You heard a lot of conjecture coming from EA's camp. A lot of hype really.
We're back. Things are looking good. We're building for the future.
Then E3 hit. Wave after wave of bad reviews saying the game simply wasn't ready to be shown off, and 'What was EA thinking?' type of articles -- including from our own Steve Noah.
Now, silence. Deafening, complete...silence.
I've tried to ask around, I've been told the game is still on track and still moving forward. But EA, for all intents and purposes, is ignoring the fact they're releasing an NBA game later this year for now. Perhaps they're waiting to get through Madden before trying to fire the hype machine up, maybe they're waiting to improve the game to a point where it's actually, say, functional.
Whatever the reason -- we've got silence, and lots of it.
I don't think NBA Live is doomed to not release, but the chances of a delay are very real if the game isn't ready by launch time. It'd probably be for the best, as NBA 2K will outshine it in quality -- I don't think anyone questions that, I certainly haven't.
But this is EA's one and only chance and they have to get it right. The game has to play balanced, has to play smooth online, and has to at least -- you know -- play the game of basketball competently.
NBA Live doesn't need to be an OS rated 8.0 to survive. It doesn't even need to be a 7.0, or what we call a good/solid game. But it does need to be competent, above average even.
The simple fact is, NBA Live has to give customers a reason to buy into the franchise -- to buy into some hope that it could be resurrected and be competitive with 2K's masterpiece. I have long held that the game will do at least that (and sell pretty ok in the process), and maybe I'll end up wrong -- but I do know that anything less will be a disaster for EA.
EA has a one shot opportunity to prove to an extremely skeptical consumer base (especially post-E3) that they can deliver a competent and fun game of basketball. If they fail, the franchise probably will not survive to see another year.
It would be the last bit of the wall of competition going down, and we will usher in what will probably be a permanent new reality in sports gaming: one without direct competition.
Competition is a rarity in sports gaming in 2012 -- and when (not if) one of the NBA franchises folds, it's likely that every major American sport will continue without serious direct competition across multiple platforms forever.
So foolishly, hopelessly (it seems), I'm rooting for EA to pull out a rabbit and to give us hope that more than one game mimicking the same sport can exist in today's marketplace.
But the silence from EA? That silence tells me I might be wrong.