Million Dollar Controversy: 2KSports and The Quest For The Perfect Game

Ben AikeyCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2010

If you watch TV or follow anything gaming-related, you already know about 2KSports and their new MLB 2K10 game. Released last week, a large selling point for most people is a contest they’re holding associated with the game: The first player to throw a perfect game will win $1 million.

You heard that right. 2KSports is going to pay seven figures to the first person to throw a perfect game. Is it that simple? Not even remotely.

I’m not here to plug the game, but it’s not bad. It’s realistic—you have to work the count to get hits, there’s some difficulty to pitching motions so it’s not as simple as button pushing anymore, and base stealing is nearly impossible if you don’t have the right player or situation.

But there are several aspects of the programming that make this nearly impossible. For example, your fielders are often lazy and will not make an attempt at a diving catch to save your perfect game.

Seriously? Last year, Dewayne Wise robbed Gabe Kapler of a home run to save Mark Buehrle’s perfect game. If a guy in real life will put forth that kind of effort, why can’t a video game character risk a fake injury to do the same?

Also, the addition of the catcher recommending pitches and locations is a nice touch, but why on earth would you call for five or six sliders in a row in the exact same position?

Enough griping about the game. The real problems with this contest lay in the rules.

By logging on to , you can view the requirements and official rules to the contest. To say this is airtight would be like saying the Mets suck: It’s just redundant.

First of all, the site provides a checklist of what you need to do to be eligible. Ok, fair enough; you have to define what’s legal so you don’t get sued, so I have no problem with the idea of a set of rules. But some of them are flat-out ridiculous.

2KSports clearly has something against five states, as you are not eligible to win the million if you live in Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, North Dakota, or Vermont. If you’re playing on someone else’s gamertag, you also can’t win. So don’t bother trying to play the game at a friend’s house, because neither of you will get credit.

They also want you to record the game. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is 2010. We have the technology to automatically post high scores on Guitar Hero to the Internet, but we can’t do the same with notifying Xbox Live of a perfect game?

Fine, break out the camcorder and record the game. But don’t forget to start with your TV and console completely off for at least five seconds or guess what? That’s right: You can’t win.

You also can’t interrupt the game in any way. God forbid bodily functions call, you can’t pause the game or your efforts are for nothing. Even more anal than that, you can’t call a mound visit to calm your pitcher down if his arm starts to go, and you can’t go more than 60 seconds without throwing a pitch.

Are these people going to sit down with a stopwatch and time everything?

You also have to use their total control pitching and hitting. So if you can’t get a hit with the right analog stick or deliver your pitches with the gesture motions, don’t even try.

If you do happen to throw the perfect game and get the verification code for your efforts, needless to say, you need to log on and input your information. Pretty standard procedure. Except they want the physical address of where this took place.

Are you kidding? How is that relevant? It makes it sound like they’re immediately going to put surveillance on the place and make sure you don’t leave the house.

So you get that all done and then you have to mail them a DVD of your perfect game. They say to keep one copy for your records, but that goes without saying. But you have to log all of this information and get it to them within two days of the recording. So if you happen to do it on a Friday night, I guess you’re screwed there too since FedEx won’t be running Saturday or Sunday, and local post offices vary in their Saturday hours.

Looking at the official rules, they gave PC users a big middle finger, as only Xbox 360 and Playstation3 users are eligible. They just keep narrowing it down further and further huh? I guess PC users can mod the game in their favor much easier, but still, it’s a slap in the face to those that don’t indulge in console gaming.

Scrolling through the official rules, yet another crucial piece of information can be found: “Judging begins on May 2, 2010 and shall continue until such time as a winner is verified…Judging may take approximately four-six weeks after Contest end date.”

You’re serious again, aren’t you?

This is where I draw the line. It’s a complete lack of courtesy to run the contest for two whole months and not judge a single entry until the end date. You can at least judge entries immediately and end the contest early if a winner is discovered after, say, a week or two.

But no, you wait until it’s all over, putting countless people in suspense and prompt hundreds of thousands of gamers to waste their time when the contest is probably already over.

You can see the backlash on the 2KSports forums. There’s a sticky thread dedicated entirely to the contest, and if there was such a thing as an unruly mob on the Internet, I’d say you could find it here.

Users claim to have posted a perfect game, including screenshots of confirmation codes, yet are subject to ridicule and verbal abuse by other registered users. It feels like the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where someone claims they found the last ticket, only to be confirmed as a fraud.

Claims of “that looks photo-shopped” or “post the entire game online as proof” seem to show up every other entry. They even call out the forum administrators to confirm whether someone’s posted entry is legitimate.

2K Admin Ron was so kind as to post in this thread a simple message: “I would not stop playing until you hear from us/Twin Galaxies unless you want to be sorry. Don’t trust anyone until the contest is done.”

Once again, that’s right—2KSports isn’t even judging the contest themselves. They’ve hired an outside consultant (in this case, a company that tracks video game records…you really can’t make this stuff up) to do all the dirty work.

And what’s with that last part “unless you want to be sorry?” It comes across as more threatening than helpful.

I never thought I would see so much animosity and bitterness over a video game. Sure, some of us get angry and fling a controller across the room if we lose our last man on Contra or something like that, but this goes too far.

2KSports, I hope you’re proud of yourselves. You took something that should have been fun and thoroughly ruined it, creating bad press for yourselves in the process. Shame on you.