Earlier this year, we learned that EA Sports and the NCAA would not renew their long-standing relationship, thereby putting an end to the NCAA Football game franchise. However, shortly after the announcement was made, EA Sports confirmed they would continue to release college football games, albeit under a different name.
Since then, a lengthy dispute over the use of college athletes’ names and likeness has brewed, forcing EA Sports to re-evaluate that position. And after settling out of court, EA Sports has announced they will not develop a college football game for 2014.
The particulars of the settlement are still being kept under wraps, but reports suggest EA will end up paying tens of millions to a large number of college athletes, many of whose likenesses were brandished all over EA Sports’ games. The NCAA, on the other hand, is continuing to fight the lawsuits.
This loss, combined with falling out with the NCAA, likely prompted EA Sports to re-evaluate their feelings about college football games going forward. There are obviously NCAA/college football fans out there, but EA Sports didn’t think the reward was worth throwing themselves right back into the water.
That isn’t to say there won’t be a college football game from EA Sports, or even another developer/publisher like 2K Sports, in the future, just not for 2014. As a result, Madden is left as the one source of simulation football out there for next year.
Ultimately, this debate over college players’ rights and whether or not they should be paid will likely need to be worked out before EA Sports makes a decision regarding college football in games. Recent developments in college sports have forced the NCAA to take a closer look at their position on player profit, and there are some people who think things will change. If so, that might make EA Sports less apprehensive about putting high profile collegiate athletes on their covers, in their promotional materials, and in their games.
For now, college football fans are left with NCAA Football 13, presumably the last college football game of the current-gen if not forever. We’d be surprised if someone doesn’t step up and make a play at an NCAA license, but only time will tell.
Do you think college football games will return? Will it be with EA Sports or a different publisher like 2K Sports?