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EA Bundles NBA Jam HD with NBA Elite 2011

NBA Jam comes to the PS3 and Xbox 360, but with a catch.

On Aug. 3rd, Electronic Arts announced that the HD version of NBA Jam will be bundled with the newly rebranded NBA Elite 2011 (formerly NBA Live) on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

EA Sports’ Vice President of MarketingJordan Edelstein said:

The addition of three free downloadable modes of the award winning NBA JAM is an unprecedented value add to a product that is already set to revolutionize the basketball videogame category.

A one-time download code for the PS3 and 360 versions will be included in copies of Elite ’11. The code includes three modes- Classic Campaign, Play Now, and online play.

The Remix Tour on the Wii version-which includes boss battles against basketball legends like Magic Johnson- isn’t included in the PS3/360 versions. Talking to ESPN, Edelstein said the Remix Tour provides around 20 hours of gameplay.

The Wii version of NBA Jam is a standalone title and the full version of the game.

On the Playstation Blog, Yaw, EA Canada’s NBA Community Manager, confirmed there are no plans for the HD version of NBA Jam to be sold separately. He said:

To make NBA ELITE the ultimate basketball experience for you, we will be including three modes of NBA JAM for FREE with NBA ELITE 11. That’s right, not only will you be getting NBA ELITE 11 when you buy the game, but you will also have NBA JAM available as well — so for the price of one game, you’re getting two full NBA experiences. Another important note to share with all of you — the ONLY way you will be able to play NBA JAM for the PS3 is to buy NBA ELITE 11.

Many were upset at the news, feeling that EA is forcing people to buy a game they don’t want, and that features are missing from the PS3/360 version.

Emtiff wrote:

This is about the dumbest thing you could have done – I totally would have bought NBA Jam as a PSN download, but I have absolutely no interest in playing a full basketball game like Elite. The whole point of NBA Jam is that it appeals to even non-basketball fans like me.

Yaw responded:

I don’t see it like that. You’re getting two unique basketball experiences for the price of one game. I understand that you’re looking to play NBA JAM as are a number of other gamers but to call it dumb that you’re getting two unique basketball experiences in one game, I couldn’t disagree with you more.

No official explanation was given as to why the game isn’t being sold separately.

Online play for the Wii has yet to be confirmed. According to Trey Smith, Creative Director for NBA Jam, the Wii version will have over 100 unlockables, which include teams and celebrity players, reported IGN. No word if all those unlockables will be available on the PS3 and 360.

EA Canada is developing NBA Jam. NBA Elite 2011 launches Oct. 5th at $59.99. The Wii version of NBA Jam also releases the same day for $49.99.

Discussion

EA is complicating a situation that doesn’t need to be complicated. People want NBA Jam. People have money. EA wants money. Why is this disconnect happening?

EA could release NBA Jam on the PS3 and 360 for full retail price and it would probably move a lot of copies. This is a terrible marketing decision by EA. They could be making more money by selling two individual games. Instead, they’re putting everything behind Elite ’11 in the hopes that it can compete against NBA 2K11.

It’s funny how both versions are missing important features- for the Wii online play, and the PS3/360, the Remix Tour. The HD version feels like nothing more than a demo. It’s definitely not the total experience. Even Jordan Edelstein agrees. Edelsteintold ESPN:

We’re not selling ‘Jam’ on PSN or Xbox Live. If you still want the full product, the full experience is on the Wii, but if you pick up ‘Elite’, you’re still getting a good taste of it, especially with the inclusion of online play.

Exactly. You’re only getting a “taste” of NBA Jam. Nobody wants just a taste. They want the whole damn entrée.

You’re losing almost 20 hours of game time if you get the HD version. That’s a lot of time! I’m very curious to see if all the unlockables will be available on the PS3/360 versions if it’s not the complete game.

Just because you like NBA Jam doesn’t mean you like traditional basketball games. They’re two different audiences. EA just ends up alienating those who were interesting in Jam on the PS3 and 360. Some people don’t want Elite ’11. They want NBA Jam.

This move also doesn’t show much faith in their new Elite brand when the selling point of it is now an entirely different game.

FROM DOWNTOWNand EA misses.

Photo by Electronic Arts

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