I was really excited to start playing NBA Playgrounds, especially given the popularity of its predecessor NBA JAM: On Fire Edition. Some great 2v2 action on the court, swiping, shoving and making impossible athletic leaps to dunk, all great stuff. So, naturally, upon installing it, I was eager to play with my Real Game Media cohorts, get some rounds in and have a blast.
Imagine then my surprise at discovering that NBA Playgrounds not only lacks many basic matchmaking features, it has absolutely no way for friends to play together online. Wait, what? You heard me right. The ability to play with your friends, whether cooperative against the AI or in teams against each other, simply is not present. This is, quite frankly, utterly inexcusable and indicative of a wider problem.
It seems that one of the things this generation of gaming will be remembered for is, unfortunately, the lack of features games have upon release. Not just any features though; instead features that should be extremely obvious, whose omission is not only surprising but jarring for consumers. For example, Star Wars Battlefront launched without any form of campaign or space combat. At least the space combat was added in through future DLC, however the campaign was not. To their credit, EA appears to have taken the feedback by making sure a single-player narrative is at the core of Star Wars Battlefront 2. Still, it shouldn’t have taken feedback to come to that conclusion.
They aren’t the only ones though. Halo 5: Guardians didn’t have split-screen support and fans made sure to voice their complaints. 343 Industries has promised future titles will support the feature, yet the fact it was an issue in the first place is eyebrow-raising. These are hardly the only games to make such weird mistakes, and now Saber Interactive’s NBA Playgrounds is the latest. They have stated that the ability to play with your friends is coming soon, though no actual time-frame has been given.
Why launch the game then? Especially after the success of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, there’s no way Saber Interactive didn’t know players would want to compete with their friends. It’s one of, if not THE major reason the game is so much fun. Launching a follow-up title without such a feature is not only an incredibly bad move for the appeal to gamers but also for the developer’s image. Whenever the update comes that allows friends to play together, I’m sure it’ll be fun. For now, however, I’ll be sticking to NBA Jam: On Fire Edition for when I want to play with my friends. I really hope we see less of these types of releases in the future.