Five days before the big game of Professional Football ™ ️, fans received good news from the colleges: EA Sports is returning to college football! The developer of the beloved, late NCAA football series announced a new partnership with the college licensing authority bringing their bowl games, mascots, and rivalries back to consoles for the first time in eight years.
Since such things are licensing and most of the licensors in question are image-conscious colleges in America, sports fans are likely to be thinking, “So what’s the catch?” The biggest problem is that the game is still very early in development – it won’t be released this year, an EA Sports manager told ESPN.
Later on Friday, College Football’s re-minted Twitter account mentioned that the game was being developed “over the next few years.”
We are overwhelmed with your passion for #EASPORTSCollegeFootball. We look forward to sharing more information as it evolves over the next few years.
– EASPORTSCollege (@EASPORTSCollege) February 2, 2021
Whenever it gets here, it’s still an ice age since the last NCAA football video game back in 2013 – it finally connects three generations of consoles. As such, it is likely that many of the features, bells and whistles that made the 2013 NCAA football series such an impressive delight will not be available on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Here’s a round-up of what we know so far, how we got here, and the best guess we can do about how things will play out when college football returns.
Will EA Sports College Football Have Real Players?
At least it won’t be like that from now on. EA’s Daryl Holt said the game would not be released in 2021 and it is still in the early stages of development.
But by the time college football arrives, the NCAA may have passed changes to its amateur rules that would allow football players (and other athletes) to be compensated for using their name, image, and likeness (these three words are a key during tenure the legal dispute and the discussion about the payment of university athletes).
If these “NIL” rights are respected and players can be paid for commercial endorsements or appearances in youth sports camps, they can be paid to appear in a video game under their own names (and pictures and likenesses) during their four years of age School eligibility still occur.
In an interview with The Washington Post launcher verticalThe chief attorney in the lawsuit that contributed to the ending of the original NCAA football series said he believes EA Sports are making an informed bet that changes to the NIL rules are coming soon, and they’d better be ready if so happens.
“There is no reason why they shouldn’t have room [at the table]”Attorney Michael Hausfeld said to Launcher.” EA was ready to give it [the athletes] a place and give them part of the cake. This is the only way they can open the door. “
This is still an Xbox / PlayStation sports game, right?
Yes. This is not a mobile game or College branded bait and switch that bears little resemblance to its predecessor. The statement from EA Sports and CLC (the licensing agency for most universities) have stated that this is a simulation sports video game on consoles. That means a sports video game in the form of Madden NFL, NBA 2K, or the old NCAA football series that we saw on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
But if there aren’t any real players, is it good?
For sure. Real-life rosters are a central part of any licensed sports video game. Keep in mind, however, that players in the NCAA only have four years to play. Diehard video gamers involved in multi-year career campaigns – and with 12 or 13 games on the agenda, it’s easier to play long in American football than any other sports video game – are used to having a completely fictional player database after a few years to have dozen games.
A bigger question is how EA Sports will make real life come true Teams behave like their real-world counterparts – that is, Alabama is dominant, NC State is mediocre, Kansas is terrible – without basing that performance on the skills or strengths of their real-world players. Let’s further assume a program really came out of nowhere because of a breakout performer (think about quarterback Zach Wilson at Brigham Young this year). Developers could easily anonymize a star quarterback by giving them a different jersey number, ethnicity, or physical type. But how long does he stay on the team? Is this superstar a junior like Wilson or is that too close to real life? If he’s a newbie, does the team have an unfair advantage over the longer term?
Even if new restrictions severely affect EA Sports College Football’s ability to reflect real life, there should still be plenty of opportunities to serve a proxy, role-playing sports superstar fantasy, colleagues at MLB The Show and NBA 2K do makes pleasant. This is especially true as the game restores its compatibility with Madden NFL, which had drafting classes and superstar careers that were portable across the two football series, making the created players persistent from college to professional ranks.
Neither of these things really depended on real gamers as half the fun was playing as yourself or with friends, or just forming a group of awesome random NPCs in one game and watching them show up in another.
Will it have all schools?
There are 130 universities in the NCAA’s Football Bowl subdivision, the top division of college football. The statement by Electronic Arts and the CLC on Tuesday said their agreement includes “rights to more than 100 institutions with logos, stadiums, uniforms, game day traditions and more”. It sounds like they’re hedging a bit, but it’s still early in the process.
Some universities are big enough either to have individual agreements or consideration later, or they may not want to be part of the game at all. A CLC group license does not necessarily mean the rights to every school, just as a group license in a players’ association includes all members of that union.
Around the time NCAA Football was canceled, the University of Washington’s Director of Athletics recommended that the school not renew its licensing agreement with EA Sports. The Southeastern Conference – the organization, not all of its member schools – also wanted to drop out (for example, the conference’s championship game). A big name purported to be Ohio State or Notre Dame is said to have left at the time because of poor PR related to college licensing.
But since then, several soccer powerhouses and Nebraska have appeared in Madden NFL’s “Longshot” narratives and “Face of the Franchise” career modes. The home of the University of Texas, Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium, was the site of much of the first Longshot in Madden NFL 18. Such things have shown these schools that there are few downsides to video game appearances even when the rest of the sports world debates the appropriateness of the unpaid athletes on their campus.
If there aren’t all schools or real players, then what about adaptation?
When it closed, NCAA Football was in the fourth year of its web-based TeamBuilder app, arguably the most powerful modding toolkit for a console sports video game. (It was taken offline sometime in 2019.) If a university wasn’t in the game (usually teams from the Football Championship subdivision), users would create their analogue and share it, upload custom logos, and design intricate uniforms to match real life.
The problem is that this caught the universities’ attention. Around the time it was canceled, two FCS schools had asked EA Sports to remove all brands and images from the TeamBuilder database. TeamBuilder was also the distribution point for custom rosters – and users who banded together to rename rosters to reflect real-world players without moderation from EA were one of the issues that led to the lawsuit and its settlement.
When it was canceled, EA Tiburon’s designers were working on ideas that relied heavily on customization so fans could fill in the gaps the developers couldn’t fill. Since then, schools have had limited returns on strictly scripted settings in Madden and NBA 2K, with fictional rosters and no option to edit or change them. It’s likely that EA Sports’ licensing partners will insist on tighter restrictions and controls to prevent legal compromise, whether or not the new game has all 130 FBS teams.
Was NCAA soccer Really so good, or is that just nostalgia a canceled series usually gets?
No, it was a really good game. As an iterative sports title, NCAA Football had some issues, features that didn’t get enough attention, or ones that had a little too much marketing and gameplay behind them. But it was reputed to be better than its Madden sibling, or at least better at meeting expectations. College football was rather a distinctive game of the NFL eight years ago, and NCAA soccer 14 played like that. Since then, NFL offenses have adopted much of the spread formation and run / pass option tactics innovated in college labs.
But college football also has a unique player development and management system – recruiting children who will win games for you for four years. And of course, many, many more people have enrolled in universities like Colorado or Kentucky than ever before for the Oakland Raiders or Philadelphia Eagles. This explains why NCAA Football, which ran from 1995 to 2013, is like that still the fourth largest-selling sports franchise of all time.
According to the NPD Group, NCAA Football remains the fourth largest sports video game franchise in US history. Only Madden Football, NBA 2K, and FIFA are tracked in Lifetime Sales, although the July 13 launch of NCAA Football 14 is the most recent.
– Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) February 2, 2021
We haven’t seen a full size college football video game in the days of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Who knows what two generations of console development will add to an experience that already had live mascot run-outs, fight songs, and ESPNs at halftime studio and a recruiting tier that you can use to ruin your rival’s academic reputation (no, seriously). It will definitely look better and load faster.