Electronic Arts’ sports division has decided not to move forward with a new college football video game in 2014, halting the popular gaming franchise due to the numerous lawsuits involving players’ names and likeness. Steve Berkowitz of USA Today notes that lawsuits featuring three former players are still pending, and documented what EA’s American football general manager Cam Weber had to say about the matter:
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Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game.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.
Weber’s statement can be seen in its entirety on the company’s official website.
Following the release of NCAA Football 14, which featured former Michigan Wolverines star quarterback Denard Robinson on the cover, the NCAA announced in July that it would not renew its licensing deal with EA due to the litigation.
There were still plans in place to move forward with a new game, College Football 15, which would also have been unable to feature the Southeastern Conference or the SEC championship game.
Legal issues have halted those aspirations as well.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell pointed out the negative impact this will have on schools.
A game with a new name would have been quite the adjustment as it was, but not being able to label the SEC by its official name as the unquestioned best conference in the sport would have taken away from the game’s realism even more.
Players are beginning to speak up about the perceived injustice of not being compensated in a monetary manner for their services to the booming college football business.
According to Tom Farrey of ESPN.com, an “All Players United” campaign has started among players from multiple teams, where they mark their football gear and apparel with the acronym “APU.” It is designed to protest the current NCAA rules and how poorly they’re compensated.