EA Sports is discontinuing its college football video game series, which was set to be renamed College Football in coming editions, amid lawsuits raised against the NCAA by former players seeking compensation. This relates to EA Sports because the company has a history of using real player likenesses in this series.
The EA Sports statement in full:
Today I am sad to announce that we will not be publishing a new college football game next year, and we are evaluating our plan for the future of the franchise. This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year. I'd like to explain a couple of the factors that brought us to this decision.
We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. Just like companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel, we follow rules that are set by the NCAA - but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes. For our part, we are working to settle the lawsuits with the student-athletes. Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game. The ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences have left us in a difficult position - one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience, which is the very foundation of EA SPORTS games.
At EA SPORTS, college football has always been a labor of love, and it is unfortunate that these business and legal issues have impacted our ability to make next year's game. This franchise has been developed by a team that is deeply committed to the tradition and culture of this sport - that's why fans have always loved it. We are working to retain the talented people who are part of the team by placing them elsewhere within the EA SPORTS organization.
In the meantime, we will continue to be connected and engaged with our fans who are playing EA SPORTS NCAA Football. Our decision does not affect our commitment to NCAA Football 14 and the consumers who love playing the game.
In July, the NCAA announced it would no longer have anything to do with the series. The company arranged a licensing deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company, which would've allowed it to keep using all the real school names and logos for willing universities. But then universities became unwilling, with the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 also dropping support.
The depictions of active players in the company's annual games tend to match their on-field counterparts down to everything but first and last names, which can be edited. The ongoing Ed O'Bannon lawsuit seeks, among other things, to ensure that players must be compensated for the use of likenesses such as those.