Since 2013, when video game maker EA Sports last released a college football game, much has changed in the collegiate sports landscape — perhaps most notably in this case is increasing calls for players to be able to profit from use of their name, image and likeness.
Despite that particular issue not being settled, EA Sports announced Tuesday that it would bring back a college football game soon, ESPN reports.
Daryl Holt, EA Sports vice president and general manager, told ESPN that the game, which had been released under the title NCAA Football along with the corresponding year from 1997 to 2014, will likely next be released simply as EA Sports College Football.
"It all starts really with where we see college football as going. There's a lot of things happening, and there's a lot of things happening in sports," Holt told ESPN. "EA Sports College Football gives us a name and a brand to kind of work around for some things that might evolve as well as what we're focusing on really out of the gate, which is really the FBS Division I schools and the road to the College Football Playoff and college football championship.
"So EA Sports College Football we just felt is the right name for the product for not only now but also as we move forward."
The return of the game is not imminent, and Holt said the game studio is in early stages of development. EA Sports is reportedly working with collegiate licensing company CLC to ensure that more than 100 FBS schools — as well as traditions, uniforms and playbooks for each — make their way into the game.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, one of the leading voices in Washington on student-athlete NIL rights, criticized the announcement, citing the fact that current plans won’t allow student-athletes a share of any earnings.
“EA Sports’ college football series reboot is just further proof that the NCAA's priority is keeping their profits coming while keeping any and all revenue away from their athletes,” Murphy said in the statement. “Cutting athletes out of this reboot so they aren’t responsible for paying them for their likeness is a grave injustice, and I’ll be introducing legislation soon to help players finally profit off their talent so they don’t need to face continued mistreatment like this.”
Holt told ESPN that EA Sports would monitor the NIL debate in Washington and be poised to act should any changes require it.
"We'll just keep tabs on everything as it develops, and we'll be ready," Holt said. "That won't be a problem for us. But it's really, that's not an answer for us right now to decide. We're as much passengers as anyone else.”
The last edition of the game, NCAA Football 2014, featured former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson on the cover.