Read this to find out why I believe EA should cancel the NBA Live series and bring back NBA Street.
Why NBA Live is a failure.
Telltale Games have made millions making games based on popular properties that start as digital download only and game developer Undead Labs made State of Decay that originally released only on Xbox Live Arcade for digital download and became a huge success. You are probably asking yourself what do Telltale Games and Undead Labs have to do with NBA Street? While Telltale Games and Undead Labs have nothing to do with NBA Street, both companies provide a model for EA to bring in NBA Street back. After NBA Elite, NBA Live renamed, was cancelled weeks before release, EA went from 2009 to 2012 without releasing a NBA Live game. It would return in 2013 with NBA Live 14 on the PS4 and Xbox One only. NBA Live 14 was a game so hated by critics that it got a Metacritic score of 36/100 on Xbox One and 43/100 on PS4. This Metacritic score came from combining 14 different critics that reviewed the game for Xbox One and 25 critics for PS4. It was not just the critics that did not care for NBA Live 14, because few people bought the game. Using sales information gathered from vgchartz.com and combining NBA Live sales on PS4 and Xbox One it sold less than 250,000 copies. While I do not know how much the game cost to make, in Kotaku’s “How Much Does It Cost To Make A Big Video Game?” article Sony’s president Shuhei Yoshida mentioned that PS4 games would cost more than the 20 to 50 million PS3 games cost. If I multiply 250,000 by 60, the price of NBA Live, it would equal 15 million. Considering that EA does not get all of the 60 dollars per game and NBA Live sold around 25,000 less than 250,000, EA took a very big loss on the game. It is even worse when compared to their completion NBA 2K14, which sold over 5. 6 million copies when combining all platforms. EA could argue that NBA Live 14 was only on Xbox One and PS4 and that could explain the big sales difference, but NBA 2K14 sold 1.69 million when only counting copies sold on the Xbox One and PS4. Even with the critical and commercial failure associated with NBA Live 14, EA will release NBA Live 15 on October 28, 2014, and I see no way that game succeeds.
Why bringing NBA Street back could work.
If EA truly believes they need to release a NBA game and accept that NBA Live is a lone zombie that is not worth wasting a bullet on, they should make a game that is the polar opposite of the NBA 2K franchise and could be made for a lot less then NBA Live. That game should be NBA Street and it should be made as a download only game that could be bought on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network for at most 30 dollars. NBA 2K is a basketball simulation that tries to make the game as realistic as possible from gameplay to presentation, but NBA Street is all about over the top dunks and cartoon looking basketball. NBA Street takes pride in being unrealistic fun using real NBA players, and would be different enough from NBA 2K to not be considered direct competition. Financially making NBA Street is less risky than NBA Live for a number of reasons. First the last NBA Street game NBA Street Homecourt released in 2007 sold 0.66 million copies. While selling under a million is not good and explains why we have not seen a NBA Street game in years, NBA Street Homecourt sold at least 400,000 more copies than NBA Live 14. Second the 3 on 3 basketball format for NBA Street games means EA would only have to create 3 NBA players from the 30 NBA teams instead of having to create the whole team. Third since NBA Street uses outside basketball courts in city environments, EA would not have to create real NBA stadiums and could chose to make completely fictional basketball courts. Fourth since this new NBA Street will not cost 60 dollars, EA can save money on game modes. The new NBA Street would only need to allow a head to head online mode, head to head offline mode, create a player, and a season or tournament mode. Lastly games that are offered online download only can be very successful. State of Decay a download only game that came out exclusive on Xbox Live for the Xbox 360 sold 250,000 digital copies in the first 48 hours of its release, and The Walking Dead Game Season 1, with five episodes per season, sold over 8.5 million episodes.
I believe a new NBA Street game could be a major success and something EA should seriously consider.