News: RIP NCAA Football Video Game Series

ncaa football 14 cover

Bad news coming today for fans (like me) of EA Sports’ NCAA Football series. The NCAA won’t renew their contract with EA Sports, essentially killing any future versions of the game.

Here’s the press release from NCAA:

“The NCAA has made the decision not to enter a new contract for the license of its name and logo for the EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The current contract expires in June 2014, but our timing is based on the need to provide EA notice for future planning. As a result, the NCAA Football 2014 video game will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo. We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.

The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes. Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game. They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.”

Apparently, this decision came about because of a lawsuit against the NCAA. I somehow hadn’t heard about it, but it has to do with former athletes upset about their likenesses being used in the game, without compensation. That’s only a portion of the lawsuit, which “demands that the NCAA find a way to cut players in on the billions of dollars earned by college sports from live broadcasts, memorabilia sales, video games and in other areas.”

Here is the story from ESPN:

I’m personally very sad to see this news. NCAA Football has always been my favorite sports game and I’ve been playing it for years. Will EA Sports be able to continue making the game without the NCAA? Can they just make deals with all of the schools and call it “College Football 15”? Or maybe they can go the way of Madden and call it “Uncle Verne 15”? Personally, my vote is for Uncle Verne 15. Just be sure to include the signature Verne Chortles! Make it happen CBS!

However, I’ve got to say that I’m not very hopeful after hearing about the lawsuit. It sounds as if EA Sports would have to pay the schools and student athletes. I can’t imagine that good sales could outweigh the cost of that added into the cost of making the game. My guess is that NCAA Football 14 is the end. Hopefully, I’m wrong. And hopefully, we’ll hear from EA Sports soon. Maybe they’ll have good news? I’ll update the story if they respond!

Update 1 (2:37): ESPN’s Brett McMurphy tweeted this:

“EA Sports will still have college football video game beyond 2014, just won’t be affiliated w/NCAA”

That’s good news! I’m still hesitant to get my hopes up, but things are looking up! More as it comes!

Update 2 (4:52) Game Informer has some good news from EA Sports:

“By now, most fans will have heard that EA’s licensing agreement with the NCAA is set to expire and that we have agreed to part ways. I’m sure gamers are wondering what this means.

This is simple: EA SPORTS will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks. Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Company is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature the college teams, leagues and all the innovation fans expect from EA SPORTS.

We took big creative strides with this year’s college game and you’ll see much more in the future. We love college football and look forward to making more games for our fans.”

Well, there you have it! Crisis averted! What’s in a name, really? I bet it’ll be something simple like College Football 15, but my vote stays with Uncle Verne 15.

What do you guys think about all of this? Did you or do you play NCAA Football? What do you think the new series should be called?

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