NBA Jam $15 Digital Version Overshadows $50 Retail Edition

EA Sports bumbles a classic reboot, and continues to do so.

By , Contributor
NBA Jam's reboot within the hands of EA has a funny history. Initially released on the Wii as a full priced, $50 retail game, the company decided that for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, sports gamers would receive a free copy with NBA Elite 11. That sounded like a great deal, at least until EA pulled NBA Elite 11 from production due to some glaring "quality issues."

That left EA in a pickle, sitting on a possible gold mine with NBA Jam and vintage gamers waiting for a nostalgic kick from this classic reboot. So, in an attempt to save face, EA pushed NBA Jam out the door to store shelves for the 360 and PS3 for a full $50. Players were expecting a free game, no one (except myself) bought it, and discounts ensued en masse.

For a full priced sports game, one would suspect EA to at least offer some type of support for the retail Jam, basics like roster updates or some minor additional quirks. LeBron and Cleveland don't really go together anymore if you haven't noticed. But no, that would have made sense. Instead, EA released a ridiculous statement explaining why they wouldn't be supporting the game, stating their goal was “to deliver HD graphics and online play to round out the great gameplay that defines the franchise. For us to also include roster and title update possibilities, we would have sacrificed quality in those key areas and thus made the difficult decision not to include them.”

And this came less than a week before the $1 iPhone version received a fresh batch of rosters. Go figure.

So, EA screwed a subset of consumers who actually supported NBA Jam for what it rightfully is, a retail-worthy arcade basketball game. However, the sting is far from over, EA Sports now issuing an Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network NBA Jam for only $15, plus it has all of the features the retail version should have. Features like "tag mode," which allows a single player controlling both NBA superstars to switch off and control the other. Artificial intelligence will improve, and the cheaper download version will even play host to some special "razzle dazzle" maneuvers.

You know, all stuff that could have been patched in to the version that cost $50.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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