Fans old enough to remember the NCAA Football video game series from EA Sports will have to wait at least one year longer to see its revival.
Late last month, EA Sports announced in multiple interviews that the long-anticipated re-entry of the college football-based game will be postponed until at least mid-2024. The announcement also listed the features fans can expect when the game is released, including multiple being carried over into the upcoming edition.
Why was the EA Sports franchise discontinued in the first place? What caused the delay? And what can fans expect when the game is finally available? Those questions and many more are answered in this article.
Why It Was Discontinued
EA Sports released the newest version of the game in 2013 – titled NCAA Football 2014 – before the beginning of a monumental change to the collegiate model.
In 2014, Ed O’Bannon first took his class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports to court after the basketball version of the video game series used his image and likeness for an all-time team without O’Bannon’s permission. The case was litigated for over two years before O’Bannon and numerous former athletes secured their victory.
Prior to the original court case, the NCAA severed its relationship with Electronic Arts, the parent group for EA Sports. Electronic Arts offered a $40 million settlement to resolve the issue with former student athletes and discontinued the video game series for both football and basketball.
Since that landmark decision, current and former student athletes also went to court to secure compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness – known as NIL, for short – to receive non-educational benefits.
The NCAA left NIL rules up to individual schools, conferences and state laws for each member institution in June 2021. This policy paved the way for EA Sports to once again produce and market a college football video game.
Why Is EA Sports Delaying the Release
Originally, EA Sports suggested by 2023 the collegiate football video game series would be available for video game consoles. However, the work required to restart the series from scratch led the company to delay its return until mid-2024.
Further, not all schools have signed on to participate in the new video game series. While EA Sports has secured the rights to all 10 of the current FBS conferences, some schools have not agreed to participate. The additional time will allow the company to secure all FBS schools and potentially many – or all – of the FCS schools.
Also adding to the later release date is the ever-changing landscape within college athletics itself. Rules allowing students to transfer college via the portal as well as profit off NIL rules have created new experiences video game users will want to take advantage of in the college football series.
What Features Should Be Included
The primary objective for the renewed video game is to create an immersive experience for the user, according to the company representative giving the interview. Including the organic environmental sounds from each college campus – such as bands playing fight songs – is part of what made the EA Sports college football series such a fan-favorite.
Users can also expect to see the return of dynasty mode, or the option for players to control a single school for multiple seasons, along with the ability to recruit high school students or transfer portal players. The road to glory is also expected to return, an all-encompassing experience for a single player to make inroads at the desired school.
Compatibility with other EA Sports offerings – specifically the Madden NFL series – has not yet been disclosed. Previous games in the series allowed users to import rosters and draft classes from the NCAA college football game directly into the NFL version.
While fans will have to wait a little longer than expected to play EA Sports’ college football video game, fans of the collegiate sport can currently bet on college football legally thanks to the lifting of PASPA in 2018, giving states the right to decide whether to legalize sports betting or not.