The last installment of Electronic Arts’ venerable sports game, NCAA Football, was released over two years ago on July 9, 2013. The final iteration was NCAA Football 2014. The game cover was graced by current Jacksonville Jaguars running back, Denard Robinson, when he played QB for the Michigan Wolverines. A few weeks ago, around the time NCAA Football 2016 would have been released, a federal judge approved a 60 million dollar settlement with former NCAA football and basketball players over video games that used their likenesses to promote the multi-million dollar video game franchises.
Prior to the release of NCAA Football 2014, Electronic Arts announced that they would not be renewing their licensing agreement with the NCAA due to pending lawsuits. EA announced that they still hoped to maintain the production of college athletic video games, without the NCAA licensing agreement, by pursuing agreements with colleges, universities, and conferences independently. Unfortunately, three of the Power Five conferences (SEC, PAC-12, and Big Ten) refused to license to Electronic Arts, effectively ending the presence of NCAA sports in video games.
The conflict between student athletes and the non-profit NCAA has been a media priority over the last several months. While we are exploring this conflict through the lens of video games and the loss of a product that fans salivated for, waiting every year, it touches on a much larger issue that affects both fans and players.
Why is this being brought up by Gobbler Country? The lack of the once annual expectation prevents us from being able to participate in an entertaining standard enjoyed professional sports. That standard is the simulation of a big game! This is a fun, and usual, action carried out by sports outlets for predictions about major sporting events. I am lamenting the ability of collegiate athletics to participate in this tradition.
Perhaps, in the future, the NCAA, the players, and the video game industry will be able to work out a way to return college football fans the ability to virtually simulate and play as their beloved teams.