[Update 9/23/2017: The Sixth Axis have updated their review and have restored the 3/10 score. Additionally, they issued a statement on why the score was removed and what wording they changed to the review after interacting with 2K’s PR team. You can view the statement here.]
[Original Article:] If Jeff Gerstmann was in the grave this would be the sort of news that one would expect to make him roll in said grave. But since he’s not in the grave he’ll probably shrug and say “Meh” on Twitter. While this heinous act of a publisher strong-arming a gaming outlet into removing a low score for a game isn’t quite as bad as Gamespot firing Jeff Gerstmann for giving Kane & Lynch a middling score of 6 out of 10, it’s still bad enough to make gamers hang their head in shame and tweet furiously about the incident.
The Sixth Axis has a notice on the review page stating that the original score that they gave the game was being retracted. The review currently has a “Score: Pending” in place of a final verdict, as of the writing of this article.
The notice states…
“In discussion with 2K Games, we’ve temporarily removed the score pending a statement with regard to our criticisms, at which point it will be reinstated. Additionally, a draft conclusion was posted that incorrectly characterised our score as a protest vote, and has been reworded to reflect that our criticisms are rooted in the effect that VC and microtransactions have on the gameplay.”
The review was originally published on September 21st, 2017. According to the Wayback Machine’s only capture, it only shows the article with the current “Score: Pending”, so the change must have happened shortly after the article was published, and before anyone could save an archive.
As of the writing of this article, OpenCritic also lists The Sixth Axis review score as void, for now.
The score is also absent from Metacritic, where they list the site as having their review “In Progress & Unscored”.
Before the zipper-fast edit was made, those on NeoGaf noticed that the score was originally 3 out of 10 on OpenCritic, and proceeded to question the staff from The Sixth Axis about the score being modified. Sixth Axis staff member Aran Suddi, going by the handle of OriginalJonty, had originally posted that the score was 3 out of 10 due to a protest against the microtransactions, writing…
“My review is now live for NBA 2K18. Before I continue note I’ve been reviewing the series since 2K13.
“TheSixthAxis – 3/10
“The score is more of a protest against how bad the grind for VC has got, turning the series from a great basketball experience to a free to play model with a high entry price.”
After the score was removed, Suddi had to explain to the forum what happened and why, noting that 2K’s PR got in contact with the site editor of The Sixth Axis and that he had no contact with them because the review “ruffled quite a few feathers”. Suddi also went on to explain in another post…
“After review went live I’ve had no direct contact with 2K, instead their PR is chatting with my editor. All I know is that 2K are to issue a statement of some sort regarding issues raised in the review. Of course the real issue is what updates the 2K18’s VC system gets.
“Just think of this as a review now in progress. If things remain unchanged so will my opinion.”
The thread didn’t seem too happy with the idea that a reviewer’s opinion could change based on interference from the public relations representative from 2K Games.
Ultimately if they were confident enough and comfortable with the microtransactions that were implemented into the game before going gold, then they should have been comfortable enough with the review scores that followed.
Other outlets also chimed in to criticize 2K Games about the decision…
Not a fan of The Sixth Axis removing the 3/10 score from their NBA 2K18 review after being contacted by 2K … pic.twitter.com/7Hd9lfK8If
— Gaming Reinvented (@GamingReinvent) September 22, 2017
Disappointing to hear Sixth Axis pulled its 3/10 for NBA 2k18 after publisher pressure. I think they scored it much too high to begin with.
— niall (@YourPalNiall) September 21, 2017
NBA 2K18 is already being pelted incessantly by the user reviews on sites like Metacritic and on the Steam user review page. Many gamers feel the review bombing is necessary given how intrusive the microtransactions are. Now it’s just a matter of seeing if The Sixth Axis updates the review with a better score or if they stick to their guns and keep the 3 out of 10 as a form of protest, just as they originally intended.