NBA Live 20 delayed to late 2019

Electronic Arts has yet to officially announce NBA Live 20, this year’s installment in its troubled simulation basketball franchise, but on Tuesday, the publisher quietly delayed the game into the last quarter of the year.

While EA hasn’t publicly spoken about NBA Live 20, let alone marketed the game, it did appear in the schedule of upcoming releases that the publisher put out in May, alongside its earnings report for the 2019 fiscal year. In EA’s slide presentation for investors, the company slotted NBA Live 20 into the second quarter of its 2020 fiscal year — which runs from July 1 to Sept. 30 — alongside all three of the other annual EA Sports titles: Madden NFL 20, NHL 20, and FIFA 20.

EA released a new financial report on Tuesday, detailing its earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended June 30. NBA Live 20 still appears in the slide presentation accompanying that earnings statement — but it’s listed in the third fiscal quarter, which means EA is now planning to release the game between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

Reached for comment, an EA Sports representative told Polygon, “We’re planning a different approach to NBA LIVE this year, and will have more to share in the quarter ahead.”

Basketball video games typically launch in September, a few weeks before the start of the NBA regular season. EA’s competition, 2K Sports, has actually been moving up the release date of its NBA 2K titles for the past few years, shifting it from the third week of the month to the first week — NBA 2K20 is set to debut on Sept. 6. In fact, that’s the same week in which EA launched NBA Live 19 last year.

This time around, though, all we’ve had from EA is radio silence. The NBA Live Twitter account has been posting about content updates for NBA Live 19 — the most recent of which, released July 19, raised questions about the status of NBA Live 20. That update included all the roster moves from the start of NBA free agency, which is something that almost never happens for annual sports games. Developers typically stop releasing roster updates once the season ends, and bake any offseason trades and free agent signings into the launch roster for the next annual iteration of the series.

It’s a worrying sign for a gaming franchise with the history that NBA Live has. EA tried to reboot the series in 2010 with NBA Elite 11 but ended up canceling the ill-fated project just before its scheduled release, and it took years for the company to get the franchise back on track. NBA Live’s developers have been working hard over a period of years to restore the series’ good name, and with the well-received career mode in NBA Live 19, they just about brought it back to respectability — even though NBA 2K remains a formidable competitor that EA can’t quite hang with. Any new setback this year would be devastating.

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