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EA: Why NBA Elite 11 was canned

"It was just going to be a bad game."

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

EA pulled the plug on NBA Elite 11 because "ultimately it was just going to be a bad game", EA Sports bigwig Alan Wilson has admitted.

"The goal of reinventing how people play basketball games and giving the gamer infinitely more control over the outcomes that appear on the screen in front of them was something that just needed to take longer than we had," he explained to IGN.

"We knew the goal was aggressive. But at the same time, we believed it was an important enough goal for the gamer, who'd been playing basketball games in a very similar way for a very long time."

NBA Elite was announced in June and canned in November.

The word Elite was added to the title to signify change; NBA Elite was to "profoundly evolve" the basketball genre in a way that hasn't been seen for "a decade". In practice, this meant new controls: one analogue stick to rule dribbling and shooting; the other analogue stick to boss feet movement. EA's intention will have been to replicate what FIFA had done to PES in the football genre: leapfrog its rival - in this case NBA 2K11.

"We're proud that we made the choice to not just put something out there that wasn't good," said Wilson, even though such a move will have cost EA a considerable amount of money.

"At the very core, we have to build a great game first and foremost."

But the heaviest loss may be conceding this battle to 2K Sports, which will enjoy a competition-free year. And unfortunately for EA, NBA 2K11 has been released to universal acclaim (89 per cent Metacritic average).

The ramifications could even stretch to EA's hotly-contested licensing deal with the NBA leagues. Having nothing to show for itself and such a compelling rival on the market does not bode well.

NBA Elite 11 - now cancelled.

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