It was evident that NBA Live 16 was DOA as soon as it released. Activity numbers in the game were dreadful, and ever since even at peak hours there aren’t more than 120 or so people connected and playing. While it’s difficult to get any actual sales numbers these days we now have a true indication of just how poorly the game has done.
The numbers extrapolated from NPD results for September on Neogaf show NBA Live 16 as having sold just over 8,000 copies in North America. That’s compared to well over a million for NBA 2K16 in the same region. As 2K has been consistently growing, Live’s share continues to shrink, going from about 2-3% of the basketball market in the last few years to now under 1%.
It was somewhat surprising that EA Sports continued the Live franchise following Live 15. Sales trended downward, as everyone knew they would, after the disaster that was Live 14. The future outlook only worsened and while the quality of the series may be increasing, it has not been doing so at the same rate of the competition which has only widened the gap since the series returned. Not only is Live an afterthought for basketball fans, but crammed into a window where there are so many other sports games and others competing for dollars that it’s not even a blip on the radar for consumers. All the bad publicity prior to release can’t even be blamed here as very few actually were considering purchasing it anyway.
EA has continued Live because they imagined it would gain traction in sales even if slowly as an alternative option, that they could capitalize on the weaknesses in the competition’s product, that the digital revenue of Ultimate Team would eventually pull them out of the hole, and that the market was large enough to support two titles. While that last point may be true in some alternate reality, the company has failed in all other respects, and there’s almost no scenario where any of that could change over the next several years. That brings into question yet again how EA could attempt and justify more yearly losses ahead to investors.
Should EA Sports desire the presence of basketball in their portfolio they have a number of other options including bringing back NBA Street or taking Live and turning it into a free-to-play product centered around the Ultimate Team concept.