Move over Madden

EA announces the return of their college football video game series

~Felix Phommachanh, CNUTV Managing Editor~

In a tweet from the official Electronic Arts (EA) Sports account on Feb. 2, the company announced they are bringing back one of their most popular video game series from a near decade-long hiatus. It is the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Football series. The video game itself is the standard football game, but instead of the National Football League (NFL) teams found in their Madden Football franchise, it is collegiate teams spanning the entire nation. 

Now, for some brief context on the importance of this announcement. The NCAA Football series began in 1993 under the title “Bill Walsh College Football.” Then, in 1996, the series rebranded to “College Football USA 96” before ultimately becoming the franchise we know as NCAA Football in 1998. The franchise has spawned many iterations from 1998 up to 2014, and typically, a new installment was released every year. The most recent edition,
“NCAA Football 14,” released on July 9, 2013. Unbeknownst at the time, it would be the last game in the franchise. That is, until the aforementioned tweet proved otherwise. 

Still, the reason for the abrupt cancellation was  in July 2013, the NCAA decided not to renew their license contract with EA. Reportedly, the decision stemmed over legal issues regarding college players’ likeness in-game. The NCAA contract only covered the NCAA brand, with the College Licensing Company (CLC) handling the licensing used for stadiums, team names, uniforms, mascots, conferences etc. The CLC extended their contract with EA to 2017, but with doubts and three major conferences pulling out from their trademark license, EA decided to stop their production on the franchise all together. 

This could have been the end, but EA’s tweet in early Feb. breathed new life into the franchise. As of right now, the title of the new entry appears to be “EA Sports College Football.” It is unclear if a similar naming pattern of attaching the year to each edition will continue on. Regardless, by partnering with the CLC again for this new title, iconic college teams and stadiums across the USA will once again return to video game hardware. But now a question pops up for this revival. Will the NCAA need to change its ruling so college football players can get paid for the use of their likeness in-game? The answer to that is undetermined at the moment, as EA may possibly not include the players’ likeness, such as their facial features, skin tone or recognizable gear, in-game as to avoid any future legal issues. 

For some more context, the NCAA has said that EA cannot pay players to use their likeness, image or name. This has been scrutinized by both former players and lawmakers. It is not fair to the players, since for professional sports, the game studio negotiates with a union to discuss compensation for the players in return for their image. The NCAA says that college players should not unionize because they are students and not employees. A bit unfair to say the least. It remains to be seen whether stars at the University of Alabama or Clemson University will appear in the game, be paid for said inclusion or whether generic, faceless bodies will be used instead. 

Overall, EA bringing back a classic franchise is a good sight. Hopefully, they will be able to recapture the charm of the franchise with the modern upgrade of today’s consoles.

Official announcement tweet: 

Information retrieved from:

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