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Closing the Door on College Sports Games

/ Jul 29th, 2015 No Comments

NCAA Football 14

College sports video games were once highly regarded triple-A titles and fans could not wait for new iterations each year. However, these games succumbed to the same debate that has hindered college sports for years — should the players be paid?

Recent reports that 2K quietly acquired licenses for some college basketball teams that might appear in NBA 2K16 have excited eager college sports fans. NCAA Football 14 was the last college sports game to be released, and fans have been asking for more college sports game since. But that doesn’t mean college sports video games are making a comeback.

This is The End

After a lenghty legal battle, a U.S. district court judge approved a $60 million settlement between EA Sports, the NCAA and collegiate athletes. Finally, players whose likenesses were used in EA’s college sports games will be receiving some compensation.

Expect plenty of Read Option in NCAA Football 14.

Was NCAA Football 14 the end of college sports games?

EA is expected to pay $40 million of the settlement to the more than 20,000 current and former college players whose likenesses were used in video games between 2003 and 2014, ending claims against the developer, the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company.

This landmark decision will have a major ripple effect. Not only does it mark the first time that collegiate athletes will be paid, it also likely ends the possibility that college sports games will be made in the near future.

Why This Means the End

There are strong indications that 2K is planning a revival of sorts for college sports in a video game. It appears that NBA 2K16 will feature NCAA basketball teams in some minor capacity, but that could be as close to an officially licensed college sports game as we’ll get anytime soon.

The recent decision against EA Sports means there will be significant risk in making a college sports game, and that is a risk many publishers will not be willing to take. In addition to having to fork over $40 million, EA spent countless hours dealing with a lawsuit. Other companies will not want to follow this same path.

NBA 2K15 MyCareer

NBA 2K16 MyCareer could feature college teams.

Community feedback indicates NCAA video games would not be without fan support, but that doesn’t mean developers and publishers will blindly follow that niche audience. Baseball gamers have been asking for MVP Baseball ever since the franchise ended in 2007 and there is strong sentiment to bring back NFL 2K. Yet, neither of those dead series have come back to life.

Developers and publishers are in touch with their fans, and there is no doubt they are aware of these desires. But creating a completely new franchise requires a lot of effort and money. Add in the risk of dealing with NCAA teams and collegiate athletes who want to be paid, and it seems college sports video games could be gone long term.


Ryan Bloom

Ryan Bloom

Chief Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Ryan Bloom is a writer and avid gamer from Orange County. He received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @BloomsTweets.
Ryan Bloom
Ryan Bloom

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