989 Sports benches football and basketball franchises

Sony's first-party sports development house announces that NFL GameDay, NCAA GameBreaker, NBA ShootOut, and NCAA Final Four will sit out the 2004-2005 season.

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Just over a month after Microsoft benched most of its XSN sports games, Sony-owned studio, 989 Sports, has announced that the majority of its series will also sit the 2005 season out. NFL GameDay, NCAA GameBreaker, NBA ShootOut, and NCAA Final Four will not be released this season, according to a statement released today by Sony Computer Entertainment America and 989 Sports.

Though unrelated, the XSN and 989 Sports hiatuses were both officially spurred by quality concerns. "We need more time to create the game and establish the new benchmark in sports games," said SCEA's Paul Murphy, sports public relations specialist. Saying SCEA's decision was prompted by "market feedback," Murphy stressed sales of the games in franchise were not disappointing.

989 was careful to note that other franchises would not be affected. Development is continuing as planned on the MLB and World Tour Soccer franchises, as well as the upcoming Athens 2004 Olympic game and 989's new NHL hockey franchise, which will debut this fall.

Indeed, Murphy held up the success of the MLB franchise as the model 989 Sports would follow. "The additional time and development put into MLB allowed it to be the success it is," he told GameSpot.

Murphy also stressed that all four suspended franchises would return on current-generation consoles. "You'll see them on this generation of consoles," he said, "We've got a separate development team working on the PSP."

Overall, SCEA was careful to emphasize that they have no intention of abandoning sports games altogether, reaffirming that, "Sports games are a critical part of Sony Computer Entertainment America’s first-party lineup. Sony Computer Entertainment America is committed to investing in this category with new technology and added staff to insure that our games not only close the competitive gap but also that all 989 Sports franchises live up to their former reputation."

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