NBA Elite 11 is no more and it's because EA opted not to bring a sub-par product to market.
During an IndustryGamers interview with CEO John Riccitiello, the boss admitted to pushing the project hard early on, especially considering the ambitious scope of the NBA Live successor. He provided everyone with an inside look at what the game would've been like, had they managed to complete the process:
"The team set out a year and a half ago, with a very ambitious goal. They fundamentally changed the control scheme… double analog stick gameplay. You could bounce the ball back and forth between your hands, dribble independently… all sorts of tricky moves. To be honest with you, I spent significant amount of time with that interface, thinking this was revolutionary. Let’s be clear about this: I personally endorsed the game design a long time ago – way, way, way before we knew how the game was going to finish. We set a really ambitious target. We wanted to revolutionize the way simulation basketball was played."
Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. The game suffered from serious animation issues and they determined they could ship a "high-80s game" by February. Things just weren't coming together and there was an added difficulty: basketball has a season. As Riccitiello said, unlike a GTA or a NFS title, fans of the NBA want to have a virtual incarnation ready to go for the pro season.
"The question is, 'would a simulation game after Christmas resonate in the market anyway, no matter how good it was?' It was a hard choice. Choice A: ship a product that our customers are going to be disappointed in, which every company has done from time to time, but ship one that we’re very certain they’re going to be disappointed with, or polish it up and give it to them after it’s no longer relevant, and impinge on the next season’s development process, or cancel it. That was not an easy decision. I don’t know that many companies would have made the same decision."
Well, even if we didn't get NBA Elite 11 , we did get NBA Jam , which is a fair amount of arcade-y fun. And although EA couldn't capitalize, there's always NBA 2K11 for the sim lovers.