According to executive producer Sean O'Brien, who worked on the last game in the series that publisher Electronic Arts actually shipped — 2009's NBA Live 10 — the previous generational shift caused a "hiccup" in the NBA Live franchise because EA decided to rewrite the game's technology, and the series was never able to recover in the current generation compared to its competitor, 2K Sports' NBA 2K franchise.
"2K did a different approach and I think were able to gain significant momentum and overall product parity on us at that time," said O'Brien to GamesIndustry International. "And they continued with a very strong direction, and EA has been trying to play catch-up ever since that moment."
So EA has decided to skip current-generation platforms and start fresh on the new consoles with its new engine, EA Sports Ignite, hoping that the clean slate will give it a fighting chance against NBA 2K. EA debuted Ignite during Microsoft's Xbox One reveal event last month with a trailer of pre-rendered footage (screencap above), saying the PS4- and Xbox One-exclusive engine will power all of its next-generation sports titles. Ignite-powered entries in the NBA Live, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer and UFC franchises will all be released within the next year.
NBA Live 14 is in development at EA Tiburon. Both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are set to launch later this year.