NBA 2K20's Gambling-Heavy Trailer: Ratings Board Responds To MyTeam Video And Criticisms

When is gambling actually gambling?


European video game age-rating organisation PEGI has responded to complaints filed by some after watching the NBA 2K20 MyTeam trailer released last week. The video is largely focused on the various mini-games players have access to as a means of winning in-game rewards, featuring standard casino games such as slot machines and prize wheels. NBA 2K20 is rated E for Everyone in the US and PEGI-3 in Europe.

The fact that the game can be legally bought by children led Reddit user Anime-NoireChan to email PEGI directly. They shared the board's reply, which Eurogamer has since verified.

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The full PEGI statement says, "We have seen the announcement trailer of NBA 2K20 and noticed the controversy it has caused. We feel it is important to carefully explain when certain content is triggering the gambling descriptor in the PEGI system, but also to show when it does not at this moment.

"A video game gets the gambling content descriptor if it contains moving images that encourage and/or teach the use of games of chance that are played/carried out as a traditional means of gambling.

"We use a help text to clarify this in more detail: This refers to types of betting or gambling for money that is normally played/carried out in casinos, gambling halls, racetracks. This does not cover games where betting or gambling is simply part of the general storyline. The game must actually teach the player how to gamble or bet and/or encourage the player to want to gamble or bet for money in real life.

"For example, this will include games that teach the player how to play card games that are usually played for money or how to play the odds in horse racing.

"It is important to stress that the controversial imagery played a central role in the trailer, but it may not necessarily do so in the game, which has not yet been released.

"At this point in time, PEGI can only comment on the trailer that has been made publicly available.

"The trailer includes imagery that is generally known from casinos (wheel of fortune, slot machines). Using this sort of mechanic to select an item, or character, or action by chance is not the same as teaching how to gamble for money in a casino. These differences currently prevent us from applying the gambling descriptor. But we are very aware that it may get too close for comfort for some people, and that is part of an internal discussion that PEGI is having for the moment. The games industry is evolving constantly (and rapidly in recent years). As a rating organisation, we need to ensure that these developments are reflected in our classification criteria. We do not base our decisions on the content of a single trailer, but we will properly assess how the rating system (and the video games industry in general) should address these concerns."

Although PEGI isn't applying the gambling rating to NBA 2K20 just yet, the statement suggests it may do so after seeing the final game. If it does apply the descriptor, NBA 2K20 would lose its PEGI-3 rating in Europe. It would be interesting to see if the ESRB follows suit in the US.

NBA 2K20 launches on September 6 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. Check out our NBA 2K20 pre-order guide for all the info on pre-order bonuses and what's included in the Digital Deluxe and Legend editions. You can also download a free demo for NBA 2K20 right now.

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