It’s another airball for EA’s once proud NBA Live franchise. In a blog post on the game’s official site, EA Executive Vice President Andrew Wilson said NBA Live 13 will not launch.
“Having continued to look at the game over the past few days, it’s clear that we won’t be ready in October,” Wilson said. “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. ”
EA’s making the announcement now, but its own communications indicate the publisher has been thinking about this for a while. In an investor call discussing the upcoming quarter, NBA Live 13 was nowhere to be found. You wouldn’t see Madden NFL or FIFA Soccer missing from such a conversation.
In August, 10 minutes of unflattering footage leaked. EA said this was not a final build and didn’t represent the product that would ship in October. The company was still sticking to the October 2 release date at that point. It announced a delay before outright axing the title weeks before release.
This is almost exactly what happened with NBA Elite 11. The rebranded basketball game was supposed to help EA generate marketing buzz, and distance the new game from the failing Live brand. A demo revealed game breaking bugs, including a problem that caused Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum to freeze at halfcourt with his arms outstretched. It became known as the “Jesus glitch,” and instantly went viral:
For those scoring at home, NBA Live 10 was the last basketball sim EA released. It attempted to recover from the debacle by making NBA Jam, originally slated as free DLC for those purchasing Elite, a full retail game. Attempting to charge $50 for something it had announced would be free didn’t work very well. The latest NBA Jam was a digital download, at the $15 price which makes more sense.
The rationale for cancelling Elite 11 was the damage a seriously flawed game would do to the brand long term. A three-year hiatus probably isn’t going to help either. Readers, do you think NBA Live has a prayer of getting back on the court?