It’s been a long time since sports video games have seen the EA Sports NCAA games moniker. This is due to longtime strife between college athletes, the NCAA, and the video game companies. But that will all be changing soon for the benefit of everyone with new rule changes inside the NCAA. And with that rule change, sports video game enthusiasts will gladly welcome back some of their favorite sports games like NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, and NCAA Baseball.
At one point, your March Madness odds were probably much better than ever seeing these games return to the lineup. But thanks to the powers that be in the NCAA and the ever-changing landscape of student-athlete lifestyles and social media presences, the new NIL rules will allow these games to come back without any exploitation of players.
Let’s take a look at how we got to this point and what we can look forward to in the future of college sports video games.
The End of NCAA Games
In 2014, the last of the NCAA video games came and went, being the ever-popular NCAA Football game which had integration features with the Madden Football franchise which allowed the best players to be transferred and drafted in the professional ranks. This was due to a lawsuit that was brought forward by players and coaches in the NCAA whose likeness and names were being used for profit with them not being compensated by the video game companies.
At the time, this was a big deal because players of any NCAA sport could not receive money or other forms of compensation without being in violation of the amateurism rules of the NCAA. The lawsuit that was brought forth claimed that players were being exploited by the NCAA, member schools, and the gaming companies who were all profiting. And they made a strong point, which ultimately ruled in their favor, spelling the end of the NCAA Sports franchise games.
While compensating college athletes has always been a big debate for various reasons, mostly due to colleges and companies taking advantage and exploiting players’ skills without needing to compensate the players in any way. This would have been a violation of rules at the time. But as of late, the debate has been picking up steam with the popularity of social media and the ability to monetize personal brands.
As of July 1, 2021, the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rules were implemented and put into effect that will allow players to now be compensated for anything using their name, image, or likeness. This can include but is not limited to, autographs, endorsement deals, social media monetization, memorabilia sales, and much more. While players across all levels and sports of college sports are now free to do these things, not everyone will have the same advantages to make money, but at least the opportunity is there.
This new direction by the NCAA now also opens new doors for video game companies, especially EA Sports, to resurrect their NCAA sports games franchise. So what can we expect?
The Resurrection of NCAA Sports Games
Now that the NIL is enacted, video game companies are now free to strike deals with individuals and groups of players to use their names, images, and likenesses. This does not mean that every Division I football player will stand to make a large sum of money, but the possibility is there. Game players will probably see a lot more generic players that have no resemblance to the players on the actual team but plan on seeing the big names of college sports be there in name and likeness.
EA Sports has already put forth proposals to the big FBS colleges and universities to start the production of a new NCAA Football game. As of right now, that deal would put a new game out mid-summer of 2023 and a four-year license proposal would allow EA Sports to continue through at least 2027. That’s exciting news for college sports fans and gamers alike.
This could also spell a huge growth for esports as with at least NCAA Football coming back, and hopefully, both NCAA Basketball and Baseball will also come back. But gamers would gladly welcome more sports games to competitively play in the esports arena. The future of NCAA Sports games looks promising for everyone involved.