After disappearing for the better part of a decade, EA has announced that it’s returning to the world of collegiate sports with a new EA Sports college football franchise that will likely debut on the Xbox Series X and PS5, though they didn't indicate when it would be released.
The last of these games – NCAA Football 2014 – was released on Xbox 360 and PS3, which arrived just before a lawsuit was filed against EA, NCAA and Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) by a collegiate athlete that prevented the franchise from going forward.
EA says that it has partnered again with the CLC to work on the next generation of college sports games, but says that the new games won’t feature “the names, images or likenesses of existing college players” but will have the names of a large number of college football programs – essentially working around the NCAA and its players by using a broader premise.
“Through the CLC partnership, the franchise will include the rights to more than 100 institutions featuring the logos, stadiums, uniforms, gameday traditions and more that fans have come to know and love,” EA said in a statement. “While this college game will not include student-athlete names, images and likenesses, EA Sports is continuing to watch those developments closely.”
What’s a name worth anyway?
According to a settlement between EA, the CLC and the college athlete who sued them, around $40 million. Which is why EA has decided not to use the names of players and why the game likely won't be called NCAA Football 22.
According to The Washington Post (opens in new tab), who spoke to EA Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager Cam Weber, EA doesn’t currently hold the license to use the NCAA name and says that they’ll be using randomly generated names, numbers and attributes for the game instead of regular player names.
When we will actually get the next collegiate football game is up for debate as well – according to EA, the development of EA Sports College Football is just underway, “with launch timing still to come as the project progresses in the years ahead.”
Long story short? Getting NCAA-licensed players names is going to take a Hail Mary, unfortunately, but college football fans will be back on the digital grid iron at some point in the near future after nearly a decade sitting on the bench.