When NBA Live 14 was released last November, the reviews, as stated before, weren’t flattering. Many fours and fives were given out to the franchise’s first title in four years, which didn’t sit well with the development team at EA Sports.
These low scores lead the team to realize that they couldn’t just wait until NBA Live 15 was released to address a lot of the issues. Instead, they worked countless hours to prepare gameplay and visual updates to NBA Live 14 to prove to their audience that they weren’t just in it for the money.
“We got hammered, and we didn’t like seeing the scores that were coming in,” executive producer Sean O’Brien said.
O’Brien admitted that though the reviews were nowhere near what the team wanted or hoped, he wasn’t going to let them deter the developers from getting to the point where they can be proud of the game and content they were pumping out.
“It’s extremely important for our team to understand what good looks like,” O’Brien expressed. “The further along we go and the larger strides we make, more people are going to understand what good looks like. That’s important as we develop our software, and ultimately develop this great NBA basketball experience.”
This adaptive mindset directly lead to EA Sports pumping out major content updates over the next five months to improve the quality of the game.
From visual updates to improved gameplay experiences, NBA Live 14 saw drastic improvement during its lifecycle. One particular improvement was the addition of the practice gym to teach players the controls.
With the series being dormant for so long, fans had no idea how to play the game when they first picked it up for Xbox One or PlayStation 4. In fact, it was so bad that the lack of a practice mode turned fans away from the series completely.
Seeing this, O’Brien’s team worked to add a practice arena in one of the first major updates to prove to fans that they have their best interests in mind. It’s all about being open and transparent for O’Brien and the developers at EA Sports, which is something he feels the fans want to see.
“The intent was to be honest about where we are,” O’Brien said in terms of how the team went about updating the game. “We weren’t trying to really sell what we’re doing. Instead, we’re trying to educate everyone on what our vision was, and what our story is.”
But why so many content updates throughout the year? O’Brien believes that because of what the next-gen PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles allow developers to do in terms of updates, it only makes sense to constantly improve your game based on feedback and maintain relevancy throughout its life cycle.
“Our games are more like experiences, and they’re evolving throughout the course of the year,” he said. “Meaning they’re getting better, they’re adapting to the season and they’re adapting to trends. So, gone are the days where we ship a package good once a year, and maybe update a few things or update rosters.”
Still, no matter what O’Brien says to try and pique the interests of the players, he knows that it’s about showing what you are doing, not saying it.
“It’s easy for me to say, ‘hey, we’ll update the game and make it better. It will be great!’,” he said. “We have to prove it — here’s our areas of focus, here’s what we want to attack and here’s why it has to be in ’15 rather than in an update for ’14 — and really, sort of, pull down the curtain on how we developed in the past.”
NBA Live 15 will launch on October 7 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and fans should continue to expect monthly content updates during that game’s year-long cycle as well.
Sound off FanSiders! How do you feel about O’Brien’s takes on why content should be updated throughout a game’s lifecycle? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! And be sure to look out for part five of the NBA Live series on Friday.