EA Sports' NBA Live 14 wasn't received well by much of the virtual hoops community, but developers have shown Kobe Bryant-like resilience and commitment to improving the product.
Although I wasn't quite as hard on the game as others, I'd be lying if I said the game was better than its obvious competition, NBA 2K14.
A title update dropped in December to correct a few bugs and to further explain the game mechanics. However, the folks in charge at EA Sports haven't stopped there. A new update will be available as early as Monday that is designed to further improve the product.
I had an opportunity to speak to the game's executive producer, Sean O'Brien, this week. We discussed the details of the new title update, the state of the franchise and the plan to improve the game now and in the future.
Sean also offered an open letter with the official details of the title update. Here's an excerpt from the post:
The last thing I want to mention is that everything we’re doing here—from the improvements we’re making in gameplay and to our visuals, to providing the start of our on-boarding experience with Shootaround—is being built with the future in mind.
We’re making these additions with an eye towards rebuilding NBA LIVE, making sure everything we do today can continue to be improved and iterated upon for next year’s game. Don’t think that we’re doing all this work at the expense of the next NBA LIVE. Instead, we’re building for next year’s title and including everything we can in the current game right now to improve the experience for our loyal fans—the fans who have been there since day 1.
The conversation was enlightening and encouraging. Fans of the series should be happy to hear how committed the team is to improving the game. It's nice to know that Sean and his team aren't denying the areas of the game that are lacking.
Graphics are probably the biggest stumbling block for the franchise, though there are other concerns. Many have seen the images the game's official Twitter account has been posting over the past week. Several NBA players are having their heads scanned for the game. Here's the Detroit Pistons' Brandon Jennings get the star treatment.
This is similar to the technology used in NBA 2K14 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. One look at 2K's visual masterpiece and its easy to see why Live would see fit to incorporate this into the development of their title.
While most are hoping to see the visual improvement after the title update, Sean told me the renders from the facial scans won't take effect until NBA Live 15.
However, there will be some graphical touch-ups to the product that should immediately resonate with gamers. Stay tuned for a before and after demonstration on that front in the future.
For now, take a listen to the audio-only interview.
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