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The Curious Case of NBA Live

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Breakups suck. Like for real, they really, really, REALLY DO. When breakups occur three things can potentially happen:

  1. Both go their separate ways to live life happily without each other.
  2. Both go their separate ways and life gets horrible for both (really doubt this happens often).
  3. Both go their separate ways and while one strives to become even better with their next partner, the other treads water, hoping to get that old thing back some day; no matter how much evidence is provided that it’s time to move on.


Think of these three things when it comes to the relationship between you and NBA Live. Ask yourself which situation is yours and who’s playing what role. For me it’s easily option three, for others it could be different. We all treat love and hardship in our own ways; some hold on easier, some let go easier, but hopefully we do what we feel is best.

For both my childhood and those of many readers, NBA Live was THE basketball game to have since the 90s. Nothing else compared to it; it was the staple basketball game that had to be possessed. I remember my after school program having game nights where everyone would cram around to either play NFL Blitz or NBA Live. In the 2000’s came new technology which also meant new gaming consoles. Along came the Sega Dreamcast in what we now see as the system we all needed and deserved. The one problem: NBA Live wasn’t available for Dreamcast. With that being the case, SEGA decided to create their own basketball game, later known as the NBA 2K Series. They were instantly popular with the choice of putting Allen Iverson on the cover. Aside from having some of the same issues as NBA Live, most notably the absence of Michael Jordan. Instead we were given Scott Player: a fake MJ who didn’t even wear 23 but did have his attributes (although MJ appeared in I think two random versions of live.) 2K gave fans a choice that no longer required the alternative of simply not playing basketball games.

Over the years 2K and Live have battled one another for basketball gaming supremacy. They did the same with football, but as we all know EA Sports quickly killed the competition with the NFL Exclusive only deal in 2004. NBA Live 2005 will forever be the game that made us all believe that no matter who came around Live would still be the king. It was the first to provide us with NBA All-Star weekend activities featuring the three point contest and the dunk contest. Nothing since has come close to it with the dunks you can do; even 2K has it featured in their games and it’s nowhere near better than NBA Live ‘05. With new game features meant a new cover star and in 2005 we were given Carmelo Anthony. NBA 2K5? Ben Wallace


Yeah, that Ben Wallace … Allen Iverson was replaced by Ben Fucking Wallace.


For a while I stopped playing video games. I want to say for most of my time in highschool time I didn’t even own a gaming system. Then right before my freshman year of college at Norfolk State I received a Xbox 360 as a birthday gift and I was officially back in the gaming world. That was the summer of 2009, so at this time I began to learn through friends and fellow college peers that NBA 2K was now the game to have. I was confused, astonished, and angry. I thought everyone was loyal and understood that you could never choose NBA 2K over Live, LIKE HOW DARE YOU?!?!?!?!

On top? NBA Live 09 Bottom? NBA 2K Photo credits: IGN & EA Sports

On top: NBA Live 09
Bottom: NBA 2K
Photo credits: IGN & EA Sports

Then I played both games and understood why everyone chose a new team. Aside from giving Kobe Bryant the cover, everything about NBA Live 2009 felt exactly like 2005. The graphics didn’t look that much different and the gameplay felt absolutely the same. It made me question if anything had changed from then ‘til now. Aside from having to compete with 2K, Live also had to compete with fellow EA Sports mainstays Madden NFL, and (at the time) NCAA Football. Every year those games dramatically got better in gameplay and graphics so why couldn’t NBA Live do the same, especially while under the same company? Yes I know those who work on Live don’t go near Madden and vice versa but for there to not feel like no progress was made in years was very disappointing to see. What 2K9 brought that Live ‘09 didn’t was sheer improvement. I knew it was a much different and much better overall game.

From this point forward ‘til now I’ve been loyal to NBA 2K. The game is simply a must have,  especially ever since next-generation consoles arrived with the PS4 and Xbox One. While loving and enjoying 2K, I couldn’t help but keep my eyes out on NBA Live. For sure they took a very rough bump in the road but I still had a place in my heart for them. NBA Live went on to do a major overhaul that resulted in a canceled NBA Live ‘11 and no more games until NBA Live ‘14 for the PS4. I was excited for the return because a new system meant new graphics, better presentation, better everything. Right?

No, not so much. The graphics were vastly Improved but in competition you know you have to step it up. With the way NBA 2K rolled out their next generation game with LeBron James, NBA Live simply didn’t deliver.

To be honest in the past 10 years, all NBA Live has done is fail to deliver.

So why is it even still a thing?

Thanks to Vgzcharts.com the numbers also give an important indication of how the people feel. Since NBA Live ‘07 the franchise hasn’t sold over a million units in each of the follow games: ‘09,’10,’14,’15, and currently ‘16. None of these games have individually sold over a million copies, which is saddening considering NBA Live ‘05 sold over 2.5 Million worldwide. On the other side 2K’s numbers have only gotten better. While there was a bit of a stable spot up until the Next Gen consoles, the game was always outselling Live, so there was a sense of success. Next-Gen success has completely given 2K the war victory where  NBA 2K16 has sold 7.29 million copies globally for all gaming platforms, and NBA Live? Barley over 250,000.

The math doesn’t need to be explained to wonder why NBA Live won’t die. With news coming out that NBA Live ‘17 won’t be released on gaming platforms until 2017 and only as a mobile game for 2016, one has to wonder if there’s even a point in still doing this. The beauty of sports games is that they are released right before a new season begins. If it’s hard enough for you to compete with your rival when you drop your games around the same time, how is waiting until we’ve had months of giving 2K our everything going to make your sales matter more?  This all seems like a franchise we’ve loved and endured is fighting a pointless fight. Maybe it’s ego or pride, because pride is definitely a mother fucker and NBA Live will for sure learn the hard way as sales continue to decline.

It’s all soon going to conclude with us giving EA Jordan crying face memes, and DJ Khaled telling them politely…






Photo credits: IGN,EA Sports, Google

Data credit: Vgchartz.com

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A Brooklyn guy who wakes up wishing there was a Chick-Fil-A in his neighborhood. I truly wish I could be as good as my created players in NBA 2K and Madden.The one Red Sox fan in the entire city. The Knicks were so bad growing up I became a Laker fan, and now god is punishing me. Active WWE Network Subscriber.

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