Has NBA Live Come To An End?

When EA Sports announced that NBA Live 20 wasn’t going to release this season, the company mentioned its focus on the upcoming console generation as the main reason.

“Alongside the NBA and NBPA, we have our sights set on creating something fresh for the next generation of players and platforms,” EA said.

The company closed the statement by saying that it “[promised] to check back regularly with updates.”

But since that statement back in October, there have been no updates on the future of the series, and the game’s Twitter account has gone radio silent. Because of that lack of communication, rumors have started to circulate that NBA Live has been shelved completely by EA Sports. And we’re not just talking about NBA Live 21, which was expected to release this fall. We’re talking about the franchise as a whole.

After doing some digging we noticed that some of the online profiles of main contributors to the franchise are no longer based out of the Tiburon office where NBA Live is developed. So it appears that some who had been working on the game have been reassigned to other teams or even another studio within the EA Sports such as NHL, FIFA, or UFC. So, in a way, the series may not be officially canceled but rather it’s just no longer actively being developed or it a priority for the studio at this time.

EA Sports is still planning to release four sports titles for the 2021 fiscal year, but NBA Live won’t be one of them. Instead, in addition to the usual Madden, FIFA and NHL launches, the company will be releasing EA Sports UFC 4 which is deep in development.

The next UFC game hasn’t been officially unveiled, but that is expected to come in the coming weeks or months. Many who have worked on NBA Live in the past are rumored to be working on the new UFC game as development picks up steam.

How did NBA Live get here?

It’s no secret that the last decade of NBA Live has been a tumultuous one. From the disaster that was NBA Elite 11 to other canceled versions back in 2012 and 2016, there have been plenty of times where many thought the series was over only to see it come back.

While some have been poorly received like NBA Live 14 others have gotten praise for taking chances to add more for players such as NBA Live 19 with its The One career mode.

With Live 19, it really felt as though the series was on its way back after being an afterthought to many for so long. Just look at SGO’s review of the game and compare it to past installments if you want proof of that.

From the NBA Live 19 Review:

 

Unfortunately, however, the numerous delays of the past decade and the continuous growth of the competition has led to NBA Live continuing to lag behind in sales and overall popularity.

The latest 2K game, NBA 2K20, had the best-selling launch for a sports game in the United States ever. On top of that, the series has moved closer to becoming the best-selling gaming franchise, recently surpassing Guitar Hero, in the United States.

Add in 2K Sports’ agreement with the NBA for the upstart NBA 2K League, and it’s an even tougher uphill climb for NBA Live than at any point in its 26-year history. Right now, it might just be best to focus the franchise in the mobile realm where it’s found plenty of success with NBA Live Mobile.