NBA Live 20: Why hasn’t EA’s basketball sim been released?

Do EA have a cunning plan for their NBA title this year? Or are fans foolish for waiting?


With each passing day we get closer to the start of the NBA season, and we add another day that EA has failed to let anyone know what is going on with NBA Live 20.

The game was originally supposed to release in early September, along with its rival NBA 2K20, but in July, while EA were still looking to confirm a cover star, they announced the game would be delayed and they’d be taking a ‘different approach’.

It’s been two and a half months since then, and still nothing. Why? Here are some possible reasons we are yet to see NBA Live 20.

READ MORE: Is there any hope for EA’s struggling basketball title?

Waiting for fans to get some NBA 2K fatigue

The latest news we have about NBA Live is that it is expected to release at some point between now and December 31, up to three months after NBA 2K released. Could this be a new tactic to increase sales? It does, happily, line up with Christmas.

While NBA 2K has dominated the basketball sim market for many years, it isn’t without its problems. 2K have yet to make a real rival to EA’s Ultimate Team – though that isn’t necessarily relevant to NBA Live – and the game continues to be plagued by an almost unavoidable pay wall ahead of progress in single player.

The latter is reason enough to deter many players, maybe EA are banking on players, after three months of frustration but in need of a basketball game, will flock to a brand new option that releases right as they are at their breaking point with 2K.

It may work, and adding it being close to Christmas will certainly help, but it is risky if that is the case.

READ MORE: How can EA learn from NBA 2K to save the franchise?

EA are taking their time to perfect the game

This wouldn’t be all that surprising given NBA Live’s history, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest this is the case.

NBA Live 19 was good. It played better than any NBA Live’s ever had and The One had taken another step forward. Issues with Franchise mode remained, as they did with Ultimate Team, the A.I., the game’s balance and the graphic and physics. Nevertheless, it was better from EA.

Given that it did have those issues, are EA just ensuring NBA Live 20 suffers none of them and sets the benchmark for all NBA Live games going forward?

I hope so. What’s frustrating is this isn’t the first time a release has been delayed and at some point EA just have to be able to get it right consistently and on time.

READ MORE: New features to revitalize NBA Live

NBA Live won’t be seen until next-gen consoles release

Perhaps, as it happened with NBA Live 17, there won’t be an NBA Live 20. EA are taking all the time they need to perfect the game ahead of the release of the next-gen consoles.

Sony and Microsoft have announced their next-gen consoles, Playstation 5 and Xbox Project Scarlett, to be released Holiday 2020. They did so in April and June, respectively, at which point NBA Live did not have a cover star.

Perhaps EA thought it would be the perfect excuse to not rush a game they weren’t happy with? Or progressed as much with? If so that could mean NBA Live has a jump on 2K when it comes to the next-gen consoles.

They could be perfecting a next-gen physics engine and player motion and broadening their game modes for more powerful consoles. If so that could make NBA Live 21 one of the hottest releases next year.

READ MORE: NBA Live 19 Ratings: Best Players

This isn’t a delay, it’s the end of NBA Live

This is definitely not my favorite option. It’s also not likely, but it can’t be ruled out.

Despite back-to-back good games, EA may have gotten to a point at which they believe it is not worth their resources to try and compete with NBA 2K in the basketball sim arena.

With the success of FIFA, Madden and NHL, by giving up on a game they’ve struggled to be consistent with they can pour all of their innovation and ideas into their best titles.

This would be sad, as NBA Live does offer a different experience to NBA 2K. It is more forgiving, it’s better for gamers getting into basketball, it’s easier to get in to. What’s more, it would be a shame if we didn’t get to see the next steps of The One.

Nevertheless, with NBA Live’s spotty history, this could be the next and last unfortunate step.


Remy Cabache

I have written with RealSport since 2015, covering a variety of sections on the site as it grew, with a focus on American sports titles like Madden and NBA Live, but I dive into any game I can get my hands on.

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