the content, sending it into the void. To be clear, the company can police its game in this manner, but it could have given custom content creators notice of a copyright claim at the very least.

So, by playing copyright cops, 2K has managed to piss off both the buyers and sellers of user-made game content. Much of that content is indeed plainly infringing, but refusing to make good with the customers that bought the content on 2K's platform, using 2K's currency, to be played in 2K's game, is a horrible look.


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  • identicon
    Nick-B, 14 Dec 2017 @ 4:58pm

    "Incentive"

    If we don't police copyright infringement, what will be someones incentive to invent T-shirts if someone somewhere is getting virtual currency (not exchangeable for anything but more virtual clothes) for making a virtual recreation (not a copy-paste, they did work to remake it) in a virtual game (not real life)?

    Won't someone PLEASE think of the children (copyright-owners)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2017 @ 6:37pm

    Virtual

    I don't understand why it should matter in the least what designs are in a game. It isn't real. Nothing that happens there will affect anyone here beyond people being stupid and being offended by fiction. Unless people have applied for and received copyright inside of your fictitious alternate virtual reality, nothing that has happened outside of that universe affects anything inside of it and vice versa. IP infringement only has power because you believe in it. Stop giving it power and it goes away forever for the improvement of life for everyone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 14 Dec 2017 @ 10:54pm

    I can't help but imagine

    I can't help but imagine ICE showing up at the game publisher to seize the infringing merch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Dec 2017 @ 12:57am

    Do the math... pissing off a bunch of customers who will still buy your next DLC & game without batting an eye vs. the 3000 trademark & copyright lawsuits filed against them over digital crap in a game where they will win huge damages because why wouldn't they?

    Easy decision. Players have been screwed out of virtual cash & things before... and they are still customers. Every outrage is only as scary as how long it lasts... 2K could offer a free glittery ball to everyone screwed & they'd shut up. 2K can also do nothing & these same people will be in line at the next release.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2017 @ 5:39am

      Re:

      Exactly right. Gamers are stupid and STAND IN LINE to hand money to the same companies that have screwed them over repeatedly. I have no sympathy for them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2017 @ 7:45am

        Re: Re:

        please, tell me more about how you're lumping the entire gaming community into a stereotype...

        There are people in the community that do boycott the companies that have wronged them.

        As for why some would come back, there could be multiple reasons.

        1. The people coming back may not know that they have been screwed over, or wasn't personally affected by it. (as often happens with much younger kids)
        2. Games are often thought of either of it own merits, or the merits of other games in the series if said game belongs to one. (this is more noticed in indie games)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2017 @ 1:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "1. The people coming back may not know that they have been screwed over, or wasn't personally affected by it. (as often happens with much younger kids)"

          So gamers are stupid AND uninformed about the very companies they patronize and the products they buy.

          "2. Games are often thought of either of it own merits, or the merits of other games in the series if said game belongs to one. (this is more noticed in indie games)"

          So gamers are stupid AND have amnesia that kicks in the moment they see something they want.

          Look, if the gaming community wasn't a pack of fucking mouth-breathing morons, then NONE of the companies that pull this kind of crap would exist. They would be starved of revenue immediately and permanently -- or they would be forced to rescind all their anti-customer policies.

          But that hasn't happened. The companies that TD has covered over and over and over again as they've ripped off gamers are (mostly) doing perfectly fine. So of course they'll do it again: gamers taught them that they can.

          You want me to stop lumping all gamers together? Okay. Fine. Show me when they grow fucking spines. Show me when they boycott one, and then another, and then another one of these companies and drive them out of business. Show me when they have the self-control, the resolve, and the intelligence to nail some hides to the wall -- and thus shift the way the industry works.

          Until then: gamers are stupid, and they deserve to be lied to, ripped off, and victimized. They're BEGGING for it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2017 @ 3:10am

    Microtransactions be damned

    This, surely, is one of the consequences of greedy developers / publishers putting free-to-play mobile game-style microtransactions into full price retail games.

    For years, users have recreated company logos and so on, often very accurately, and a blind eye was almost always turned. Dare I say, some companies might even have privately welcomed it; free advertising.

    But, when you introduce the ability to pay real money (for in-game money) to buy in-game items, well now that's commercial exploitation of those trademarks, isn't it?

    Of course, if gamers would refuse to buy into this gouging, microtransactions would be removed very quickly. But hey, gotta have that roster update, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DONT BE STUPID BE EDUCATED, 15 Dec 2017 @ 4:15am

    OH MY GAWD

    its not like that crap can be really worn and if your so called crap is in there its FREE GAWD DAMN ADVERTISING FOR THE REAL THING

    ARE PEOPLE IN THIS UNIVERSE EVER RETARDED

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 15 Dec 2017 @ 7:30am

    The sad thing is the company should have a record of every purchase made, by who, and for what amount. Should be easy to roll everything back. Not like they are having to refund real money.

    Worse is the fact they didn't see this coming and have a published plan/warning about using copyright content on the custom clothing.

    The sad thing is they probably DO need to worry about some copyright holder suing over game players using copyright images in game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 15 Dec 2017 @ 2:03pm

    EULA...

    ...and so, that rarely used clause in the EULA that players cannot hold the publisher liable for anything, including IP infringement, come back to haunt them...players and publishers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David (profile), 15 Dec 2017 @ 3:14pm

    2K, not a good look.

    They are one of the worst publishers in the business. They routinely pitched (and sold) divisive releases of games to different retailers. Borderlands was my intersection with their practices. One retailer had an arena, other had specific weapons and none of it was available to others. Until a GOTY was released any player would automatically limited to a subset of the game.

    2K, crooks to the core.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 17 Dec 2017 @ 4:26pm

    Things like this happen and people blame the publisher for not giving refunds or copyright and trademark law for being so ridiculous. Yet, nobody ever blames the fact that game publishers now have the ability to delete content from your system. Game companies should NEVER have that ability!

    Nobody seems to care that we keep handing more and more control to game companies. One day you'll go to play a game you thought you owned and you'll see a message telling you that your game has been bricked until you start paying a monthly subscription fee.

    It's so frustrating because today's games look amazing, but I refuse to pay money for anything that comes with a digital leash attached to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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