There will be no college football video game next season from EA Sports. And depending on the duration of the legal wrangling, that absence could be longer.
The NCAA pulled its license from the game in July, but there was still the possibility the game could be produced. That possibility has been extinguished.
"We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football," EA Sports GM of American Football Cam Weber wrote on the company's site. "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 Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game.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."
Those legal issues are namely the Ed O'Bannon case and other suits, which seek damages from the NCAA and its licensees for using players' likenesses. While players in the NCAA football video games aren't assigned names and are given some different physical features, it's still obvious that QB No. 2 for Texas A&M, for example, is Johnny Manziel.In July, EA's first-amendment rights defense was struck down.
Soon after the post was published, it was reported that EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company had reached a settlement agreement with former players.
EA and CLC file court papers saying they've settled all claims with players.
— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) September 26, 2013
While the door was left open for future NCAA football games, its entirely possible that the legal process with the O'Bannon case will still be ongoing with the NCAA, the only defendant who has now not settled. That would likely prevent any production of a game.
After the NCAA license was pulled from the game, EA signed a deal with the CLC. However, soon after that agreement was signed, conferences like the Pac-12 and Big Ten pulled out of the game.