EA officially unveils NBA Elite 11 as a 'whole new game'


EA Sports has officially announced the rebranding of its long-running basketball franchise to NBA Elite. The previous name, NBA Live, had been around for 16 years -- the series debuted with NBA Live 95 on the Genesis/SNES. Last week, the news leaked out thanks to a preview of NBA Elite 11 in the July issue of Official Xbox Magazine, but the press release from EA offers some details for those who don't want to buy the mag (or look up scans on the Internet). It also came with a logo that features a new font -- look above!

The most significant change that NBA Elite 11 brings is a completely revamped control scheme, dubbed "Hands-On Control." As creative director David Littman (who also happens to hold the same title for EA's NHL series) explains, NBA Elite 11 is "the first basketball simulation videogame where you are controlling every movement, dribble move, shot, dunk, lay-up, steal and block in real time with one-to-one control."

The game is under development at EA Canada along with NHL 11, and just like that game, Elite will feature a real-time physics system that "allows each player on the court to move independently of one another." And the shooting in NBA Elite 11 takes physics into account, including the shooter's position on the court. According to the OXM preview, Hands-On Control puts a heavy focus on the right analog stick, which will be used for major functions such as dribbling and shooting.

So what's the impetus for the clean break from NBA Live? Well, EA certainly wants to emphasize that NBA Elite will introduce an all-new way to play basketball -- EA Sports president Peter Moore boasts that it will "profoundly evolve the interactive basketball experience in a way that the category has not seen for a decade." But the flagging sales performance of the NBA Live series was likely also a major factor in the decision. EA has been losing ground to 2K Sports' NBA 2K series for this entire console generation, and even though 2009's NBA Live 10 garnered higher critical acclaim than NBA Live 09, it sold fewer copies.

A history note: this kind of rebranding certainly isn't unprecedented -- in fact, EA did it during the last console generation with its baseball game. The franchise was called Triple Play from 1995 through 2002, but due to increasingly poor reviews and sales, EA decided to go back to the drawing board in 2003, relaunching the series as MVP Baseball and winning over critics and fans with a fantastic baseball simulation anchored by a control innovation: the pitching meter. It's clear that NBA Live wasn't working for EA, so here's hoping they'll have as much success with NBA Elite as they did with MVP Baseball.

NBA Elite 11 will be out this October for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Hit the jump if you want to pore over the press release yourself.

EA Changes the Game, Announces NBA ELITE 11

EA SPORTS Set to Re-invent the Basketball Simulation Videogame Experience This Fall

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq:ERTS) announced today that NBA ELITE will be the new moniker of the long running EA SPORTS™ NBA videogame franchise. NBA ELITE 11 will revolutionize the way basketball simulation games are played, with an all-new technology base, a new control scheme and a real-time physics system. Currently in development for the PLAYSTATION®3 and the XBOX™ 360, NBA ELITE 11 will be available in retail stores this October.

“We plan to profoundly evolve the interactive basketball experience in a way that the category has not seen for a decade,” says Peter Moore, President, EA SPORTS. “In NBA ELITE 11, we’ll introduce a gameplay experience that gives fans the control on the court that they have been begging for in a basketball game for years.”

Using the design principles from some of EA SPORTS top rated franchises, NBA ELITE 11 introduces several significant gameplay changes that center around user control. The new ‘Hands-On Control’ scheme allows for one-to-one responsiveness of a player’s movement and actions on the court, as opposed to traditional predetermined animations that require users to wait while a scenario played out before making the next move. Hands-on Control applies to everything within a player’s offensive and defensive arsenal, including: dribble moves, dunks, drives to the basket, fadeaways, mid-air adjustments, blocks, steals and more.

The new real-time physics system in NBA ELITE 11 allows each player on the court to move independently of one another, removing the two-man interactions that have long taken the user control out of basketball simulation videogames. In addition, a new skill-based shooting system requires accurate user input, based on a player’s position on the court, versus the randomly generated dice rolls that have driven shooting in basketball videogames in the past.

“NBA ELITE 11 will give gamers the same skill set that a pro basketball player has at his disposal,” said David Littman, Creative Director, NBA ELITE 11. “This is the first basketball simulation videogame where you are controlling every movement, dribble move, shot, dunk, lay-up, steal and block in real time with one-to-one control. You’re no longer going to push a button and watch the computer generate a long animation sequence. It is like being on a basketball court with an amazing set of skills. This is going to change what people have come to expect from a basketball simulation videogame.”

“From the first day of development on this product, it was clear that we intended to pioneer a groundbreaking change in the basketball videogame segment,” said Jordan Edelstein, VP Marketing, EA SPORTS. “It’s a whole new game that warranted a brand new name to fully capture the transformation we intend to deliver in NBA ELITE.”

Electronic Arts has been releasing basketball videogames since 1983. The first game, titled One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, was one of the first basketball games to feature real NBA players. The franchise was rebranded to become NBA LIVE with the release of NBA LIVE 95, a brand that has carried on for 16 years culminating in last year’s NBA LIVE 10. EA’s NBA-licensed franchises have sold more than 25 million units since 1995*.

NBA ELITE 11 will be available for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system with an MSRP of $59.99. It is developed by EA Canada in Burnaby, B.C. The game has not yet been rated by the ESRB or PEGI.

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers personal access to the emotion of sports through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA LIVE basketball, NCAA® Football and NCAA Basketball, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

*According to the TRST/NPD Data

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Samit Sarkar
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