EA Sports producer Ben Haumiller spoke with our Miami blog, State of the U, about the NCAA Football 14 release, and naturally, the topic of the NCAA's breakup with EA over the video game series came up. The O'Bannon case has cast a long shadow over college athletics, but even in the face of the potential obstacles, college football video games will continue to exist. Here's what Haumiller had to say on the topic:
CU: With the NCAA's recent decision to end their involvement with EA Sports, presumably due to the O'Bannon lawsuit, what can we look forward to in future versions of the college football video game series?
BH: Yeah, you know, that was a very interesting day. I think it shows, really, the effect of social media, and how quickly people can react to a headline, and frame an entire story based on just that headline. About half an hour after the first broke, you started seeing some changes to how the story was being told, because people had actually read the rest of the story. When they did they realized, ultimately, for a college football game, the NCAA name and likeness didn't really lend everything that was first thought for us making the game.
We still will have all of the rights to everything the [College Licensing Company] provides for us. So we'll have the schools, the stadiums, the conferences, bowl games, and trophies. All of these things are licensed outside of the NCAA name so for us, it really comes down to a name and logo change mostly. And, for me, that's going to be the toughest thing. Being a guy who's worked on this series for a long time, I have to train myself to NOT say "NCAA15" or "NCAA16" or whatever by default in future years. That retraining of my brain will be the hardest thing.
But, that's ultimately what the biggest change is going to be: a different name and a different logo. We don't have to get NCAA approval for what we're doing in the game, but we do have to get individual school approval. So, in the end, it's removing one piece of the equation, but doesn't change everything drastically. It won't be the wild wild west as far as features in Dynasty mode or other things, because we're still going to be respectful of what the schools wish to have in the game.
EA Sports was never the big target of the name and likeness lawsuits, but they were an obvious party to include. However, their time as a party to these lawsuits could be coming to a close. On Monday, EA asked to have part of the case pertaining to them dismissed, which would remove them from the list of defendants prior to a potential class certification. Also, on Wednesday, EA lost a different college player likeness case, this one led by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller.