EA Sports is Reviving the College Football Video Game


Via @EASPORTS on Twitter

Gage Mills

   On Feb. 2, video game company Electronic Arts, more commonly known as EA, announced it will bring back the college football video game franchise.

   After seven and a half years since the release of the last installment of the series, many fans were ecstatic to see the EA Sports twitter account post an ambiguous tweet, stating only that “College Football is coming back.” While not much other detail was stated, the idea of the video game franchise returning was enough to send gamers into a frenzy, as the tweet racked up over 200,000 likes and word of the return quickly spread over social media.

   Only a couple months after the release of the last installment, NCAA Football 14, EA announced that the series would be discontinued amidst legal battles with former student-athletes, who charged both the NCAA and EA with using players’ likenesses without compensation. While the video games never used the players’ names directly, the virtual players shared the same numbers, appearances, and skill sets as real players without crediting them, or giving them monetary compensation. 

   The lawsuit, headed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, resulted in a victory for the student-athletes — this meant that the NCAA and EA had to cancel any video game series including college athletes, and that players whose likeness had appeared in the game would be compensated: the checks ranged from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, and totaled out to about a $40 million loss for EA and its partners. 

   While issues regarding the likeness of players in the upcoming game remains unclear, it is confirmed, according to ESPN writer Michael Rothstein, that EA Sports has come to an agreement with collegiate licensing company CLC to ensure that the new game will feature over 100 schools in the game. Along with the schools themselves, the game will feature team traditions, uniforms, and playbooks, similar to that of the previous installments in the franchise. 

   Other than that detail and the fact that the series will be rebranded (previously known as NCAA Football, but will soon be known as EA Sports College Football), not much else is known about the game. 

   The release date, cover athlete, various game-modes, graphics, and sounds are all up in the air as of now, and it’s not clear as of when it will all be solved. However, loyal fans of the franchise are still excited about the potential new release. 

   “I don’t think a visit where I go outside wearing a piece of EA Sports branded apparel, that someone doesn’t go, ‘Hey, when is college football coming back?’” EA sports Vice President and general manager Daryl Holt told ESPN. 

   In order for the new game to gain any traction in its development, NIL legislation (the bill that allows for NCAA athletes to profit off of their name and likeness) will need to be passed by congress, which needs to include group licensing — the same principle that allows for the sale of trading cards, licensed apparel, and video games at the professional level. If the legislation is not passed, it will be highly unlikely that the game will be released in the foreseeable future. With Democrats now holding the majority in both the House and the Senate, it is looking more and more likely that an expansive NIL bill will be passed, and that the household sports video game will make a return.