EA Sports has dropped a bombshell this morning on social media: College Football is returning to your PCs and consoles.
However, as reported by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, it’s not going to be the same as EA’s last installment. The revered NCAA Football ‘14 isn’t going to miraculously leap forward eight years. For starters, as revealed in EA’s release, the letters “NCAA” are completely missing.
EA has, via CLC, acquired the rights to the trademarks of over 100 NCAA teams. The status of schools which are not represented by CLC
— including Kansas State — is questionable. It’s also possible that not all 100+ schools presently planned will be FBS teams, as CLC does manage licensing for schools outside the highest tier of college football.
It’s also unclear when the game will actually be released. Per EA’s Daryl Holt, development is just beginning on the game; if they’re going to start with the NCAA ‘14 backbone, they might get the game out the door in time for EA Sports College Football ‘23. Otherwise, we may be waiting several years to finally get our hands on the first next-gen version of the franchise.
What is clear: the game will not, as presently devised, use actual players. Obviously, with EA being a key actor in the lawsuits which have slowly pushed the NCAA toward allowing NIL rights to players, the use of player likenesses is still very much verboten right now but may be completely acceptable by the time the game progresses toward release. EA has also made no comment on the availability of imported roster management in the new game; it’s theoretically possible they’ll leave that feature out just to cover themselves fully from legal action by players.
In the end, this means that after a decade without a new college football game, aficionados will finally get their hands on an update with graphics optimized for the newest generation of consoles. It might be very interesting to see whether the sport’s increased focus on passing and hurry-up offenses will create a completely different meta for the game itself than players of NCAA ‘14 are accustomed to, as well as what new wrinkles the game will include on a technical level.
But at least it’s officially coming back. Eventually.
Correction: We missed a memo. Learfield, which has controlled K-State’s licensing for several years, purchased CLC in 2019. So K-State does appear on CLC’s client list now, and would presumably be one of the teams already slated for inclusion. Our apologies for the mistaken assumption.
Correction 2: K-State signed a licensing agreement with Affinity last summer. Not sure whether the exclusivity in that agreement completely applies, and CLC still lists K-State as a client, so our official position is “we don’t know”. We’ll try and find out.
Update: Per Kenny Lannou, K-State’s SID, CLC will be working with Affinity to secure rights to K-State’s trademarks. It’s K-State’s desire to be included in the game when and if it returns.