October 1, 2013
EA Sports: It’s Not In The College Football Game
EA Sports has long had the tagline “It’s in the game.” Next year, however, Electronic Arts and EA Sports won’t technically be in the game when it comes to college football. This week the entertainment software giant announced that it has dropped the long running NCAA Football franchise after this year, so NCAA Football 14 will be the final one, college football fans.
The company announced on Thursday that it was “evaluating (its) plan for the future of the franchise.”
So, what happened? Licenses is what happened, and that meant lawsuits soon followed.
This comes a year after lawsuits and lawyers representing former and current football – and for the record basketball – players reached a settlement agreement with EA in three presumptive federal class-action lawsuits. The settlement also reportedly covered claims against the nation’s leading collegiate trademark licensing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co.
Basically, the thousands of college athletes, including those on current roasters, whose names and avatars have been in the game since the early 2000’s, have wanted a piece of the pie. Many current and former athletes have argued that the games have generated significant profits for the company without providing compensation for the players whose names and likenesses are used.
It isn’t just the players who see the August release date of the game as a pay day. Some schools even received upwards of $75,000 per year for appearing in the game!
The fact that the franchise will end isn’t entirely a surprise. The NCAA announced in July that it wouldn’t renew its EA contract after next year, even as 150 colleges, conferences and bowl games had approved a three-year contract extension with EA Sports. At the time it probably meant EA could have continued to produce the game and called it “College Football” instead of “NCAA Football.”
Once the Collegiate Licensing Company got involved, it was probably a sign that it was game over and that EA Sports wasn’t truly in the game.
Thus, next year will be the first since 1997 that there hasn’t been a college football game from EA.
EA currently sells about two million copies of NCAA College Football annually (source: stock analyst Michael Pachter), while FIFA Soccer and Madden NFL sell around 12 million and 5.5 million units respectively. In other words, there are too many people with their hands out looking for piece of the pie with college football. But this could be a bad sign for the NFL version, as well.
As more and more people want to be get paid when included in the game it means there is less money for the game developers. Thus EA has pulled the plug on what has been an annual release, but apparently not a cash cow.
“This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year,” Cam Weber, the general manager of American football for EA Sports, wrote in statement posted on the company’s website. “EA SPORTS, college football has always been a labor of love, and it is unfortunate that these business and legal issues have impacted our ability to make next year’s game. This franchise has been developed by a team that is deeply committed to the tradition and culture of this sport – that’s why fans have always loved it. We are working to retain the talented people who are part of the team by placing them elsewhere within the EA SPORTS organization.”
The biggest losers might, of course, be the fans who now will have to just settle for this year’s game for many years to come.
Image Credit EA Sports