Electronic Arts is holding playtest sessions for a "new NBA concept" at its EA Canada studio this week, according to a survey discovered by NLSC, and the sessions could mean the studio is working on a basketball title.
The survey says EA Canada will run playtests for the NBA concept on April 11-12. It includes questions about people's familiarity with sports and existing simulation sports franchises such as Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer and NBA 2K.
EA's two main North American sports studios — Burnaby, British Columbia-based EA Canada and Orlando-based EA Tiburon — have both had a hand in the tumultuous recent history of the company's long-running NBA Live franchise. EA Canada had developed all the games in the series through 2009's NBA Live 10, but EA rebranded the series in May 2010 as NBA Elite, with plans to launch NBA Elite 11 that fall.
In November 2010, the company canceled NBA Elite 11 after indefinitely delaying it, and moved development of the franchise to EA Tiburon. That studio was working on NBA Live 13, which was supposed to launch in the fall of 2012, but EA also canceled it when it became clear that the game wasn't going to be ready for release. It's unclear if this week's playtest sessions at EA Canada will feature EA Tiburon's upcoming NBA Live title, or if there's a different NBA game in development at EA Canada that will be exhibited to the playtesters.
In the meantime, EA Canada developed a reboot of NBA Jam that was initially a Wii exclusive; it launched in October 2010. The company eventually released NBA Jam on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November 2010, and on iOS in February 2011. EA Canada also made an enhanced and updated version, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, which was released in October 2011 on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. In addition to those titles and its work on the NBA Live series, EA Canada developed the NBA Street games.
We reached out to EA for more details. A spokesperson had no comment on the survey or NBA concept, and told Polygon that while EA "[doesn't] have any announcements yet on NBA Live," development on the franchise is proceeding at EA Tiburon.