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NBA Live 13 canceled, franchise to return next year

NBA Live 13 is dead

NBA Live 13 Stoudemire Gasol
NBA Live 13 Stoudemire Gasol
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.

NBA Live 13 has been canceled, although publisher Electronic Arts is vowing that the franchise will return next year.

Andrew Wilson, head of the EA Sports label, said in a statement that while EA believed the project was "on the right path," the company eventually realized, "We're just not there yet on NBA Live 13. ... It's clear that we won't be ready [to launch the game] in October."

Rather than delay NBA Live 13 and release it halfway through the NBA season, EA decided to "sit out the full year and stay focused on making next year's game great." As recently as two weeks ago, the company was maintaining that while NBA Live 13 would miss its October release date, it would be released "at a later date."

Wilson cited EA's high expectations as the main reason for canceling the publisher's second consecutive simulation basketball title. He also listed all the work that the company had put into NBA Live 13: moving the series from EA Canada to EA Tiburon; bringing in technology from other EA Sports titles; engaging the community at a "deeper level"; and supporting the game with a new development team. "We knew it was going to be a long journey," said Wilson, "but making great games is not easy."

He added, "I'm disappointed that we have not yet met our high expectations with NBA Live, but I remain motivated about where we're going."

According to Wilson, EA Tiburon remains "committed to delivering new innovation in online" and improving the game's visual presentation, but prioritizes "great gameplay" above all else.

"This wasn't an easy decision, but it's the right one for our fans," said Wilson.

It's the same tough decision Electronic Arts made just under two years ago, when the company's chief executive, John Riccitiello, chose to cancel NBA Elite 11 rather than delay it further and eventually release what EA knew to be a sub-standard game. The publisher had announced that game in May 2010 as a reboot of its long-running NBA Live franchise, with a release planned for the fall of that year. But after a poorly received demo that included some laughable glitches, EA indefinitely delayed the game and then canceled it outright in November.

NBA Live 13 was supposed to be the game that the NBA Elite 11 developers couldn't quite pull off. EA demoed the title at E3 2012 this past June to a lukewarm reception, and then went completely dark. No further information on NBA Live 13 was released until EA put out the first official trailer earlier this month, along with the announcement of its delay past October.

The radio silence didn't inspire confidence in any remaining fans the franchise might have had, and now — twice in a row — anybody who was hoping to play an Electronic Arts-produced basketball sim won't be able to do so.

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