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.