As a result of ongoing cases concerning the use of student-athlete likenesses, EA Sports will not release a version of its popular NCAA Football video games next year, the company announced on Thursday.
In a statement, Cam Weber, EA Sports GM of American football, cited ongoing legal challenges and a lack of support from the NCAA and conferences in the company's decision to halt production of the game:
Today I am sad to announce that we will not be publishing a new college football game next year, and we are evaluating our plan for the future of the franchise. This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year. I’d like to explain a couple of the factors that brought us to this decision.
We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. Just like companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel, we follow rules that are set by the NCAA – but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes. 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 Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game.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.
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.
In the meantime, we will continue to be connected and engaged with our fans who are playing EA SPORTS NCAA Football. Our decision does not affect our commitment to NCAA Football 14 and the consumers who love playing the game.
In July, the NCAA announced that it would not renew its contract with EA Sports. Reports originally indicated that EA Sports would release a video game without the NCAA's name or logo called "College Football 15," but the company's decision today indicates there won't be another installment of the franchise next year.
In August, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC all followed the NCAA's lead and ceased licensing their name and trademarks to EA Sports.
The NCAA and EA Sports were co-defendants with Collegiate Licensing Company in a high-profile antitrust lawsuit put forth by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. However, a report surfaced Thursday that EA and CLC have settled all claims with the plaintiffs, leaving the NCAA as the lone defendant in the case. O’Bannon v. the NCAA seeks damages for the use of player likenesses in video games and television broadcasts, and the case is awaiting ruling on class-action certification.