It’s been a long time coming, but it seems that the NCAA will not be renewing its contract with video game giant, EA Sports. As fans of the game franchise may know, a number of former college football players filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports, alleging a conspiracy between the two companies to coerce players into signing away their rights and royalties—a lawsuit that’s still ongoing, it seems.
So now that NCAA Football 14 is out on the shelves, that’s the last game to feature the college-sports association’s official license. Here’s the statement the organization published today, announcing that it’s severing ties with EA:
“The NCAA has made the decision not to enter a new contract for the license of its name and logo for the EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The current contract expires in June 2014, but our timing is based on the need to provide EA notice for future planning. As a result, the NCAA Football 2014 video game will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo. We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.
The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes. Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game. They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.”
So that’s all she wrote. This is a big problem for EA…but not that big a problem, I imagine. EA Sports still corners the market on football video games, having negotiated and retained the exclusive NFL license for years now. Losing the NCAA means less money coming in, sure, but it also means less money going out, too. It’s not like the NCAA is going to sign a contract with a different company (at least, I don’t think they will). I’d be surprised if that happened, since it seems that the problems associated with litigation are one of the primary factors the organization’s decided to move on without EA.
That’s why I don’t think this is a huge problem for EA Sports. Video game fans hungry for football games won’t be without one: they’ll still have the Madden series that comes out every year like clockwork. And with no other college football games to take those customers, it’s unlikely that there’ll be any challengers to the company’s video game football throne.
My hope, though, is that EA will look to fill the void left by the NCAA with a new Mutant League Football game. I would buy three of those.