EA Sports revealed that its popular college football video game is targeted to return to market in Summer 2024 after an 11-year absence. The sports gaming company is effectively starting from scratch to recreate the game instead of either using all the coding from the popular “Madden NFL” games or trying to just build on top of the 2014 version.
“That’s the best date for us to bring the game that we think is going to meet or exceed our player expectations,” EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt told ESPN. “And cover the breadth and scale of what we want in the game. We’re trying to build a very immersive college football experience.”
Multiple reports previously linked the game to a potential 2023 release date. However, Holt said that any previously reported dates were just conjecture. In a letter obtained by Matt Brown of Extra Points, marketing agency CLC addressed the change in timeline to athletic department officials across the country.
“While many expected 2023, EA Sports explains that this is necessary to ensure that their development team can build the best college game possible with the detail and the gameplay that they are known for delivering to fans,” CLC vice president of business development Dave Kirkpatrick wrote.
A key part of the game development is the introduction of name, image and likeness legislation in 2021. The original “NCAA ’14” was shelved after the O’Bannon v. NCAA Supreme Court ruling caused the NCAA and EA Sports to terminate their relationship after EA Sports was required to pay class-action compensation to previous athletes who were not compensated for being in the game. Updated NCAA guidelines cleared the way for NIL compensation in July 2021.
ESPN reports that any player whose likeness appears in the game will be compensated by EA Sports. However, unlike the NFL, there is no centralized college football entity to collectively bargain terms, which could cause complications. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick noted that the Fighting Irish would not take part in the game if players would not be compensated.
- Some of the most popular aspects of the old “NCAA ’14” games will be back, including Dynasty Mode and Road to Glory. Details are light at this point about what will be involved in the game modes as they are still in development. “When we sat down and started, you know, on a blank sheet of paper or a whiteboard talking about what we are gonna focus on? What’s gonna be in the game? Dynasty, was like, number one, top of the list,” Holt told ESPN.
- EA Sports has agreed to terms with all 10 FBS conferences and the College Football Playoff to appear in the game. It’s unclear at this point, however, just how many of the 131 FBS institutions have reached their own deals with EA Sports. Schools involved will have numerous pieces of intellectual property included in the game, including songs, traditions and even live audio from real crowds.
- It’s not been decided whether FCS or HBCU schools will be included. However, Holt did not rule out those institutions returning at some point. FCS programs previously appeared in the game until the mid-2000s.