EA Sports announced the return of the popular college football franchise Tuesday morning and set the Internet ablaze.
College football fans have been clamoring for the franchise to make its return for years as it missed an entire console generation for legal reasons.
The NCAA Football video game franchise hasn't had a release since 2013 when NCAA Football 14 came out on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. A used copy of that game routinely sells for more than $50.
But don't get too excited. With the announcement, many assumed the next installment, now under the name EA Sports College Football, would release this summer in time for the 2021 college football season. That is not the case.
In a followup tweet, EA Sports said it looks forward to sharing more developments over "the next couple of years."
It appears the title won't hit store shelves until at least 2022 at the absolute earliest.
Despite recent NCAA rule changes where the organization altered their policy on student-athletes receiving endorsements as soon as the 2021-22 academic school year, the rules do not allow for the return of the video game franchise in its initial state.
"While student-athletes would be permitted to identify themselves by sport and school, the use of conference and school logos, trademarks or other involvement would not be allowed," said the NCAA."The board emphasized that at no point should a university or college pay student-athletes for name, image and likeness activities."
Due to the NCAA not allowing the use of conference and school logos or trademarks to be associated with the student-athletes, EA Sports will still not be allowed to produce a new installment in the popular sports franchise with any current players' likeness. In past installments, they didn't use their names but rather their numbers, but even that was ruled in court as using their likeness without permission due to how similar the models were to their real-life counterparts.
In the famous Ed O'Bannon vs the NCAA legal case, the former UCLA basketball player argued, and the courts agreed, that the NCAA not paying athletes for use of their likeness was a violation of antitrust law. A court filing revealed that EA was willing to pay the players for their likeness to continue producing the video games, but the NCAA refused.
Given the legal precedent and the lack of cooperation from the NCAA, the popular franchise was dead.
With that in mind, it seems likely EA Sports is just paying the conferences to use the schools' brandings and will have auto-generated rosters with the ability for customization. That way, a fan can create the real-life players themselves and make it a downloadable roster for everyone else to enjoy.
EA Sports already does this inside Madden when importing draft classes in franchise mode.