Last Updated on February 22, 2024
Anticipation continues to build regarding an expected release date for the return of EA Sports’ NCAA Football video game. Rumors have begun circulating, but are any of them true?
When is the EA Sports NCAA Football game returning?
EA Sports released its first teaser trailer for the upcoming game on Thursday and confirmed a summer release. A full reveal of the title is scheduled in May.
The teaser depicted a narrator creating a jersey that read “Yeah, it’s really happening” on the back. The teaser also included mockups of Penn St., Oklahoma, Florida, Notre Dame, and Alabama.
While fans were expecting to learn more in early January regarding the release of the game, the lack of public information is not uncommon in the realm of sports video game releases. Other developers of AAA sports titles such as Madden, NBA2K, and MLB The Show do not typically release specific details of the game or trailers six months away from release dates. The amount of information that fans already have, from pen records laws and school-based communication, is very uncommon.
There has also been voiced concerns from fans that the NCAA title could be a “Madden reskin”. The game is being developed with their Frostbite Engine, which is commonly used for other games such as NHL, PGA, and Madden. Fans have previously reported some gameplay mechanic concerns in Madden, and many have hopes that the same frustrations are not experienced in the new game.
Brown’s conversations with the developer’s communications team lead him to believe that the upcoming game is not going to be a reskin. Though the game engine is the same, developers in charge of the design can alter animations and physics tools, differentiating between NCAA and NFL gameplay.
Who is Included?
The latest updates regarding EA Sports College Football 25 are buzzing around proposed NIL contracts being sent on Feb. 22 to over 11,000 FBS football players for their participation in the game. The contract will be between the individual and EA Sports, not their respective institution. However, all FBS programs will be featured in the game.
The developers of College Football 25 have released their offer to Ohio State University and many other schools that will be featured.
An EA Sports spokesperson told Matt Brown of Extra Points that FCS schools could potentially be featured in the game at a later date, but that no FCS schools have signed any licensing contracts yet. Brown was told that EA plans to “include every FBS team at launch.”
EA’s contract offer will extend to eligible scholarship football players on all 134 FBS teams for the upcoming season. With over 6 million dollars committed to paying these players for their digital likeness, EA could be producing the largest NIL brand activation in history.
The Vice President of Business Development at EA Sports, Sean O’Brien, shared his excitement to ESPN.
“We feel very proud that we’ll be the largest program, likely the highest-spending program, and really an inclusive opportunity with an equitable distribution of funds across the board.”
While international students and students from the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies are prohibited from accepting NIL deals, EA is working towards finding a legally compliant way to compensate athletes who can be featured.
EA Sports has requested that athletes confirm their participation in the game before late April to ensure that developers have enough time to add all players to the game and to make sure the athletes get paid on time.
“There’s nothing been done on this scale that EA is doing, where every student-athlete that participates in the game is guaranteed revenue,” said Cory Moss, CEO of the Collegiate Licensing Company working alongside EA Sports.
Updates About the Contract
Brown has sources claiming the base contract will pay FBS players $600 for use of their NIL in the video game, along with a copy of the game with a value of around $70. In addition to opting into the contract, ambassador contracts will be offered to select players who will receive additional compensation for promoting the game on their social media platforms.
Some critics believe the $600 payment and a copy of the game do not fairly compensate those featured and have even called for athletes to boycott it. The contract was originally reported to be for $500. These critics argue that the deal does not compare to payments for professional athlete likeness and that FBS athletes were not involved in the negotiation process.
Sources at EA explained to Brown that their goal was to offer the most “expansive” and “inclusive” contract possible while keeping the terms as simple as possible.
Players will also have the option to terminate the use of their digital likeness in later versions of the game. EA claims they will release a new edition every year.
Why was the EA Sports NCAA Football game discontinued in 2013?
EA announced in 2013 that they would be discontinuing the game as a result of a lawsuit filed against the NCAA and the collegiate licensing company by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. Initially, the NCAA announced it wouldn’t renew its licensing contract with EA sports that year, and EA Sports planned to continue without the NCAA branding, but after three conferences pulled their licensing, EA Sports suspended production of the game.
Although the controversy over the game loomed large, the dollar amounts were not. Business of College Sports founder Kristi Dosh previously covered how much schools were making on the video game. Here are some examples from 2012-2013:
- Louisville: “NCAA Football”: $85,845; “NCAA Basketball”: $26,594
- UCLA: “NCAA Football”: $57,230; “NCAA Basketball”: $26,593
- Clemson: “NCAA Football”: $85,845; “NCAA Basketball”: 18,616
- Wisconsin: “NCAA Football”: $143,076; “NCAA Basketball”: $26,593
- Texas A&M: “NCAA Football”: $57,000; “NCAA Basketball”: $18,615.80
The ways in which the money flows will look differently this time around, as athletes will need to be paid for the use of their NIL.
How will names, images and likenesses be used in the new EA Sports NCAA Football game?
This time around, EA can use real player names, image, and likeness rather than “randomized” player likeness. To help with the licenses and usage of player’s personal brands, EA has partnered with the group licensing company, One Team Partners. Receiving licenses for players from over 130 FBS programs that each have 85 scholarship players, is proving to be a major task.
EA communications told Matt Brown, “…our team expects to create more human likeness at one time than has ever been attempted in video game history.” There is no doubt that EA is working hard to develop EA College Football into the most authentic and accurate experience possible.
An email obtained by Brown from an Open Records Request from an EA Sports Senior Manager to the licensing professionals at a Big 12 institution revealed that EA started asking for headshots of athletes who might opt into their game back in August 2023, in order to refine character features such as skin tone, eyes, and hair to most accurately depict an athlete’s image and likeness.
The email clarified that EA will only include a student-athletes likeness in the game if the student-athlete opts into a contract agreement with EA. If an athlete chooses not to opt into a contract agreement with EA, they will not feature them in the game to comply with NIL rules.
Sources from EA claim there currently is not a specific formal contract regarding player likeness terms for the game. With nearly 15% of rosters in the transfer portal, EA will most likely wait until after spring games are over and spring transfers are finalized before attempting to track down player contracts. This being said, EA has confirmed that College Football 25 will represent athletes from the upcoming 2024 season rosters, not the previous 2023 season.
Again, attempting to develop digital likeness for over 11,000 college football players is a massive task that will take some time. However, EA seems to be working fast and smart by utilizing official team photos that can help them most accurately digitalize player features, uniforms, and poses.
College Football 25 is still set to be released this summer, and from what little information is available, gamers can expect it to utilize the player’s name, image, and likeness more than has ever been attempted in video game history.
However, we don’t know yet which athletes will opt in given that they will reportedly only receive $500 each for their NIL, with no additional royalties and no opportunity to negotiate for additional cash.
What we know is that this is a massive project coming from one of the biggest video game studios in the world. Developing video games is very expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. It seems as though EA Sports developers are trying to avoid setting an expectation that would be unmet if any tweaks had to be made to the game.
Fans can rest assured that in just a matter of time, they will get to experience the comeback of a college football video game.