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China is in the new NBA 2K, but does China care?

The NBA is huge in China, and so are NBA games

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS

The world’s biggest basketball game is adding Chinese basketball to the latest edition.

NBA 2K19's new storyline, titled The Way Back, follows a player named A.I. (who is nothing like Allen Iverson and has nothing to do with artificial intelligence). The trailer shows him playing for a fictional team in China, listening to a coach giving him orders in Mandarin... a language he doesn't understand.

After that, A.I. returns to the US to work his way up to the NBA through another minor league, leading Chinese gamers to joke that the new story mode should be called Socialist Transformation.

The game has a good fan base in China. NBA 2K Online, the Chinese version from Tencent, had 19 million registered users after a year of release.
And the country loves the NBA. Gamers (including our own Josh Ye) were really excited by the announcement that the game will have  famous Chinese commentators on PS4.

NBA 2K19 on PS4 will have an all-star Chinese commentary lineup

But in contrast, Chinese gamers don’t appear to care much about the new storyline. Instead, they have the same complaint as gamers in the West: Let us skip the story!

“I will buy it if I can skip the damn cutscenes,” one user commented on Hupu, a popular sports forum in China.

But others say they've spent a lot of money to upgrade their characters in the game... and that NBA 2K's new love for China might be because of that huge market of big spenders.

“America is trying really hard to win the Chinese market,” one user  says.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.