It's been over six years since the last NCAA Football game from Electronic Arts was released. With recent legislation allowing college players to profit off of any products sold with their likeness, many have been wondering if there would be a come back, and in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said he was game for more NCAA Football.
Electronic Arts originally paired with Visual Concepts to create the soon to be football franchise. They were later purchased by Take-Two Interactive and joined under the 2K banner alongside NBA 2K games. In 1993 the games were originally on the Sega Genisis, Sega CD, and Super Nintendo under the title Bill Walsh College Football.
Over the next two decades, the game transformed into the NCAA Football series releasing up until the final game on Playstation3 and the XBOX 360. EA Sports had been the king of athletic games as they had the exclusive publishing rights in 2004 for the NCAA and the NFL. These rights brought for the highly grossing Madden NFL and the NCAA Football games.
In 2013 EA Sports had been planning to release a new game with cooperation from the NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association: the governing body that monitors and polices all college sports activities. This game was set to be entitled NCAA Football 15.
At the time, EA Sports also had a deal with the CLC, Collegiate Licensing Company, which allowed them to use college mascots, team names, and most of what went into the NCAA games. They were even planning on calling the game College Football 15.
However, since the college players were not benefitting in any way from their likeness, the NCAA stopped all business with EA Sports. In a lengthy lawsuit, the NCAA settled with EA Sports for $27 million where EA lost its exclusive rights to the NCAA and the franchise was said to be dead.
Recent litigation may change the tide on the NCAA franchise. On Tuesday, October 29th, 2019, the heads of the NCAA voted unanimously to change the rules allowing college players to benefit from using their likeness. However, the NCAA stipulated that it must be "in a manner consistent with the collegiate model."
Head of the NCAA board Michael Drake stated to ESPN that embracing change is its best option, but its need to do so in a way that benefits higher education and the progress of the student in a collegiate atmosphere.
"Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education." - Michael Drake
This comes almost a month after California's governor Gavin Newsome signed the Fair Pay to Play Act. This decision came after Democratic state senator Nancy Skinner wrote the bill allowing college students their fair share of the profits, which is not the first time a US senator became involved in video game politics. The bill details that students can not be punished by their colleges for accepting endorsement money starting in January 2023. A slew of supporters called and wrote to the governor asking them to reconsider paying the college students for the jerseys, games, and other marketing materials.
BREAKING: NCAA will permit athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses, Board of Governors says. https://t.co/4rLzgF127e— The Associated Press (@AP) October 29, 2019
On September 30th, 2019, Governor Newsom signed the act kick-starting the NCAA to reconsider their position. Last Tuesday the NCAA board met and decided though they would not be following the complete "California model," but that they would have a dedicated group to review endorsement deals. Shortly after the announcement, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson stated that he would love to make more NCAA Football games.
The return of the NCAA Football games could also lead the way to even more games. There hasn't been an NCAA Basketball game since NCAA Basketball 10 released in 2009. This was five years short of the last football game. With the new Playstation 5 coming out next holiday season and the newest Xbox Project Scarlett also releasing around the same time, it's exciting to think of how detailed the games could be.
The difference in graphics from 1995 to 2013 were astonishing. Also considering the file size of games like the new Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are absolutely massive and can take hours to download all of the content. The new NCAA Football games could be twice as large considering all of the players' stats and potential, and it'll be interesting to see how they evolve.
In previous games, NCAA Football had details so minute that if a player was not going to class gamers could either bench the teammate or allow them to play, potentially incurring NCAA infractions. In the 2006 NCAA Football 06 career mode, a photo of the character's girlfriend would become increasingly more attractive if they played well. This was the first time a sports game introduced a role-playing element in a game. The opportunities are boundless, but for now, football fans will have NCAA Football 14 to enjoy on their older systems.