Now granted, all signs were pointing towards Live never seeing the light of day -- but still can you say you are surprised?
I personally gave EA a lot of the benefit of the doubt the past several months, mainly because it seemed inconceivable a company as successful and large as Electronic Arts could mangle a release not just once, but twice.
"You keep using that word, I don't think it means what you think it means."
But here we are. And now we have to ask the tough questions: is NBA Live 14 really going to happen? If so, can it truly be any good? Can the franchise even stick around to find out?
What we've seen thus far basically gives that theory zero credibility. It's possible yes, but so is 2K reversing it's sports game attrition and actually releasing more games next year vs. this year including an NHL and MLB title.
In short, I don't see it as being likely. EA doesn't seem to get basketball given the early demo previews of Live with robotic player animations and hardly any player movement on the court. A passable title won't work in the face of greatness, NBA 2K will make anything less than a great effort seem amateurish in comparison.
I'm pretty sure EA will try to pump even more money into an NBA Product, and I'm sure they'll try to release it again, but at this point can anyone catch up with NBA 2K? I'm really not so sure.
We know direct sport competition is not a prerequisite for producing great games -- contrary to the popular groupthink in the sports gaming community. If so, NHL would never have been able to be great, much less trying to explain MLB 2K's failure in becoming a great game (and it ultimately folding) because it simply can't match MLB: The Show.
One could argue compellingly that competition will always result in a winner and a loser in sports gaming, and you'd be largely right -- it's tough to argue against the shrinking list of sports game titles being released each season after all. Competition may have propelled a game to become great, but it's not necessary to keep a game there.
So relax NBA 2K fans, your baby is going to be just fine.
What EA has done this year is basically wave the white flag to 2K Sports, but promise to return someday. This isn't like General MacArthur's promise when he left the Philippines in World War II though, because returning to win might not be possible now for EA.
NBA 2K has entrenched itself in several ways. It outshines any possible EA effort in sales, quality, marketing, and it's virality at least for a couple of release cycles minimum. Simply put, NBA 2K is the firm go-to product and brand in the gamers mind as the NBA game for NBA fans.
NBA Live's appearance next year, if it does make an appearance, will take some incredibly amazing marketing and a game which is really good in quality to even begin to dent that -- adequate or average won't cut it. Borderline great may begin to turn the tide.
The sales won't come initially regardless, and if quality isn't there they never will. That's the problem EA has, and it's the problem they're going to have.
NBA 2K is the Miami Heat, NBA Live is more akin to the Bobcats.
One is going to be a championship contender for some time, the other probably won't be leaving the basement for years to come.
Another sports game marked off the release calendar and the march to universal exclusivity continues onwards.
C'est la vie sports gamers, it's our lot in life.
Let's just hope the games that keep winning look more like NHL and NBA 2K than the Madden's of earlier this generation and all will be forgiven.