Early Promotional Effort for NBA Live 13 May Be Providing Hints at Direction

Posted February 25th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

The announcement of the name going back to NBA Live, as well as the tagline of “The Future of Basketball”, has stirred up a surprisingly high level of interest in EA Sports’ return to a sim NBA offering. However there may be more to glean from the recent events that provide some clues into the company’s plans for the franchise. 

“The Future of Basketball” represents not just EA’s reboot and attempt at a fresh start but also plays off the competitor (NBA 2K) which has chosen to focus on the league’s past by crafting their product around legends and historic teams.

It’s no coincidence then to see that EA has brought on a particular type of player in the early days of promoting their upcoming title. They’ve stuck marketing deals with Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Ricky Rubio, and likely many more in their mold.

What do they have in common? They’re young, high-profile, rising stars in the league. That those three play point guard may or may not be relevant but it’s worth noting in case it does. Dwight Howard is involved too but that comes as little surprise given his strong marketing ties to EA. Not only was he on the cover of NBA Live 10 (the last one) but he’s even a character they put in a pre-order incentive for Tiger Woods 13.

The four of them tweeted out in a planned promotion to build buzz for Live 13 late in the week. Tiburon is located right near Orlando and with All-Star Weekend in town it made for the perfect opportunity. It was maybe too transparent that they were tweeting at the behest of EA though. In fact the tweets read like they were written by EA – and they probably were. They used similar language, included the EA Sports NBA twitter account, and used the same hashtags. It wasn’t something that organically happened instead it was clearly a planned marking event that those players were involved with.

Given that cover athlete voting has become all the rage for EA as of late it’s likely they’ll take the same approach with NBA Live 13. Doing so will create awareness and keep the game in the news for an extended period of time making it much more valuable than just a single cover announcement that fades out of relevance after a day or two.

If there is process to choose a cover athlete the tagline will probably play a part. Expect the eligible players to be the likes of John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Jeremy Lin, Blake Griffin – those who represent the “future” of the league.

Expect EA to try and keep Live in the news over the coming months. It’s the one big advantage they have over 2K Sports who can’t start to build buzz for 2K13 until 2K12 has run it’s course at retail. The first concrete news on NBA Live 13 is expected to come Monday.