EA have announced that EA Sports College Football is in development, seeing them return to the field of collegiate sports after several years away to create a counterpart to their main Madden NFL series.
— EA SPORTS (@EASPORTS) February 2, 2021
EA’s first college football game came out all the way back in 1993 with Bill Walsh College Football, before evolving into NCAA Football in 1997. The series ran all the way up to 2013 with NCAA Football 14, but was brought to an end after the NCAA and other college football conferences decided not to renew their exclusive contracts with EA Sports.
This was partly down to image rights and a legal dispute over whether players should be able to take a share of the profits that the NCAA was able to generate from their likeness. It’s an issue that remains in collegiate sport, though there has been some motion on the matter. Florida, California, Colorado, Nebraska and New Jersey all legislating on the matter and the NCAA has also voted unanimously to loosen the restriction.
That’s all great, but what does it mean for players and EA’s new College Football game? Well… not a lot. In fact, the game will not include any student-athlete names, images or likenesses, and the only elements that EA will be able to include for authenticity are the logos, stadiums, uniforms, gameday traditions and other colour elements that they can license through the Collegiate Licensing Company.
There’s still plenty of time for that to change, though. EA have only just announced this partnership and, while they are able to build on the foundations of Madden NFL in terms of game engines and gameplay, it will still take some time for a game to be released. If the opportunity arises for them to secure a significant number of players’ likenesses en masse, they could incorporate them into the game. Indeed, with regard to image rights, EA say they are “continuing to watch those developments closely.”