NCAA Not Renewing Contract With EA Sports; May Bring an End to College Video Games

Posted July 17th, 2013 at 11:30 am


The NCAA today announced they will not be renewing their contract with EA Sports for the rights to their name and logo. That means NCAA Football 14 at the very least is the last game that will be able to use that name and it may be the final blow to a series that was already teetering on the edge of viability. 

The NCAA has made the decision not to enter a new contract for the license of its name and logo for the EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The current contract expires in June 2014, but our timing is based on the need to provide EA notice for future planning. As a result, the NCAA Football 2014 video game will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo. We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.

In theory EA could acquire individual licenses for schools through the CLC (though that license also expires next year) and just forgo the NCAA name and logo. Financially that may not make sense to do given the circumstances and if attempted could result in a game that doesn’t include every program or the bowl games as everything the NCAA provides would be gone. The series has already struggled to survive in recent years – the pending litigation over likenesses threatening whether the series could even continue in the future – and losing the NCAA’s support is significant even if it doesn’t represent a death blow technically.

The news comes at a critical time where decisions are being made about the future due to the console generation transition. It’s harder to believe EA would see the investment as a good one without NCAA support and still facing down the player likeness lawsuit in the courts. This development might be the excuse they have been looking for to get out of college football considering the lack of upside that has been evident with the series for quite some time. The plaintiffs in the likeness lawsuit will probably point to NCAA not renewing with EA as an admission of guilt which is not good for either party.

Ultimately this could mean the end to the series from EA Sports and if so likely the end of all college sports video games for the foreseeable future. From the statement it is clear that the NCAA wants nothing to do with games at this time so don’t expect some other company to strike a deal on the heels of this announcement. More on the news as developments occur.

[UPDATE] There are now reports that EA will continue with the series and call next year’s version “College Football 15” which is the most predictable name possible. The question is whether the company will follow through on that and continue beyond it. Even if the series was essentially dead there is no way EA would confirm that a week after NCAA 14 released. Financially-speaking it may make sense to follow the NCAA Baseball model (06-07) where EA would keep costs down and release College Football for another year or two on current-gen but don’t take it to next-gen so that is something to consider.

[UPDATE #2] EA has confirmed the College Football series will continue into next-gen.