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5 Ways EA & NBA Live Can Challenge 2K

If you're a basketball fan and a gamer you know the NBA Live series has had some highs, but more so lows over the last few years. Recently NBA Live 20 was cancelled and EA left many wondering where the franchise was heading. The NBA 2K series has undoubtedly dominated the market for some time now, but how should EA approach their next title if they want to push for the throne?

5 Ways EA & NBA Live Can Challenge 2K

Competition is good for the market, and it’s no different when it comes to the games industry. If you’ve been following basketball games over the last decade, you know there hasn’t been much competing in the market. Take a look at 2K over the last few years. EA’s recent lack of pressure has undoubtedly caused 2K to pull their feet from the gas. Every year a majority of gamers like myself defer to 2K, and there’s of course no shame in that, to each their own. But what makes it bad is how easily we decide to go with 2K. We need competition, and by no stretch is it easy taking down a behemoth that is 2K. But here are some starting points for the team over at EA Sports to consider for their future NBA Live title.

Return To NCAA 

Sometimes you need a fresh start, and what better way to approach a fresh start than changing the title of your game, ey? Let’s face it, we don’t associate NBA Live with positive emotions. Well, not anymore. We also know that the NBA and NBPA have a strong relationship with 2K as the recent $1.1 billion deal indicates. So, why not go down the NCAA route again? EA have in the past produced NCAA basketball games that many have fond memories of and recently, it was announced that college athletes are able to financially benefit from their name, image and likeness. It’s a perfect opportunity for EA to snap up and make their own unique basketball game experience. Don’t get me wrong, the NBA will of course attract more attention than college basketball but let’s not forget, gameplay is king. If you craft a creative, well functioning game with online game modes, it won’t fly under the radar. Not for basketball gamers who are tired of 2K’s recent lackluster efforts anyway.

New Engine

Looks great! Plays... eh?

Looks great! Plays… eh?

Let’s get to some of the more meatier issues. If you’ve ever played NBA Live, you know that some animations just don’t look or feel right, and a big reason for this is EA’s Ignite engine. You may remember Ignite from FIFA and Madden, the engine they used to run on before the move to the Frostbite engine in 2017. But why is NBA Live still running on Ignite? These are some small details you can pick up on as to why Live isn’t doing so well. It’s as if EA doesn’t have much hope given that the engine is old and the team that works on the title is a lot smaller than others at the company. But with a new title and generation of consoles comes a new engine that could spark some interest in the game. As said earlier, gameplay is king, and engines dictate how games run and feel. It’s inevitable that EA must craft a new game engine that runs with all of their sports titles, and not just some. Leave no man behind!

Dev Team

Probably not one that fits EA’s plans considering they laid off 350 people, but they must hire more devs. There clearly isn’t a big enough team as NBA Live has been delayed and outright cancelled at the last minute multiple times. A company like EA should not have issues with resources when it comes to hiring more creative team members. I refuse to believe decision makers at EA expect NBA Live to significantly effect 2K’s market share, all while they have a small team and a game engine that none of their titles use. Hiring more devs of course does not guarantee a phenomenal game, but it’s a good place to start when you’re not meeting release date deadlines or straight up cancelling a game in development. A larger team with creative talent also leads to my next point.

Servers & Functionality 

Meme culture and streaming dominates social media nowadays and honestly, it didn’t really help NBA Live’s already tarnished image. A lot of server stability issues could be observed over the years and on the other end, bugs and glitches caused the franchise to not be taken seriously. Without a doubt, every game has its glitches and issues, but Live suffered more from this as 2K is already leading the market. The desire for a bigger team not only leads to more creative ideas and meeting deadlines but meeting those deadlines with a polished product. The idea here is to strive to produce the best looking and feeling game in a consistent manner, year in and year out. It goes without saying, make sure the game is functioning well on release! It’s a problem we see with 2K every year. Doesn’t everyone feel like a beta tester on the first month of 2K’s release?

Free To Play

EA have with previous titles experimented with the concept of free to play or early access game modes. Free to play models can lead to an immense amount of success and we see this in EA published Apex Legends. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every company has to try a free to play model. But when you’re EA with NBA Live, you sort of have no choice, right? The negative perception players have of EA’s basketball games over the last few years suggests that they must dabble in the free to play market. This will at bare minimum get players out there giving your game a chance without spending a dime. And if your game is good, then it’s likely to pick up some steam and inevitably gain attraction. So many free to play games have, so why not a basketball game that improves on areas that 2K lack in?

Will the next Live be as good as this lineup?

Will the next Live be as good as this lineup?

The more important side of this suggestion is that EA needs to focus on a free to play model in which microtransactions are not tied to progression. This is easier said than done, but take a look at Epic with Fortnite. It’s difficult but certainly possible, especially with a basketball game in which you can monetise cosmetics and customisables. Yes, players are mad at 2K for adding VC to almost everything, but it’s a given! We’re not happy with this because we just spent $50 on the game, another $40 on VC to upgrade our player, and now we need more for clothes! Players are more likely to spend money on customisables if your base product revolves around a free to play concept, as is indicated by many free games.

Look, i’m not saying 2K is awful. But it’s so obvious that there’s a lack of effort on their behalf, simply because EA as competitors are just not bringing the best out of them. The transition between 2K192K20 has been disappointing, and EA’s lack of presence doesn’t have everything, but something to do with it.

Let me know what you want from EA and Live in the future.

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