We don’t have many details yet — we don’t have any details, in fact — but we do know one thing. The EA Sports NCAA Football video game is coming back.
EA made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday morning.
— EA SPORTS (@EASPORTS) February 2, 2021
The NCAA Football franchise has been dormant since the 2014 installment (released in the summer of 2013) when EA Sports decided it could no longer produce a game based on players’ likenesses without paying them, something that was barred by NCAA rules.
The NCAA is in the process of changing said rules, but without any sort of union or group licensing apparatus (though that may be changing). The lack of any sort of organization among players was said to make it difficult, if not impossible, for EA Sports or any other video game maker to produce a realistic game.
The plan, as of now, is to bring the game back without rosters based on real players. This, of course, is what made the original NCAA Football franchise magical, if not ethically dubious. Should the rules change, so will the game.
“We’ll just keep tabs on everything as it develops and we’ll be ready,” EA Sports vice president Daryl Holt told ESPN. “That won’t be a problem for us. But it’s really, that’s not an answer for us right now to decide. We’re as much passengers as anyone else.”
The company still does not have a date for when the game will return. It doesn’t even have a date where it will announce a future release date. ESPN’s story also said EA has secured licensing for “over 100” FBS schools, implying 30-odd FBS schools would be left out as of today. The game will also return without NCAA-specific branding, instead coming back as EA Sports College Football.
Again, the magic of the original game was that you played for the BCS national championship and in the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, etc., just like the real thing, instead of for a generic national title or in the Bowl of Roses.
So it remains to be seen if the new game is as realistic as the original. It also remains to be seen when this game will be in our hands. But it will be in our hands at some point.