Five years have now passed since the last NCAA Football game released

Posted July 10th, 2018 at 12:01 am

Had the NCAA Football series not been cancelled NCAA Football 19 would have released today. It’s a sad reminder that the saga which began in 2009 with lawsuits from Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller still hasn’t reached its ultimate resolution. NCAA Football was the big casualty along the way when it was shut down shortly after the release of NCAA Football 14 in 2013.

NCAA Football was cancelled not just due to a loss of NCAA branding and the ongoing legal action but the cold feet of parties such as conferences and universities which had begun to back out of agreements. A college video game without authentic licensing, or a hybrid that has some licensing but glaring omissions, simply wouldn’t have been commercially feasible.

The class action headed by Ed O’Bannon would later prove victorious, with the NCAA being found to have violated antitrust laws. Electronic Arts and the CLC were able to settle their way out of the case before that ruling was found. Unfortunately, despite the judgment, nothing would change in the world of sports video games when an appeals court reversed the decision that would have allowed players to receive limited compensation beyond just education-related expenses and then the Supreme Court passed on hearing the case. 

Even though five years have passed since the release of NCAA Football 14 fans still love talking about the game and lament its loss. That was clearly evident yesterday on social media where it was one of the hottest topics of the day. While there was naturally frustration over its continued absence there was also a lot of fond recollection of what made the series so great, as evidenced by many of the responses to the tweet below.

What has struck me the most is the diversity of all the responses to that question. Everyone has their own unique personal stories to share, and there’s no sports video game franchise that can compare to the way personal narratives were written in the minds of fans as they played Dynasty Mode. NCAA was also the home of many truly innovative features which have been cited as well.

The Jeffrey Kessler vs NCAA case, that is slated for the trial to begin in December, is the big thing to watch. That lawsuit seeks to remove any restriction on collegiate athletes to make money. Should it prove successful, EA Sports would likely be able to pay players for their rights, all the important parties (universities, conferences, bowls) would get back on board, and a video game that may not have any involvement with the NCAA as an organization may begin to take shape.

Last year, coinciding with NCAA 14’s fourth anniversary, we did a podcast going over the entire history of what led to the downfall of college sports video games and what future there could be for them. This week we’ll be doing another show centered on NCAA Football and college sports games, but with a more emotional slant on what the series meant to fans and whether hope should still be held out for its return. Look for that on Friday!