You’ve probably heard by now that NBA Live 13 has been cancelled, making it the third year in a row without an NBA basketball sim from EA Sports. This means it’s the third year in a row that 2K Sports has no competition in the basketball sim subgenre; not that NBA Live was worth playing since 2006 anyway.
This also means that for the third straight year, EA is willing to keep working on a sports game that’s costing them a huge amount of money, not only in development costs but also costly licensing—and they have nothing to show for it.
Think about this for a moment.
If EA doesn’t cancel NBA Live altogether before the 2014 iteration is expected to arrive, this would imply that the publisher still believes that the series will make them money, not necessarily when the next NBA Live comes out, but in the future.
This also implies that all the features they’re putting in NBA Live won’t be used for only a year, but in several years. Naturally, a business would maximize its investments. So even if an installment of NBA Live can sell more copies than The Sims in a year, EA would still keep using the same basic game in future installments until the console generation has run its course.
Besides, if EA kept making new sports games from the ground up, then it’ll repeatedly face the same situation today—three years and still no game.
The cancellation of NBA Live 13 shows that sports games rely on recycled technology and game companies just build on them by introducing tweaks and roster updates. There’s nothing wrong with that!
The root of the sports sim problem
What utterly stinks here is that game companies—EA Sports in particular—are selling these sports sims, which are essentially the same game they released several times before with only a few minimal improvements and roster updates, at a price-gouging $60.
And the sad part is that we keep buying them.
But hey, many people already know this, right? We hear snarky gamers comment all the time that sports sims are just glorified $60 roster updates. Well, this cancellation isn’t exactly a smoking gun, but it further reinforces the belief, which would (hopefully) be realized by the general sports-sim-buying, casual-gaming public.
And when this happens, hopefully, people would stop spending $60 for these games, which in turn would compel publishers to stop selling sports sims at outrageous prices or worse—maybe do away with them completely.
It could happen! Remember Guitar Hero?