2K Sports’ NBA 2K games went on such a run that EA opted to rebrand its game as NBA Elite. That game’s demo revealed glitches that might have ended basketball at EA Sports, so NBA Elite 11 never released.
We realized just how badly basketball at EA had decayed when the publisher didn’t release a game in 2011 either. Instead of becoming a marketing coup, the name NBA Elite now conjured up images of failure. NBA Live at least had the distinction of being good once, so EA unretired the brand. Impressions from E3 2012 give a picture of a player that looks like he’s been off the court for two years.
What is surprising reviewers is the unfinished look of a product that is supposed to ship in four months. At E3, we can usually play at least a level or two of games that aren’t going to release until 2013. NBA Live 13 wasn’t playable and its absence from EA’s promotional efforts was apparent. G4’s Jonathan Deesing said the game looks “five years out of date.”
Also, word leaked out that the two-year absence from sports games won’t be much of an advantage. It turns out the complete NBA Live development team wasn’t in place until November 2011. They won’t even have a full calendar year to try and return this fallen franchise to some form of respectability.
This is unfortunate, because competition is better for everyone in the long run. NBA 2K12 plays a fine game of roundball, but 2K’s server makes playing online a spotty prospect. Online play was the one thing NBA Live always did better than NBA 2K. Should a two-year hiatus from basketball still not be enough to save NBA Live, it may be impossible to salvage this once-proud franchise.