With the announcement of NBA 2K16’s 2K Pro-Am mode, it has created a lot of excitement for the upcoming game, but also the resurfacing of a topic that has no easy answer: the question of whether the mode should allow CPU / AI or require all humans to play a game. Whichever side of the fence you are on, here we will discuss how the format of allowing CPU teammates can create some problems for NBA 2K16’s new 2K Pro-Am mode:
1) It Undermines the Main Purpose of Online Multiplayer
1) For most people, online multiplayer means a mode for organic, raw, manual, dynamic, human competition. The chance to go ‘mano e mano’, skill vs skill, my best 5 vs your best 5, etc. If I wanted to test my skills vs the CPU, I’d play offline. Online multiplayer, particularly in a mode where every character has their own created My Player, is the one place where one shouldn’t have to worry about any CPU involvement, or any CPU cheese that comes along with that.
If NBA 2K16 wishes to truly capture the essence and “simulate” the sport of basketball (5 on 5, all humans, similar to real life), and the nature of online multiplayer, it’d do away with this format and require teams to consist of all human players. One could argue that the all-human dynamic is the primary reason why the MyPark and Jordan Rec Center modes are so appealing and hugely popular. Because a player knows that the entire mode is made up of human players in real time, no CPU. There is a dynamism and electricity that that dynamic inherently creates and that will never be able to be replicated by CPU teammates or the AI.
2) It Corrupts Fair Competition
For example, if one group of 3 humans with 2 CPU is playing a group of 5 humans, that creates imbalance and inconsistency from game to game. One game you’re guarded by the CPU, the next you’re not, etc. It means one squad can deploy cheesey CPU strategy, call for CPU screens and double teams, call plays, etc, while the other can’t access those advantages. It means you only need 3 guys to be in sync instead of 5. Why should one squad have that unfair advantage? If fair competition, an equal playing field, and a consistent experience is the goal, this format entirely misses the mark.
3) It Corrupts Accurate Stat Tracking and the Leaderboard
This is simple math. Instead of 5 guys having to create their own rhythm and chemistry and the stats that go along with that, 3 guys can pad their stats because they won’t even have to worry about feeding the rock to an entire squad. Bloated, inaccurate stats will be the norm due to this and this will affect the accuracy of stats and the leaderboard. Why have a leaderboard if the designed format allows for it to be easily manipulated and corrupted?
4) Those Lacking a Full Roster Have Alternative Options
If users don’t have enough people – they still have several viable options: 1) Play MyPARK 2) Build a friends list (an accepted expectation for any online multiplayer mode) 3) Play a different mode that already has CPU involved in it.
Granted, the game isn’t out yet, so we don’t know how the format of allowing CPU players will play out yet. Hopefully every team will be matched by number of players, or all rosters will have 5 players. But due to the several reasons above, this existing format of allowing CPU players to be part of the action looks like a flawed one.