EA Sports is being discontinued, as far as the NCAA trademark is concerned anyway, but promises to be back without missing a hitch (route) as College Football 2015 or some variance of it. The EA sports NCAA Football franchise gaming community was put on red-alert late yesterday when the NCAA released this statement to the general public;
"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 last part of the statement does leave it open for the NCAA to sign with another franchise such as 2K, but I’m not sure they’ll be willing to be put in the position that made them discontinue their affiliation with EA in the first place. Sam Keller and Ed O’bannon have been at the forefront of the lawsuit that has had NCAA gamers everywhere on pins and needles for the past two or three years. Now that the questions and ultimate fears have been realized, the answers and hope are able to return.
EA Sports released this statement after the news broke from the NCAA:
"By now, most fans will have heard that EA’s licensing agreement with the NCAA is set to expire and that we have agreed to part ways. I’m sure gamers are wondering what this means.This is simple: EA SPORTS will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks. Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Company is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature the college teams, conferences and all the innovation fans expect from EA SPORTS.We took big creative strides with this year’s college game and you’ll see much more in the future. We love college football and look forward to making more games for our fans."
This statement assures that there is no need to fret college football fans! In fact, now that the NCAA trademark has officially cut ties with the gaming franchise, EA Sports can look to do a lot of things not previously optioned because of the NCAA. Things such as rushing the field, late hit penalties, pregame raucous between rivalry teams, pre-score celebrations and off the field issues could possibly return as viable additions.
We’ll all hope the franchise doesn’t go “2K Blitz” on us, but some of the newly available features that the NCAA had banned from the franchise could take the game to the next level and give it some new life (solely assuming the Collegiate Licensing Company isn’t the one keeping those things under wraps). I don’t think the EA team would stray too far away from portraying college football at an integral level, due to the continued (at least at the moment) ESPN license among other strong collegiate athletic ties. The only concern is if it will be tough to originally manage the reality of (again possibly) literally having no boundaries on the new-gen consoles with staying true to the game that EA has begun to positively turn the corner with, according to its’ hardcore crowds.
Speaking of 2K Sports, as mentioned before they now might be able to get back in the college football game as a true competitor at some point in time and that’s a very intriguing proposition for many gamers that appreciate the 2K brand of game in general. Of course before last season EA lost the exclusivity rights on college football but their exclusive (and at the time strong) association with the NCAA really made it irrelevant. It’s no secret the 2K franchise has owned NBA basketball and had a death-grip on NCAA basketball as well before it was discontinued six seasons ago, but EA has owned the floor with other sports titles. Those include FIFA, Boxing and by-and-large MLB baseball titles as well. Hockey seems to be more of a wash but EA has also stepped its’ game up in recent seasons there too.
The other (and maybe most important) plus for 2K in college football is that they would add competition to the EA Sports brand of the game, which hardcore fans have criticized for almost a decade now of being “lazy” and “apathetic” in the manner in which they develop the game. While EA has been adamant that they put everything into their games year in and year out, now we’ll truly see if there is anything else that EA can put forth in the efforts and imagination department and it should be better all around for the gamer.
Then again, maybe none of that will happen and EA just continues the franchise as College Football 15 next July. The aforementioned “strong relationship” between EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company will have a lot to do with how this all works out. According to gaming guru Owen Good (@OwenGood on twitter) this whole deal is merely a technicality and won’t really affect anything. However these things have a way of changing gears once certain steps are taken and this is definitely a change that has been coming but not necessarily imminent over the past two years.
At any rate college football will continue to be a part of our every year gaming lineup for the foreseeable future, and I can’t stress how awesome and relieving that is as a gamer myself!