Rovell: All the Unknowns Still Remain After EA Sports NCAA Football Announcement

Rovell: All the Unknowns Still Remain After EA Sports NCAA Football Announcement article feature image
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Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images. Pictured: EA Sports

Electronic Arts dropped its most relevant news in a long time on Tuesday when it announced that it was bringing back its college football video game.

Shelved six years ago as athletes sued to get control of past used name, image and likeness, there was little hope for the future as checks had to be cut to the athletes used.

I asked and asked over the years and the answer was the same: The cost of future games, should they use real players, images and likenesses, likely would be insurmountable. 

So what does today’s announcement mean?

It means that EA cut a deal with more than 100 schools to use its intellectual property, but as the NCAA hasn’t formulated how name, image and likeness will work, there is no promise to include players as part of this.

I took a quick poll of Twitter and 60 percent of voters said this didn’t matter. Barstool’s Dan Katz (Big Cat) famously created Coach Duggs and live streamed him coaching a six-year-old EA game and no one seemed to care. People just create their own rosters how they want and try to win the championship in dynasty mode.

Gamers are quick to point out that bootleg roster updates have existed for years and that loophole was something that EA was blindly willing to allow in the past. 

But with them having to pay out in the past and with name, image and likeness on the horizon, good luck thinking EA’s legal counsel is going to allow this loophole to happen again.

I say no shot.

Customizing names on jerseys and not paying players now won’t work and EA will be liable. Nor do I see a group licensing agreement of players forming any time soon.

The way EA announced it, it’s clear we are probably around 18 months away from a new game launching. A lot will happen by then.

Name, image and likeness will likely be set up in an efficient manner. EA could strike deals with star players and release them at profitable terms to the game company in update packages. Since EA’s last game, online games like Fornite and Roblox have exploded and people are used to paying for special things. Plus, NBA2K updates have always existed.

It’s very easy to see how a company like Opendorse could help EA scale the offers based on skill and popularity. A player could click that they would like to be included in the NCAA game at an agreed upon price and an update package could include them.

This game has been gone for so long that there are plenty of people who would be fine with just updated gameplay. 

What did today mean? It  meant EA was ready to test the waters again. And the public clearly said they’re willing to take whatever EA has as long as they have a new game.

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