EA Sports had a rough start to this generation with its signature line of sports titles, but for the most part they’ve rallied: Madden, NCAA Football, FIFA, Tiger Woods – despite inauspicious releases over the closing years of the Bush administration, they’ve steadily evolved into quality, entertaining annual showcases of the sports they simulate.
The same can’t be said for the developer’s NBA franchise; it’s still in desperate need of a rebound. And already in the midst of a three-year hiatus – one which includes the failed relabeling attempt NBA Elite – the series was hit with yet another, albeit unsurprising setback this Thursday: NBA Live 13 has officially been cancelled.
Andrew Wilson, Executive VP of EA Sports, regretfully confirmed the news yesterday in an official statement, imploring fans to hold out one more year. Wilson claims that the decision took “a lot of consideration,” but after shifting development from EA Tiburon to EA Canada; pooling innovations and technology from other EA Sports titles; and overhauling community outreach to foster “an even deeper level of [fan] engagement,” the game wasn’t prepared to meet its inherently high bar for quality:
“…making great games is not easy, and we’re just not there yet on NBA LIVE 13. Having continued to look at the game over the past few days, it’s clear that we won’t be ready in October. And rather than launch midway through the season, we’re going to sit out the full year and stay focused on making next year’s game great.”
For devotees of EA’s professional hoops sim (assuming such a demographic still exists), continual underwhelming news has grown older than the Boston Celtics. NBA Live never managed to establish itself as a quality series in the current console generation, and after stumbling through the unflattering sales performances of NBA Live 08, 09, and 10, EA Canada resolved to rebrand the then-sixteen-year-old series.
The result was NBA Elite. It failed miserably. EA was forced to delay the title from October 2010 to March 2011 after causing a mild uproar with a bug-infested demo release (made famous by Lakers center
Jesus of Nazareth Andrew Bynum). Eventually EA CEO John Riccetiello decided to bring the hammer down on Elite entirely save for a milquetoast mobile offering, and the series was again repositioned – this time with a long-term development plan in mind.
The goal – a game that delivered on the radical new control mechanics promised in Elite, implementing enough innovation and quality for the series to thrive in the future – was intended to be NBA Live 13 this October (Check out the teaser trailer above). Now, most likely, it’s NBA Live 14, though it’s almost futile to predict where EA sees its beleaguered baller as the current generation draws to a close.
Ranters, is yet another year off the hardwood beneficial to NBA Live? Will EA Sports ever again manage to rival the NBA 2K series?
Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.
Source: EA Sports