After FOX Sports released a documentary on Christmas Day chronicling the life and career of the legendary John Madden, sports video games are certainly back in the public consciousness as 2021 comes to an end. With that in mind, EA Sports has been wetting the appetite of sports fans everywhere, with its piecemeal updates surrounding the reboot of an NCAA football video game.
EA used to have a popular college football video game, but it was halted after the release of the 2014 edition. As it stands right now, the game is slated to make its return right before the start of the 2023 college football season.
Of course, the 2023 iteration of the video game could look very different due to 2021 rule changes with regards to name, image and likeness.
“We are watching the recent developments regarding student-athlete name, image and likeness very closely. It’s still in very early stages at this point, and we plan to explore the possibility of including players in EA SPORTS College Football,” the organization said in a statement. Via Sportingnews.com
Of course, in prior versions of the game, players were created based on the actual appearance, numbers and builds of the real athletes, but only could be identified by their jersey number. For example, if you were playing with the Auburn University in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, and you ran the offense with a quarterback who had jersey number “1”, it was understood that you were playing with Cam Newton. However, the game wasn’t allowed to display the player’s last name, so it was meant to have the feel of a more generic “number 1 for Auburn.”
One of the reasons why the game was discontinued in 2014 was due to a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball coach Ed O’Bannon, as well as 19 student-athletes against the NCAA. A court ruled that EA Sports used the players’ likeness without permission, and the company was forced to pay $60 million to athletes who were “in the game” from 2003-2014.
At the end of the day, it would behoove the NCAA and EA Sports to figure out a way to have the video game back in the lives of gamers and fans everywhere. The video game gives players additional exposure to NCAA football, and brings a contingent of people who may not otherwise follow the real games on Saturdays a reason to care.