EA gambled in attempt to get NBA Live 16 positive publicity and they lost

Posted September 19th, 2015 at 10:15 am


The NBA Live franchise has somehow made it through arguably the worst five year stretch of any sports game of our time. A cancellation, a year off, another cancellation, a terrible release they later apologized for, and a decent effort that saw sales fall because of the previous year.

EA Sports can’t seem to catch a break – but often it’s of their own doing. That’s the case again after awful player faces for some of the professionals in the game went viral yesterday.

Many of the faces in question will be fixed with an update for the game prior to its release date later this month but the damage has already been done. NBA Live trended on Twitter for much of the day, and now the more casual consumer audience knows one thing about the game and the impression is that it’s a joke of a product.

National sports writers are ripping on Live and the posts made by Bleacher Report and SB Nation have spread to just about everywhere. What hurts maybe even more are the NBA players making fun of the game. If not for the likes of Rudy Gobert and J.J. Redick all this may not have gained as much traction.

How did this happen? EA Sports gave out copies of the game last weekend at a “launch party” in New York to lots of people who couldn’t have cared less about Live. That was seen immediately when a bunch of copies ended up on Ebay and Craigslist.

EA gave out what they’re calling an unfinished game, to random people and media, weeks before its release. The outcome then should not be a surprise. It was a move of desperation as the company hoped it would generate positive publicity and instead it backfired.

Personally, I wouldn’t have posted the type of content that got the storm started, nor would many others who hold a level of respect for the process and development teams. The people who cover sports games regularly know about things like day one patches – one of which had already been discussed by EA for Live. These faces were not a big deal in the first place. However standards are different in the general media, and when actual NBA players start talking about it then it becomes unavoidable.


This is not another NBA Elite 11 “Jesus Bynum”. NBA Live 16 isn’t going to get cancelled. However its potential to sell has taken a big hit. The game already faced a near impossible situation with competition from all angles making it the easiest sports game to pass over. EA needed some positive buzz to get recognized. That was the purpose of the demo but any good that might have been done there has now been lost and then some in the mainstream.