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NBA Live pushed back to fall 2017, new UFC game on the way

It’s shaping up to be a big year for EA Sports

nba live 16
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith in NBA Live 16.
EA Tiburon/Electronic Arts
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The next NBA Live game will be released in 2017, but not until this fall, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson announced today.

Wilson made an almost offhand mention of the game while discussing the upcoming EA Sports lineup during the investor call for the third quarter of EA’s 2017 fiscal year. Until today, EA’s earnings reports had included an NBA Live console game slated for the fourth fiscal quarter, which runs from January to March.

Earlier this month, a listing for a game called The Drive to NBA Live was spotted on the Korean ratings board. It now appears that EA has effectively canceled that title and pushed back the next NBA Live to the fall, where the publisher would be more likely to release a game under the title of NBA Live 18. The series faces tough competition in 2K Sports’ NBA 2K franchise, which is perennially one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed sports games in the world.

“We have been on a journey with NBA Live,” said Wilson, making an oblique reference to the series’ troubled development history, “and want to deliver something that’s truly innovative and disruptive in the marketplace.” Wilson went on to say that when EA higher-ups got their hands on the game that was scheduled to launch in early 2017, they felt that “in all honesty [...] it’s really, really good — really fun.”

According to Wilson, EA has decided to “double down on [the game], add to it, and launch it as a full beat later this year.” The company feels that it will have a better chance of succeeding with an NBA Live game that debuts in the traditional fall window, shortly before the NBA season begins.

Wilson detailed EA Sports’ plans for its 2018 fiscal year, which runs from April 2017 through March 2018. Madden NFL developer EA Tiburon is converting the series to EA’s Frostbite engine for this year’s game, which will be called Madden NFL 18. The changeover, which EA Vancouver made in the FIFA series last year with FIFA 17, will deliver “major visual enhancements and new gameplay experiences,” said Wilson. He did not specify whether FIFA 18 is the same FIFA game that is in development on the Nintendo Switch.

Following FIFA and 2015’s Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, Madden will be the third EA Sports title to adopt Frostbite, which is developed by EA DICE. (Sorry, golf fans: Wilson didn’t mention a new PGA Tour game for 2017.) As for FIFA 18, it will offer a second season of “The Journey,” the popular single-player story mode that debuted in FIFA 17. EA said today that more than 10 million players have tried it to date.

In addition to NHL 18, an expected annual title — the hockey series launches in early September — EA will release a new entry in its UFC franchise sometime during the 2018 fiscal year. The previous game, EA Sports UFC 2, launched in March 2016, nearly two full years after 2014’s EA Sports UFC.

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