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EA Sports NCAA Football returns as EA Sports College Football
EA SPORTS NCAA FOOTBALL 2022, AT LAST!
You read that right, what we football and console game fans were waiting for seems to be here. The EA SPORTS NCAA FOOTBALL finally returns for the 2022 edition.
The prestigious sports games brand EA Sports is restarting its college football series for next-generation consoles, announcing last Tuesday that it will end the break that the NCAA FOOTBALL game has suffered since then-Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson appeared on the cover of NCAA Football 14.
There’s still a lot to be worked out about the look of the game, its structure, and even when it will be available. But college football will finally return (finally) to video game consoles.
Here’s what we know and what we don’t.
Why is EA Sports now coming back with the game?
Since the last edition of the game in the 2013 season, there has been talking within EA Sports of relaunching it. At the time of its discontinuation, it was a very popular title, even some gamers preferred it to Madden for its large number of teams, in addition to the different and more varied options offered by the game. Since the disappearance of the game, his return remained one of the company’s priorities.
In fact, EA Sports has dropped some Easter eggs that point to that possibility. In the last two editions of Madden, some college football programs were included as part of the game’s “Face of the Franchise” story mode. EA Sports vice president and CEO Daryl Holt told ESPN that while it wasn’t a conscious decision to do that as a test for the return of a college football game, there were positive reactions, especially in those college markets.
“We know the fans are looking forward to it and we know we can develop and deliver a great college football experience,” Holt said. “Then why are we waiting?
EA Sports recently began assembling a strategy and development team, which led to Tuesday’s announcement.
When will it be possible to play?
At the moment, no one from EA Sports wanted to commit to saying when the game might return or even a date to announce a release date. For now, consider this news as a commitment to get the game back at some point. One thing is for sure, though: Holt said it won’t happen this year, so we’re looking forward to 2022 being the year EA SPORTS NCAA FOOTBALL returns.
What will the game include?
That’s still unclear. It’s very early in the process.
EA Sports is working with Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the licensing partner of many schools, to ensure the use of the stadiums, uniforms, mascots, traditions and names of more than 100 NCAA FBS teams. Holt said the game itself will be “a deep, immersive experience that will have a true open game for college football.” The look of this game is yet to be determined and could depend on the technology of the Next Gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X gaming systems.
It could have an eventual link to Madden: in previous versions, for example, you could import NCAA Football draft classes into Madden. Holt said EA Sports is studying things in terms of what’s part of a football career, but the company is still in experimentation mode.
Holt said EA Sports is getting started with the game, making sure it’s strong “Whether it’s a re-imagination or an evolution of the things that were in the game and new ways of playing, I don’t want to go into the details of what we’re already planning and what we’re going to put into that,” Holt said. “But it will be something that our core fans will love this game because it’s just the starting point of something big.”
Does the NCAA need to change its rules so that the game can come back?
No. Current NCAA rules prohibit EA Sports from paying players to use their names, images and likeness in the game. If those rules remain in place when the game launches, EA Sports plans to include real details like team names, mascots and uniforms, but nothing that resembles the actual players on those lists.
EA Sports announced it would stop making its college football game in 2013, shortly before the company agreed to pay off part of the $40 million reportedly paid to former college players to settle a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. The lawsuit argued that it was illegal for EA Sports to sell a game with characters that looked a lot like real athletes without paying those athletes. Although O’Bannon has sometimes been wrongly blamed for the game’s demise, the company said at the time that it halted production because the NCAA and some conferences were no longer interested in licensing their logos and names to the game’s creators, preventing them from creating an authentic experience.
Those schools are again willing to partner with EA Sports. Holt did not comment on why those partnerships have been reactivated but insisted there is nothing currently stopping EA Sports from producing the game.
How will the current debate on name, image and likeness (NIL) rules affect the game?
While real players don’t have to be included in the new version of the game, they could be if future legislation makes it possible for college athletes to negotiate in groups. The NCAA, driven by pressure from state and federal lawmakers, is changing its rules to offer athletes some opportunities to profit from sponsorships in the future. It’s not yet clear whether those new opportunities will include the ability to organize for group licensing deals.
In the case of professional sports video games, the manufacturer of the game usually negotiates with the league union a price for the NIL rights of all players. The union then ensures that each player receives a share of the total payout. The NCAA says players shouldn’t be able to form a union because they’re students, not employees. Although a traditional union is not essential to establishing the organization needed for collective bargaining, NCAA leaders have so far tried to stay out of any kind of agreement that creates a mechanism for athletes to bargain as a group.
But the NCAA may fall short of setting the terms of future NIL rules. Congress is expected to address college sports reform and compensation in some way in the relatively near future, most likely before EA Sports is ready to release its new game. At least two of the proposals that the Senate will study aim to guarantee the right to collective bargaining of future university athletes. If any of those options become law, it would open the door for EA Sports to negotiate with players to create more realistic lists.
“We’ll be aware of everything as it develops, and we’ll be prepared,” Holt said.
What will the game hitherto known as NCAA FOOTBALL EA SPORTS be called?
The name is changing. The name of the NCAA Football series is over. Instead, the game will be called EA Sports College Football. According to Holt, that’s the brand the company is working with and plans to use.
“It all really starts with the direction we put college football on,” Holt said. “There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot of things going on in sports. EA Sports College Football gives us a name and a brand to work around some things that could evolve, as well as what we’re really focusing on from the beginning, which is really the FBS Division I school and the path to the College Football Playoff and the College Football Championship.”
“So we think EA Sports College Football is the right name for the product, not only now, but also in the future.”