Just one week before it was scheduled to hit shelves, EA Sports on Monday indefinitely delayed NBA Elite 11 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, indicating that quality concerns raised by the demo’s dismal showing necessitated the postponement.
“Unfortunately, NBA Elite 11 is not yet ready and we have made a decision to delay next month’s launch,” Moore said, without specifying a new release date. “The decision to delay NBA ELITE was hard because the game has great promise. But ultimately we feel this is the right thing to do. We’ve been making steady progress on basketball for the past few years and it’s going to take extra time to make the game.”
NBA Jam, the arcade-style two-on-two game also due on October 5, will still ship on that date for the Wii. The PS3 and Xbox 360 version was to have been included with a free download code in NBA Elite 11. Moore said that game will now be a standalone product that will arrive “in time for the holidays”. He did not indicate a price point or if this will be a physical retail release or digital download.
Additionally, Moore said that NBA Live 10, the series’ previous entry, will be fully supported throughout the NBA’s 2010 and 2011 season. This means it will get a full roster update for the current year, plus the Dynamic DNA updates that track players’ real-world performance and tendencies. This DLC will be free, Moore noted.
Reaction to NBA Elite 11’s demo was extremely harsh across many leading sports video game sources and message boards. Many felt the game was a step back from last year’s NBA Live 10, which while not a breakthrough title, was probably the best it’s ever been on the current console generation. NBA Elite 11’s demo faced dull visuals, lack of polish and found the remade control set very difficult to grasp. Embarrassing bugs such as this one also did not help.
“NBA Elite had the benefit of play-testing, a demo and a lot of our own research,” Moore wrote. “All that feedback revealed some concerns about gameplay polish, so we’ve listened to your feedback and made a judgment that the game would benefit from more time in development.”
Earlier this year, Moore assigned David Littman, the producer of EA Sports’ acclaimed NHL series, to the NBA team in an effort to overhaul a franchise that had lagged considerably behind NBA 2K, in both sales and quality, on the current console generation. The development team crafted an entirely new control set based on the analogue sticks, though classic face-button-based controls were still an option.
But in a sign that NBA Live/Elite’s new focus and controls were not without some internal controversy, designer Mike Wang, a veteran of NBA 2K who left for EA Sports in 2008, returned to 2K Sports after just a year with NBA Live, indicating creative differences were part of his motivation for doing so.