2012 Year in Review: NBA Live on life support

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The matchup between the NBA 2K series and EA’s NBA Live is starting to look like Michael Jordan in his prime going one-on-one with a rec center b-baller. NBA 2K13 again played to critical acclaim, and even ironed out its longstanding issues with online play. EA again cancelled NBA Live, and hasn’t released a basketball sim since 2009’s NBA Live 10.

EA’s announcement was an unwelcome case of deja vu for basketball lovers. In 2010, NBA Elite 11 (a rebranding of Live) got the axe just weeks before release. A demo revealed a product of extremely bad quality. Things had fallen so far, EA decided to sit out the 2011 calendar year as well. The extra time would help the franchise regain championship form, they told us.

It wasn’t playable at E3 2012, a huge sign that something was wrong. In August, 10 minutes of gameplay footage leaked and it wasn’t kind. The basketball sim looked horribly dated. EA went into denial mode, saying the leaked footage didn’t represent the final product. Again, the publisher swore that product would launch in October, in time for the beginning of the NBA season. In September, EA officially ended the speculation.

It’s hard to imagine NBA Live getting back into the game. NBA 2K has built up a reputation for excellence.  NBA Live has done the exact opposite. While its competition has soared, the once bestselling basketball sim hasn’t been able to release a game since 2009. The brand is beyond tarnished. That’s a shame, as competition makes everyone better in the long run.




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