Electronic Arts has recently confirmed to Gamasutra that EA Sports’ basketball franchise is expected to return this year with the release of NBA Live 13. The new game is described as “an all-new experience that captures the future of basketball,” and will be released sometime this fall. This is the first simulation NBA title release since the indefinite delay of NBA Elite one week before its release, and its eventual cancellation a month later, in 2010.
EA also moved the series for EA Canada to EA Tiburon. They then announced in April 2011 that the Orlando-based studio, which is also the home to EA’s NCAA Football, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and Madden franchises, would not be shipping a simulation basketball title until 2012.
No details were given as to why the NBA Elite branding has been abandoned with the newest installment in the franchise.
Analysis: I’m willing to bet that the reason EA has decided to drop the NBA Elite brand in favor of the Live brand is because EA has realized it would be smart to capitalize on the brand loyalty many gamers feel for the series. By doing so, they can use the positive feelings felt towards the Live brand name rather than the disappointing and negative reaction to the cancellation of NBA Elite, especially after the demo’s poor reception because of bugs. As someone who hasn’t owned or even played a game in the franchise since NBA Live 07, EA must be aware it’s facing an uphill battle against 2K Sports, considering NBA 2K11 and NBA 2K12 have become insanely popular in the absence of any competition.
Even over the past few years with Live and 2K competing for sales, 2K was seen taking a commanding share of the market; many found the game to be far superior to the Live franchise, myself included. It will be interesting to see how Live 13 shapes up, given that it would’ve been in development for some time now.
Another interesting development is that a number of NBA players, such as Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, and Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio, have recently visited EA Tiburon and have been given some hands-on time with an early build of the game whilst in Orlando for the All-Star festivities. What’s noteworthy about this, however, is that all three players are young point guards, potentially hinting at an area of focus for the developers in the newest title.