Rejoice, college football fans. Today is your Christmas.
On Tuesday, EA Sports announced the return of the NCAA Football video game series under the name of EA Sports College Football. It will be the 22nd college football game EA Sports will release.
EA Sports last released a college football game last, NCAA Football 14, in July, 2013. It was discontinued when the NCAA announced that it would not renew its contract with EA Sports due to legal disputes over player likeness.
Since then, NCAA Football 14 has become a cult classic on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and currently is available at Gamestop for $69.99 — more money than its original price in 2013.
The legal issues emerged from instances when Texas A&M had a 97 overall quarterback with all the characteristics and attributes of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, though he was simply named “QB No. 2” in the video game.
In 2009, Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company for the likeness and characteristics of college players in both NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball. The case was settled in June 2014 as 24,932 checks were issued to former players in the coming years, according to an article by CBS Sports at the time.
As a result, NCAA Football last released a title in July 2013 and NCAA Basketball last released a title in November 2009. The cover athletes for those games were former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin.
Recently though, NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) rights have begun to swing in the other direction and it’s anticipated that the NCAA or state and federal governments will soon change and allow player likenesses of real college football players according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.
With that in mind, EA Sports is getting a jump on development of anticipated changes in NIL rights — though for now, the company is moving forward with collegiate licensing company CLC to add in the history, uniforms, playbooks, stadiums and other various things to get the game developed. EA Sports Vice President and General Manager Daryl Holt said there will be over 100 teams in the game.
It’s unclear what will change when the NIL rights are changed, and how that could affect development of the game.
Time for the sobering news: A release date is unclear, though 2021 is certainly out of the question. Estimates place a release date in either July 2022 or 2023, meaning fans will have to wait a bit longer.
But the nightmare for college football fans is ending. There were 2,765 days from NCAA Football 14’s release until the announcement of a new game, but now, a college football video game will be on next-generation consoles soon enough.