The lights are on
Earlier this week, we reported that the NCAA had decided not only not to renew its contract with EA Sports, but that it was getting out of the video game business altogether. EA quickly responded that it would continue its college football franchise, just without the NCAA name and logo.
Today, Joystiq is reporting that EA will be extending its agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company through June 30, 2017, giving the publisher a non-exclusive college football game. As you might recall, EA is the subject of an anti-trust suit related directly to its NCAA and NFL franchises, both which were created under exclusive license.
The NCAA's decision to depart the medium is focused on an ongoing class-action lawsuit brought against the college athletics association and EA. The plaintiffs allege that player likenesses were used without permission. The NCAA has strict rules about college athlete compensation, which is also an issue in the case since likenesses are involved.
“Our suit illustrates how the cabal between the NCAA and EA has exploited student athletes for years, using their images in video games without compensation," said Steve Berman of Hagens Berman and co-lead counsel on the case in a comment to Game Informer. "While we are heartened they’ve stopped the practice, we believe they owe those student athletes a great deal more than their implied promise to stop stealing their images. We look forward to taking this case to trial and winning compensation for student-athletes whose likenesses were used without their permission, in violation of both the NCAA’s rules and the law.”
The class-action suit goes to a jury trial in February 2014.
Our TakeThe key takeaways here are that the digital representation of college football will carry on, and that EA will still be able to use the names and logos of college teams. Additionally, should another publisher wish to jump in, they now can.
Will 2K Sports dive back in? Unlikely. 2K is typically averse to licensed titles, and the effort it would take to build a new football engine from scratch after being out of the game for so long probably isn't worth it… yet.
Once the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are in the hands of consumers for a bit, it wouldn't surprise me if 2K Sports takes a look at football once more IF they can strike the right deal with the NFL, too. Leveraging one new engine for two series offers much better economies of scale.