EA Sports Cancels College Football 15, Settles Lawsuit
People looking forward to the next installment of EA Sports’ annual college football franchise will just have to do the annual roster update themselves. EA has cancelled next year’s edition of EA Sports College Football (formerly NCAA Football) and may be cancelling the franchise altogether as a result of player likeness lawsuits and licensing withdrawals by the NCAA and some of it member conferences.
In a statement on the EA corporate blog, EA Sports’ General Manager of American football, Cam Weber, announced that the company wouldn’t be making a college football game next year and is “evaluating our plan for the future of the franchise.”
This news was surprisingly not sooner in the making. Back in July, the NCAA ended its licensing agreement with EA meaning that the NCAA logo and name wouldn’t be used in 2014’s NCAA football video game. In August, three of college football’s biggest conferences, the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12, all ended their licensing agreements with EA Sports.
Weber also cited the ongoing class-action lawsuit with former NCAA players over the use of their likenesses without permission. In EA’s statement, Weber said, “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.”
And immediately following EA’s announcement of the College Football franchise going on hiatus (but possibly being cancelled outright), the publisher announced that they and the Collegiate Licensing Company, the entity that licenses the trademarks of individual schools, had settled their lawsuit with former players over the use of their likenesses. The NCAA is also a defendant in the lawsuit but has not settled.
According to CBS Sports, the NCAA requires athletes to allow the association the right to use their likenesses as a condition for eligibility to participate in collegiate sports. One could take that as the NCAA causing the very licensing problem that they’re blaming EA for.
While terms of the settlement were not disclosed, one would assume that the outcome of the lawsuit has discouraged EA from continuing to make the game. Plaintiffs’ attorney Eugene Egdorf said, “I’m disappointed in that because there should be a game. All that has to happen is the NCAA allow players to be paid and there would be a game.” In other words, if the NCAA stopped treating players as slave labour and allow them to be paid for making the schools millions of dollars, there would still be NCAA Football games. But that’s another debate for another time (and place).