EA on the Rebound

How EA can improve its next basketball sim by looking at its own franchises and the world of basketball.

After the sudden cancelation of NBA Elite 11 back in October 2010, fans of the National Basketball Association only had one franchise to choose from: 2K Sports' NBA 2K series. Thankfully, 2K's brand of basketball is viewed as one of the best sports franchises on the market, and that distinction probably won't change in the near future, unless EA takes some significant risks with its basketball franchise. Tiburon and EA Sports are under a lot of pressure to deliver a solid basketball game that will not only compete with 2K down the road, but also surpass it.

2K Sports went back in time for NBA 2K12 and was extremely well received.

For the future EA NBA game to work and become the de facto basketball game on the market, it has to "borrow" elements from other sports games. Even though development shifted from its Vancouver studios to Tiburon in Florida, those working on EA NBA need to look at what has made both NHL and FIFA EA's marquee sports titles. Both games do a fantastic job of delivering an authentic presentation with excellent commentary, stadium design, player animations, and more. Those games not only make players feel as though they are playing a realistic-looking sports game, but they can also fool a bystander into thinking it's a real event by focusing on presentation.

Basketball broadcasts are flashy because, perhaps, the sport is fast paced and its athletes are celebrities. Even if you don't follow the sport regularly, you could probably identify a number of basketball players, current or retires. While 2K has recently focused on celebrating the past, EA should focus on the present by ensuring that players are properly replicated in the game. This means every aspect of a player's movements on and off the court should play out as they would in a real game. While 2K has done a great job of replicating player shooting animations, other aspects, such as off-the-ball reactions, movements (both on the court and on the bench), and other details, disconnect the gamer from the real experience. If a player has a particular running motion while playing, the same movements should be in game. EA needs to take advantage of this and make sure that it brings extra attention to these facets of the sport.

And EA shouldn't just focus on NBA players either. Basketball is a global sport and EA needs to embrace this fact. Previous NBA Live games have included national teams, but why not include full Euroleague support? There are a lot of great basketball players in Spain, Italy, Russia, and other European countries so giving fans extra teams and modes could be quite interesting. Basketball matches in Europe are mostly held in smaller arenas that give off an intimate but intimidating feel. Scores are usually close, and in basketball-centric countries, like Greece and Serbia, fans take the support of their teams and hatred of their opposition to a whole different level.

Indeed, the Euroleague is an interesting concept where 24 of the continent's best basketball clubs play against each other. They start off in four groups of six and play against each other in a round-robin format. Then, the top four in each group are thrown into four additional groups of four, with the top two advancing to the play-offs. All are vying for a place in the Euroleague Final Four, which is held in a different European city every year. A lot of great European players make their mark in this league and the matches are almost always tightly contested. At the same time, this opens the door for EA to break into the European market, and the inclusion of European clubs would help it stand apart from NBA 2K.

Here's another reason to include foreign teams: Ultimate Team mode. EA has proven how popular this mode is during the past few years. It originally started as paid downloadable content, but now, every professional team sports game includes the mode from day one. FIFA has it. NHL has it. Even Madden has its own version. Because the NBA's roster of players is the smallest of the professional sports in North America, foreign leagues would help flesh it out. Again, this is something that no basketball game does, including 2K, which would give EA's version of the sport a much needed advantage.

Although we've pointed out some of the features that should be included in the upcoming EA NBA game, the most important thing that needs to be addressed is the actual gameplay. EA needs to ensure the game is authentic to the sport and simultaneously easy to pick up and play. Past Live games did a fine job with the right analog stick for dribbling, which gave players more control with crossovers, back steps, and other moves. If EA wants to incorporate the right analog stick for shooting, like NBA 2K, then EA needs to ensure that players have the ability to do both right-analog and button-pressing shooting without needing to go into a menu to change mid-game. In NBA JAM: On Fire Edition, a recently released EA arcade basketball game, shooting and controls worked extremely well and could be used to the same degree. Obviously, some adjustments need to be made to accommodate 360-degree movements, but in the right hands, this issue shouldn't be that difficult to overcome.

NBA JAM: On Fire Edition has been one of the most popular downloadable games this year.

We don't know much regarding the next EA NBA game, other than the fact that one will eventually make its way onto store shelves. In any case, whatever EA decides to do with its basketball game, the most important thing is for EA not to rush to release a game just to have one to release. At the same time, it needs to accept that its basketball game won't immediately dethrone NBA 2K because EA is in catch-up mode. If EA does bring basketball fans something fresh and different, it will help set the foundation for future releases and give EA an opportunity to get back into the game.

Written By

Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Content Manager for EA SPORTS.

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Discussion

30 comments
cccp3000
cccp3000

NBA JAM takes me back to my childhood, good memories.

EPaul
EPaul

I hope the extra dev time makes NBA Elite 12 awesome i used to be a Live guy but after 2K9 i couldnt go back

CincoToes
CincoToes

@Marko Djordjevic I like how you decided to treat EA like some start-up as opposed to the behemoth that it is. Tips to help the little guy, I suppose. @$$#*!&

ahpuck
ahpuck

I used to love sport games back in the day, when we used to play with 3-5 buttons and a d-pad. Now days sports games are so damn complicated I don't find them enjoyable anymore. Hold L2 white pressing right then press x, spin around a couple of times then release x for an alley-oop. . just too complicated for my tastes.

mont345
mont345

@Blackmetabee23 wtf you talking about 2k didnt have no part in making that piece of s#@%t game backbreaker where did you get your info? and yes madden 12 is a piece of ish also crappy controls the main part of making a good sports game is the controls.. you only think its good cause you dont no nothing but stupid madden...

whitetiger3521
whitetiger3521

Basketball games are just rehashes after the next. They just need to make a new basketball game every 2 or 3 years and have the roster updated every year instead of a new game.

xiroa
xiroa

just work on the online mode EA and perhaps I will consider a purchase.

theslimdavylp
theslimdavylp

I love 2k but it would be nice to have another basketball game. Unlike the monopoly that is Madden

rossrjensen
rossrjensen

2K needs to make a new College Hoops game!!! College Hoops 2k8 nearly perfected dynasty mode. I still play it to this day with several of my friends, creating coaches and building the ultimate teams. So much depth and intricacy! I may have sunk more hours into that game than anything else out there.

nastyhotpocket
nastyhotpocket

i could care less about Euroleague BS if anything put college in it... i know all about EAs basketball history i grew up playing bulls vs lakers on sega genesis and basketball games have always been my thing because i played basketball i think ive played every basketball game ever made...nba 2k11 and 2k12 are the best basketball games ever made...please just make a college game EA let 2k have the nba.because they do it best.

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

EA should stop looking at themselves sometimes and look what other companies are doing too!

Blackmetabee23
Blackmetabee23

yall smoking some serious weed in this ***** how the hell are yall comparing a football game to a nba game seriously 2k didnt have the money back in 05 to get the football license the license agreement expires next year so 2k has a chance but madden is well known did yall buy backbreaker for 2k i dont think so that game was trash compared to madden all 2k ( FOOTBALL GAMES SUCK) the controls are chunky and blocky the reason 2k took off was bc ea should have just stuck to the arcade style nba jam dat ish nba street that isshhh nfl blitz that iishh so before yall open yall mouth and compare nba to nfl to video games and there not the same sport think

jonzilla_basic
jonzilla_basic

Its a Must that EA does a Basketball game again. That will force 2K to actually produce a basketball game without all of the Friggen bugs.

mont345
mont345

I played madden 12 after playing NBA 2k12 and it was a rap for madden the player movement and stuff is just crap NBA 2k12 just controls butter smooth, I don't no how anyone can play madden with those crappy controlls. thank god I rented it!!!

voldo25
voldo25

I had NBA Elite on my PS3 and it was awful.The game was never released but thanks to the magic of the internet people tend to acquire things they are not supposed to. Watch EA do something stupid and try to buy the NBA licence like they did with the NFL. I will cry.

zaiwen
zaiwen

2k is better in every way, presentation, audio, graphics, gameplay, fun factor etc... EA should be in the nba lockout for good

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Im sure if 2k football was still around madden wouldve been shelved..You know ive bought madden this year an never looked back havent touched it..How ever bought 2k basketball and i play at least 2 games on my player a night...No what i love it..Only thing i dont like is it cheats..During the play offs..That should be fixed.. I think what happen to live it got old..They didnt do any thing new to it for years..Or perhaps what they did do was make it to unrealistic..2k Has strived to make there games better every yr its what ea should do..Instead they dont they market one little thing theyve inproved an called it a improvement..Well a lot of people are getting tired of madden including myself..

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

Shame EA got the NFL license... otherwise this article would be talking about NFL 2k too. Reason the 2k series does so well is because they don't come across as shafting their customers every year with a rehashed product with nothing to offer but updated rosters. They actually take the game they have and think "how can we improve this?".

evil_devil_mons
evil_devil_mons

2k is best. i don't think EA will able to compete with 2k

mont345
mont345

2k didn't buy the NBA license like e.a. bought the NFL license 2k just straight up beat e.a into submission, and made them quit making live...lol.

AlphaWILL
AlphaWILL

i cant wait to see wat fhey come out with....everything content wise is always pretty good in older EA NBA games although i would love a my player mode to see wat they can do with it...but none of that really matters cuz the game always plays and feels jerky...skating players horrible animations bad dribbler vs defender interactions its small but the ball and rim/net interaction is disgusting in live 10 also the graphics ...they look like hd collections of ps2 games they really need to get rid of those cartoonish upgraded cell shaded lookin graphics If they can fix these things the next EA NBA game will share sum hdd space with 2k

deathstream
deathstream

Lock out the guys that made all the other awful EA Sports titles?

russian_takeout
russian_takeout

to compete, all EA needs to do, is make good looking, real feel like basketball game. euro league, ncaa, legend teams, dream teams... are only nice on the paper. basically, its just a content. with out good game engine, they mean nothing. imagine, brand new car, with super duper upgrades, shape and what not... but it doesnt go over 40 km/h.

ZDowski13
ZDowski13

EA just stick with NBA jam and let 2k do the rest.

cr8ive
cr8ive

Hey Marko, sounds like you're really hoping for EA to improve and release their NBA game eh? NBA2K12 glitches starting to get on your nerves? :) Welcome aboard!

joce667
joce667

I hope they put 100 $ Dlc like virtual air jordan or alt jersey .

edgarp
edgarp

the last time EA made a good basketball game, music was still an artform and i was 12 years old. NBA LIVE 98 FTW. from then on it was just down-hill. and now here we are. my advice for u EA, give up on nba, u lost it years ago

oflow
oflow

They can improve the game by going back to the playstyle of Live 2003 back when the game still had a semblance of reality and you couldnt just jack 3's from half court every possession. EA got complacent and 2K actually stayed hungry and took your crown. If the past 4-5 years are any indication based on the developers you have working on the game that actually know nothing about basketball it might be time to let this franchise go.

nastyhotpocket
nastyhotpocket

nba 2k killed your franchise move on.thats why they should put all there energy into a good ncaa basketball game because thats what it would take...i think EA is just to lazy to do anything right anymore.