WIN: A copy of NBA 2K11 on PS3 or X360! Enter our contest.

Today comes the not-altogether-surprising (or disappointing) news that EA Sports have made the decision to delay the release of NBA Elite 11. The new title from EA, a rebadging of the NBA Live series, was due to release next month. Instead, we now have an indefinite release date that will fall sometime during the 2011 calendar year.

The developers took on feedback from the gaming community after the recent release of a demo version of the game brought constructive criticism. EA Sports President Peter Moore felt that the team needed more time to get the game “right”.

Over the past three years, EA SPORTS development teams have had a laser focus on creating titles packed with innovation and unsurpassed quality. The acclaim from fans and critics on most of our titles the past few years makes us proud and it also motivates us to keep getting better.

This year, we set extremely ambitious goals for our new franchise, NBA ELITE. We are creating a game that will introduce several breakthrough features that have been missing from the basketball genre. Unfortunately, NBA ELITE 11 is not yet ready and we have made a decision to delay next month’s launch. We are going to keep working until we’re certain we can deliver a breakthrough basketball experience.

This year has seen anticipation of the biggest battle between EA’s title and the competing NBA 2K franchise in many, many years. NBA 2K11 features His Airness, Michael Jordan in a feature dedicated to celebrating the great moments in his career. In response, NBA Live was overhauled from top to bottom, with the franchise being renamed NBA Elite, as a show of EA’s commitment to improving upon recent failures in their pro basketball title.

Now that competition will be stifled by the delayed release of NBA Elite, giving 2K Sports the upper hand in a battle they already appeared to be favourites in.

One ace in the hole that EA appeared to hold was the inclusion of the new reboot of NBA Jam with their PS3 and XBox 360 NBA Elite product. Rather than forcing gamers to go out and buy a Nintendo Wii in order to play NBA Jam, Moore announced via his blog that the PS3/360 version will be available to buy separately:

NBA JAM will launch on the Wii, as scheduled, on October 5. NBA JAM won recognition this summer as the best sports game at E3 and it’s a blast to play. In addition to the Wii version, we’re going to ship NBA JAM as a standalone product on the Xbox360 and PS3 in time for the holidays. Watch for more news soon on the exact timing of that release.

The delayed release is no doubt a win for consumers. EA have been lambusted in the past for releasing inferior products in the past, in apparent money-grabbing exercises to avoid losing money spent on production. Learning from those past failures which devalued the franchise’s goodwill, Moore made a good call in delaying the release date until such time as the product is ready and polished. Sure, this gives the spotlight solely to NBA 2K11, but the Michael Jordan inclusion already placed the ball deep in their frontcourt. EA still has the much-anticipated release of NBA Jam to keep them rolling and will be unabated in their later release of NBA Elite to grab some mid-season market share.

Of course, there is still the possibility that they will defer the launch of NBA Elite altogether until the Elite 12 title, but this seems unlikely.

In the meantime, EA will keep fans placated with the following:

For NBA LIVE 10 players, we will continue to offer free content and services throughout the 2010-11 season. We will start with a new roster update so you get all the players for the new season, free of charge. We will also provide free Dynamic DNA updates, daily, for the entire season. That’s a full season of basketball with new rosters and updates, free.

This is by no means a bad compromise and may eek out some extra sales of NBA Live 10. I also noted last night that EA had dramatically reduced the price of NBA Live 10 for the iphone — certainly worth a purchase as it is as good a basketball game as you will find on a mobile phone by a long shot.

So, we wait for the ultimate comparison between NBA 2K11 and NBA Elite 11. Whilst you wait, you can always join the debate on the two titles in the comments section here: NBA 2K11 vs NBA Elite 11.