Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five annoying stats bugs that have shown up in various basketball games over the years.
Stats in basketball video games are perhaps just as important as they are in the real NBA. Sure, we want to see life-like animations, realistic strategy, and play games that feel good on the sticks, but accurate scores and statistics are a major factor in having as much realism as possible in a sim-oriented title. Even if you’re a gamer who takes a more casual approach to the accuracy of simulated and user-generated stats, chances are you’re interested in the stat-tracking aspect of basketball games, especially if you enjoy putting up big numbers on the virtual hardwood.
Unfortunately for gamers who care about stats one way another – whether it’s posting huge numbers every game, or enjoying a realistic style of gameplay with more true-to-life performances – various games have featured annoying bugs related to the in-game statistics. From undesirable sim engine results to errors with stat tracking and displays, these glitches have adversely affected some aspect of the numbers that are accumulated on the virtual hardwood. Be it a lack of accuracy or just a feeling of accomplishment that you feel cheated out of, here are five of the most annoying stats bugs that have been encountered in basketball video games.
1. No Such Thing as DNP-CD (NBA Live 2002)
I’ll admit that I’ve taken liberties with realism when it comes to my franchise gaming over the years. From unlikely trades to unlikely performances, I’ve had a lot of fun creating my own reality, and writing my own NBA history. However, I do want to see accuracy in stat-tracking, and that proved to be a problem as I played through my Franchise game with the Sacramento Kings in NBA Live 2002. Just as not every player will see court time game-to-game in the real NBA, there were plenty of times throughout my season that I didn’t use everyone in the active rotation. For a couple of my deep bench players, it was often a case of “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision”.
A bug in NBA Live 2002 prevented the season stats from recognising such coaching decisions, however. As long as a player was placed on the active roster, a game would be added to their total games played on the season, even if they tallied zero minutes in any given contest. The bug only occurred when playing games, so when simulating, it was possible for players on the active roster to notch DNP-CDs. Aside from being an inaccurate count of the number of games played, the bug obviously affected averages, and was annoying if you liked messing around with your rotation and keeping tabs on your players’ stats. Fortunately, the bug was fixed in NBA Live 2003.
2. Turnovers on Deflections (NBA Live 06)
NBA Live 06 PC is one of my all-time favourite games – both overall and in the NBA Live series – but it also features a stats bug that’s always annoyed me. Any deflection that doesn’t end in a steal (or a shot clock violation while the ball is still loose) will result in a turnover being tallied. This means if you tip a pass out of bounds, or your opponent manages to recover the loose ball, the player who made the deflection will be hit with a turnover. As you might expect, this bug can cause a significant artificial inflation in the amount of turnovers game-to-game and on the season, especially if you’re fond of trying to play the passing lanes.
These days, a bug like that might be fixed by an official patch, but back in 2005, not every game received such fixes. It was impossible to push them through on console, and even the PC releases were lucky if they received one official patch per game. If they did, there was no guarantee that they’d address the laundry list of bugs that the community had noted. Unfortunately, NBA Live 06 did not receive an official patch, and unlike the issue with saving stats in NBA Live 2005, the community was unable to devise an unofficial workaround. The stats would have you believe that far too many turnovers occurred in NBA Live 06, but in truth, only a few tended to be legit.
3. Inconsistent Assist Tallying (Various NBA 2K Games)
This is an issue we’re still dealing with as of NBA 2K18, and as someone who likes to rack up dimes in MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am, I find it particularly frustrating. In a nutshell, there’s a legacy issue in NBA 2K where assists don’t register if the player receiving the pass bobbles it slightly, or if a defender gets a hand on it but doesn’t actually steal or noticeably deflect it. Except, of course, for the random times when an assist does actually get tallied under those circumstances. There are also plenty of other inconsistencies when it comes to the length of time it takes the recipient to score, how many dribbles they take, and what direction they move in.
Sometimes, it’s possible to tally an assist by passing to a teammate in the backcourt, and having them dribble the length of the floor for a basket. Other times, starting at the three-point line and taking a couple of dribbles is enough to negate the assist. If you take a step back for a three, or make a move sideways for a midrange shot, the assist often won’t count. Moving towards the basket and pulling up is usually OK, though. The problem has persisted for at least six games now, and aside from not giving us the satisfaction of racking up stats, it also adds up to cost us VC. If I’m being completely honest though, I just want those glorious dimes on my stat sheet.
4. Completely Broken Simulated Stats (NBA Live 08)
There have been quite a few basketball games with questionable sim engine logic, resulting in player stats that don’t look quite right, as well as standings and Playoff winners that look even worse. I’m not sure any game has been quite as bad as the PC and PlayStation 2 version of NBA Live 08, though. The game was a heavily flawed release across the board, but the broken sim engine and the stats it produced stand out as one of its biggest problems, especially for Dynasty enthusiasts. Worse yet, NBA Live 08’s sim engine utilised a new file that was far more difficult to edit, making the community’s attempts to fix the problems on PC very hit and miss at best.
How bad was it? Bigs led the league in three-point shooting, long before stretch fours and fives were in vogue, and with numbers that would put Stephen Curry to shame. Blocks, steals, and rebounds all tended to be far too low, and the wrong players led the league in those categories. Assists weren’t much better, to say nothing of field goal and free throw percentages. The generated stats in previous games had some issues here and there, but nothing as bad as what we experienced in NBA Live 08 PC. That version was definitely an afterthought by that point, and not surprisingly, the issue remained in the PS2 version of NBA Live 09, the last game to use the engine.
5. Those Aren’t Your Stats! (NBA 2K18)
Although this isn’t the most troublesome bug on the list, I’ve discovered an issue with the stats that are displayed when viewing other gamers’ 2K cards in NBA 2K18 that is somewhat annoying. You’re meant to be able to view other people’s stats from their MyCAREER games – listed as their NBA stats – but when I’ve tried to do that with my friends on the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad, it shows me my stats instead of theirs. Not only that, but they’re my numbers accurate as of a few games ago, rather than my most up-to-date stats. The total number of games played is also incorrect, being four more than I’ve actually played so far (despite the stats being behind).
Glancing at the 2K cards for random players currently on the same server as me, there doesn’t appear to be an issue. I can’t confirm whether or not the stats I’m seeing are correct, but they’re not the same numbers I’m seeing when I view the 2K cards for all my 2K Pro-Am teammates, so they probably are accurate. Again, it’s not a major issue compared to some of the other bugs on this list, and all other stats screens seem to be working properly (though our 2K Pro-Am record is currently displayed as 0-0 in the smartphone interface). It’s just another sloppy bug in NBA 2K18, a game that has felt disappointingly unpolished in many areas, crucial and cosmetic.
What are some other bugs related to stats in basketball video games that have annoyed you over the years? Let me know in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.