EA Sports is a division of Electronic Arts or EA for short. EA Sports have been making sport games since they were founded in 1991. For many years they were the kings of basketball gaming with their NBA Live series. However things change and although their latest offering, NBA Live 19 is a big improvement as seen by Will in our review HERE, my opinion is they should give away making basketball games and below I’ll detail why I have come to this conclusion.
NBA Live History
The NBA Live series was developed by EA Canada from 1994 to 2010 and the first game NBA Live 95 was released in October 1994. EA Tiburon took over in 2013 and remains the developer today. There was an NBA Live every year from NBA Live 95 all the way through to NBA Live 2010.
After a decline in popularity and quality EA made an effort to refresh the series when they announced NBA Elite 11. Developer issues meant delay after delay and eventually the EA Sports NBA series was scrapped until its return in November 2013 with the release of NBA Live 2014.
Since its return EA has strived to gain its market share back from the NBA 2K series with somewhat moderate success.
Should NBA Live continue next year with NBA Live 20? I’ll tell you why I think it shouldn’t below.
NBA 2K series – The Competition
The NBA 2K series was born in 1999 with the release of NBA 2K on the Sega Dreamcast. The 2K series was established by Sega under the Sega Sports brand. Every 2K game has been developed by Visual Concepts which was owned by Sega but is under the 2K Sports banner now.
The birth of the 2K series was actually due to EA abandoning their support of Sega consoles when they stopped making the NBA Live games for the Sega Saturn and then refusing to make any EA Sports games for Sega’s Dreamcast console.
This abondonment by EA which led to Sega having to create their own basketball series funnily enough is a huge reason why I think EA should give up on making NBA videogames.
Since its inception on the Sega Dreamcast, the NBA 2K series has grown from strength to strength. I personally played the original NBA 2K for many hours and absolutely loved it. At its release there was just no basketball video game that compared. This was due to a combination of the power of the Dreamcast console which was ahead of it’s time, the excellent use of the Dreamcast controller and the excellent gameplay implemented by the Visual Concepts team which paved the way for the strong gameplay the 2K games have today.
NBA Live vs NBA 2K
Since the release of the first NBA 2K game, EA have arguably been left behind in 2Ks dust in the basketball video game category. I may be wrong but I can’t think of a version of NBA Live that was better or as good as any version of NBA 2K. The first NBA 2K on the Dreamcast was such a solid platform for Visual Concepts to build on EA just couldn’t keep up.
I am positive that the quality of the NBA 2K series plus the developer issues that plagued EAs attempt at a refresh of the NBA Live series, NBA Elite 11 which was eventually cancelled, has seen the huge decline of the basketball video game from EA.
Now I know there are die hard NBA Live fans out there and I can understand that as I was a big fan of NBA Live games from when I first picked up NBA Live 95 way back in 1994. But once I got the first NBA 2K on the Sega Dreamcast I was hooked into Visual Concepts take on video game basketball.
There have been popular versions of NBA Live, namely NBA Live 2010 and there has been a poor version of NBA 2K, NBA 2K13 comes to mind, but in general NBA 2K games have always been leaps ahead of NBA Live.
In business and in the video game industry, competition is what drives companies to make better products for us consumers. In the NBA video game market there is just no competition between NBA Live and NBA 2K games.
One thing I have also noticed is that NBA Live 19 is strangely absent from stores, at least here in Australia anyway and can only be purchased digitally.
I admit I do enjoy NBA Live 19, particularly “The One” mode but the general game just doesn’t feel like as accurate a basketball simulation as NBA 2K19. It will be interesting to see what our writer Will thinks of NBA 2K19 in his upcoming review. While my conclusion that EA should stop making basketball games may sound harsh, I just think their efforts could be concentrated on their other series like FIFA, Madden, Battlefield etc.
If EA were to keep making basketball games, which I’m sure they will, perhaps instead of trying to compete with NBA 2K, they could revive the NBA Jam series as the latest attempt at that in NBA Playgrounds was abysmal, although the new one has been taken under 2K Sports wing so EA need to get in quick!
Craig Cirillo is an avid gamer and has been gaming for many years, from back in the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 days until now with his Xbox One S and PS4 Pro. Craig had ownership stakes in 2 previous websites, Gaming Obsession Australia and All Age Gaming. He enjoys all types of games with his particular favorites being the Gears of War series and the Street Fighter series.