The Fate of NBA Live as a Franchise Will Be Determined Soon

Posted September 17th, 2012 at 9:30 am

The idea of a delay to NBA Live 13 would have been just about the worst-case scenario for EA Sports when planning for the reboot was being done. The company knew they would not be able to sell the game in its first year back with such an entrenched competitor on the market so the goal instead was to create some awareness and reestablish at least a modicum of credibility. The building process for the series – which one could point to the FIFA and NHL as those that made comebacks despite the odds – would then be underway. 

Unfortunately EA was not even able to clear that low bar. Early reports were largely negative and the company went silent about the game choosing not to promote it or even acknowledge it despite information being discovered…some of which they still won’t even admit to or explain. Footage of the game leaked and only cemented those earlier impressions and being slated as a discount digital download did not generate any positive vibes. Instead the spiral downwards continued even beyond what anyone could have anticipated at the outset.

Live has not only become irrelevant but is now a punchline. The decisions that EA Sports makes within the next few weeks and months will be telling as they’ll provide clear indications as to whether the series will be dumped on the market and the series canned for good or if they still have a long-term plan in mind.

A delay and eventual release would potentially be worse than a total cancellation of this year’s title if EA still intends to continue to the series. They’ve already let down a number of fans – the few who remained – but the majority out there have no idea really of its troubles or even existence making a cancellation and return next year less harmful. Continuing to make promises that aren’t met or failing to live up to even the lowest of expectations with a release of Live 13 would essentially bury the series for good even if the company wanted to continue it. There just is no coming back from that.

The digital download idea is one that screams desperation and a poor quality effort. It’s not something that would be done in an attempt to move towards the future but instead because EA feels they have no other choice. They’d be attempting to reach out and sell the game to those who already bought NBA 2K13 or those that aren’t big enough fans to spend $60 on basketball. Either or both segments of consumers are not going to be able to support a title like Live with the costly resources that have been put into it.

EA’s Tiburon studio is in a significant state of trouble with NBA Live, NCAA Football, and Tiger Woods all struggling to survive with very little opportunity for growth even as they sink further. Madden is the only stable franchise there and even that is dependent on the NFL’s exclusive license which is currently set to expire after Madden 14. Live is just the most immediate problem to handle. Whether EA decides to dump Live 13 on the market and wash their hands of it or if they really dig in to try and rebuild for the long haul will become evident within the next month.