Are We Close to Gaming As the ‘Noles Again?

Mike Settle

It’s been six years now since college football had a new video game for fans to play and discuss as a community. The Ed O’Bannon trial caused EA Sports' classic NCAA Football game to stop production, and since then we’re left with outdated uniforms and an outdated way to crown a national champion-- in a game that you can currently purchase for around $200. 

In that time, very dedicated players have kept the video game alive by updating the team rosters with proper names, numbers and skill sets. It’s received a new jolt of life in the past months due to the COVID-19 inflicted quarantine. That includes FSU football’s virtual spring game back in April. 

Recently however, a new rule was passed by the NCAA allowing players to profit from their image and likeness. Does this mean we’re any closer to the return of seeing a virtual Doak Campbell Stadium with a Mike Norvell led FSU team? The answer is— maybe?

So, what’s the hold up? 

The new image and likeness ruling only allows for individual players to profit from their name and likeness, for lack of a better word. This cannot include the school, conference, or official uniforms, apparel, and logos. This is where our stand off begins and ends. The rules are written so the universities and their conferences of affiliation aren’t on the hook for paying any of the athletes. These new rules require another provision and/or clause that allows the video game to be negotiated at the conference or school level.

This is assuming that the universities, conferences, and companies like Nike, Under Armor and Adidas want to get involved at all. What good is a game with players we don’t recognize and what good is a game with no Warchant, no Renegade, and no spear on the helmet? This thing takes all parties involved for the perfect marriage. It’s the reason the 2014 version of the game lives on with current players. Uniforms matter, too. If you think FSU looks like Boston College now, just wait until they roll out in an unlicensed knock-off version. 

So, what are some solutions? 

If you want to see Florida State, and even its hated rivals portrayed the way they’re supposed to be, you have to get all parties involved at the table to work together with EA Sports or whichever company ends up with the rights to make the game. They would need decide if making/distributing a college football video game is worth the amount of money it’s going to take. That's the first step. 

Step two is a negotiation at the university/conference level to find a set amount of money and/or gifts that every student-athlete gets for his likeness being used. The student-athlete can sign for it or decide against it. These athletes want to play as themselves in these games, which is one reason why you still see NFL players who play the Madden franchise. 

Is any of this close to being a reality?

The hard truth is, I think we’re far away from a new video game. A players union seems like a far-off dream, even if it may be the smartest thing for all involved. When this ruling was passed, I was one of the many who screamed and shouted out of excitement in hopes the game would make its long overdue return. I mean, just look at my reaction immediately after the rumors began to circulate.

I think some day we will see a return of the NCAA series, and fans everywhere will rejoice. For now though, it seems our best bet is to fire up the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 if we want to hear the Florida State Fight Song after James Blackman throws a touchdown pass to Tamorrion Terry.