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EA cancels NBA Live 13, cites commitment to quality

NBA Live 13

“After a lot of consideration, we have made the decision to not launch NBA LIVE 13,” begins the latest news post on the official NBA Live website.

For those of you keeping score at home, this is the second time in the last three years that NBA Live publisher EA has canceled a new addition to the series. NBA Elite 11 — EA opted to momentarily ditch the “NBA Live” moniker for this particular ill-fated sequel — was initially scheduled for release in November of 2010 but was canceled only a week prior to its scheduled shipping date due to concerns over the game’s quality.

So why is it that EA, a company that regularly battles Activision for the title of world’s largest video game publisher, and who has been successfully pushing annual updates in its Madden NFL series for more than two decades, unable to regularly generate new professional basketball games? According to EA Sports executive vice president Andrew Wilson, the company is simply not able to put a version of NBA Live 13 together that they would be satisfied with qualitatively.

“We also made a commitment to deliver a high quality experience — this is what our fans expect and what we demand of ourselves at EA Sports. But making great games is not easy, and we’re just not there yet on NBA LIVE 13,” Wilson said. “Having continued to look at the game over the past few days, it’s clear that we won’t be ready in October. And rather than launch midway through the season, we’re going to sit out the full year and stay focused on making next year’s game great. This decision puts us on the right track for success well into the future in a rapidly changing industry.”

That’s a surprising level of candor, and who can argue with that reasoning? If EA were to release a subpar NBA Live 13, not only would fans be disappointed, but the publisher would also lose tons of supporters to hoops rival 2K Sports, publishers of the excellent NBA 2K series of basketball titles.

Where does EA go from here? According to Wilson the company plans to take the next year to completely reexamine the core fundamentals of its NBA Live series in preparation for the inevitable NBA Live 14. Wilson hopes that by spending this extra time polishing the franchise’s core concepts and introducing new features that are truly ready for the public, that the company can put the NBA Live series back on track permanently. We wish Wilson and his team of developers all the best, but it’s going to take a lot of work to top the 2K Sports team. For instance, were you aware that NBA 2K13 includes the ’92 Dream Team? Or that it’s the first game in years to include Charles Barkley? EA’s going to have to come up with something spectacular to top that kind of nostalgic appeal.