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The Rarest PS3 Game Probably Isn't What You Expect

The concept of lost or rare media has long inspired fascination. With so many tools and technological methods available today, it's often hard to believe that something isn't available with just a few clicks of a mouse. While most pieces of such media exist in the form of shows, live broadcasts, or other footage, the gaming industry also has its fair share of mysteries. Some are even surprisingly recent.

Rare games often earn their status with time. As years pass and new consoles bring fresh experiences, developers stop producing copies of older releases. For titles regarded as classics, their prices can far exceed retail figures due to limited availability. For others, like the copy of "Super Mario Bros." that sold for $114,000," the condition of the packaging plays a role. Even rarer, however, are the instances in which games were never meant to see the light of day, yet a handful of copies are out there somewhere. The PlayStation 3 has at least one example of this, and the game in question come as a surprise.

Across most lists of rare PS3 titles, there are some usual suspects. Games like "Painkiller: Hell & Damnation Uncut" and "Afrika" have become notorious because their North American copies are either less common or, in the case of "Painkiller," limited due to censorship issues (via DSO Gaming). Both titles typically resell for several hundred dollars, but they pale in comparison to "NBA Elite 11." Regarded by many as the rarest PS3 game in existence, it's been purchased for thousands of dollars.

Why NBA Elite 11 is so rare

"NBA Elite 11" was set to kick off a new era in basketball simulation for publisher Electronic Arts following 2009's "NBA Live 10." At that point, however, a changing of the guard occurred in the sports game landscape. Take-Two Interactive's "NBA 2K" series became more popular each year, and EA's legendary series was little more than an afterthought. Expectations for one of EA's flagship titles were at an all-time high, as the company finally had a legitimate competitor after it destroyed the "NFL 2K" series.

Reception for the game's demo was so negative that EA delayed "NBA Elite 11" just a week ahead of its October 5 release date. A little over a month later, the company announced the game was canceled. Despite this cancellation, some copies of the game escaped and made their way into the hands of players. The number of copies seems to be low, making the game extremely valuable. According to PriceCharting, the game has gone for as much as $17,5000. In July 2017, it was reported that five copies of the game were listed as a bundle on eBay for $30,000. The eBay listing has since been removed.

Due to there being very few copies out there, eBay listings for "NBA Elite 11" are arguably just as rare. A mobile port of the game was released, and the reception was generally positive. Still, the console version of the game has been a treasured relic for nearly a decade.