Earlier today, EA announced that it would not make its annual NCAA Football game for the 2014-15 season.
Then, just a few hours later, EA and fellow defendant College Licensing Co. settled several lawsuits in regard to college likenesses in EA’s NCAA football and basketball video games.
Former college players had filed antitrust and right-of-publicity suits against EA and CLC, accusing the companies of essentially using them in video games without compensation.
Today’s settlement decision means that more than 100,000 college football and basketball players who appeared in EA’s games since 2003 are eligible for settlement money. It’s unclear what the terms of today’s settlement is, but regardless this has huge implications for college sports games, and collegiate athletics as a whole in terms of proper compensation for student-athletes.
Here’s what Cam Weber, who manages the EA’s NCAA Football and Madden NFL franchises, wrote in a post today:
Today I am sad to announce that we will not be publishing a new college football game next year, and we are evaluating our plan for the future of the franchise. This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year. I’d like to explain a couple of the factors that brought us to this decision.
We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. 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 Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game.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.
At EA SPORTS, college football has always been a labor of love, and it is unfortunate that these business and legal issues have impacted our ability to make next year’s game. This franchise has been developed by a team that is deeply committed to the tradition and culture of this sport – that’s why fans have always loved it. We are working to retain the talented people who are part of the team by placing them elsewhere within the EA SPORTS organization.
In the meantime, we will continue to be connected and engaged with our fans who are playing EA SPORTS NCAA Football. Our decision does not affect our commitment to NCAA Football 14 and the consumers who love playing the game.