EA Sports has delayed the long-anticipated return of its popular NCAA Football, the video-game maker confirmed this week in an interview with ESPN. EA Sports vice president and general manager Daryl Holt told ESPN that improving the game after a near-decade long hiatus is a major undertaking considering how much college football has changed since its last release in 2014.
“That’s the best date for us to bring the game that we think is going to meet or exceed our player expectations,” Holt said. “And cover the breadth and scale of what we want in the game. We’re trying to build a very immersive college football experience.”
According to ESPN, college players will be compensated this time around if they are in the game.
The report first surfaced from Matt Brown at Extra Points and quickly spread through social media. Tentatively titled EA College Football, the game’s revival has sparked a massive response from fans of the franchise, which has been defunct for nearly 10 years after issues arose over name, image and likeness.
The game originally aimed for a July 2023 release and sparked interest from not only fans, but also many current NCAA football players. An informal poll of more than two dozen players at schools within the Power Five conferences conducted by 247Sports over the summer revealed an overwhelming desire to be included in the game. Money was an issue only for one player polled.
“I played NCAA all the way until it stopped, so for me I just wanna be in the game,” Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei said. “I mean, I don’t even care if I’m gonna get paid to be in the game. I just want to be in the game.”
247Sports’ quiz of players was not exactly a scientific poll, but the overwhelming urge for football players who grew up playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football games as children to be included in the game is something the developer is betting on as it prepares to partner with an agency to secure a group license.
Players waxed on about camping outside stores with family members to secure a copy of EA Sports NCAA Football in the 2010s, and creating versions of themselves in the game. Several still play the last iteration of the game, NCAA Football 14, on the Playstation 3 and XBox 360.
“We would stay up all night playing the game and I did that for years. That’s a part of my childhood, so when the game was discontinued, that hurt, man. I love the game,” LSU linebacker Mike Jones Jr. said.
Unlike the NFL or MLB, college athletics does not have a players association capable of packaging rights for third parties such as video game developers and trading card companies — but that may soon change. Several companies entered the group licensing arena before NIL laws for college athletes were instituted across the country in 2021. In a way, they were preparing for the inevitable return of the popular video game. CLC has built a large database of college and professional athletes on its marketplace platform, Compass.
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The company helps match players with individual and group NIL deals, and also provides NIL education and data. In October 2021, CLC partnered with a company specializing in group licenses to strengthen its position in the NIL market as it aims to become EA Sports’ primary provider of group rights.
Chris Dukes and Brandon Marcello contributed to this report.