College football video gamers may want to be sure to pick up a copy of NCAA Football 14, because it does not appear as though there will be an NCAA Football 15 released next summer (UPDATE: EA Sports has issued a statement confirming they will continue producing titles in the college football franchise). The NCAA is pulling out of an exclusive contract with EA Sports, and it is not expected another company will be able to pick up the contract any time soon.
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.
Had to see this one coming, right?
The NCAA and EA Sports are embattled in what appears to be a losing fight against former student athletes. The lawsuit headed up by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon has been picking up steam and appears to have enough legs to run away with a landmark court victory against the NCAA and EA Sports. The financial fallout of it all will be determined soon enough, but the NCAA cutting ties with EA Sports at this point leaves us to assume this will not be pretty for the NCAA. A decision to no longer support the NCAA Football franchise suggests the organization is fighting a losing battle and ensuring further problems are avoided.
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, what happens to the franchise from here? From a gaming perspective, the work will now fall on the loyal NCAA Football community to update rosters on an annual basis. Fortunately there are people crazy enough to do just that, at least for a while. Expect a group of gamers to ensure there is an updated and accurate roster available to download to fill the NCAA Football 15 vacancy. The one drawback will be we will never be able to truly simulate the virtual College Football Playoff, but we have a year before needing to worry about that.
EDIT: As Pasta Padre notes, EA Sports could hypothetically acquire individual school licenses instead of going through the NCAA, but that could prove to be costly. If EA Sports were to pursue that option though, they could then technically acquire bowl game and conference licenses as well and continue the series without anything directly tied to the NCAA. This is just a theory and not likely, but the possibility is open.
UPDATE: EA Sports has released a statement confirming the company will continue producing the franchise without the NCAA brand directly attached. Per EA Sports;
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.