EA is taking a break from developing college football games. Due to the ongoing legal situation with the NCAA and former student-athletes, they've decided not to release a new game in 2014.
The former athletes have accused NCAA and EA Sports of using their likenesses without paying them. College athletes are restricted from receiving payments. However, these former athletes contend that they should be compensated for appearing in games after they've graduated.
"For our part, we are working to settle the lawsuits with the student-athletes. Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game. 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."
The New York Times reports that EA will be settling with these athletes for $40 million. The lawyer for these players confirmed the figure to the Times. They still have to work out how the funds will be distributed among the players.
Even if the athletes have settled with EA, their case against the NCAA is still going. As such, the NCAA is still skittish about licensing additional games and opening themselves up to further litigation. They announced this summer that NCAA Football 14 would be the last game featuring their name and logo.
"We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games," the NCAA said at the time. "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."
After the NCAA made that announcement, reports suggested that EA would begin a new series called College Football. College Football 15 would feature powerhouse schools including Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon. EA would negotiate directly with the schools featured in the game rather than the NCAA. Maybe these schools are hesitant to make any plans before the NCAA lawsuit is completely over with?
EA says that their decision not to release a college football game next year won't affect their support of NCAA Football 14. Does that mean they're going to release free rosters updates for NCAA 14 next year? It wouldn't be an unprecedented move. They did the same for NBA Live 10 after cancelling NBA Elite 11.
The company hasn't given up on producing college football games in the future, either.
"At EA SPORTS, college football has always been a labor of love, and it is unfortunate that these business and legal issues have impacted our ability to make next year’s game. This franchise has been developed by a team that is deeply committed to the tradition and culture of this sport – that’s why fans have always loved it. We are working to retain the talented people who are part of the team by placing them elsewhere within the EA SPORTS organization."