(UPDATE: You can find our latest NCAA Football article here.)
There are a lot of people who want to see EA’s NCAA Football franchise make a return. In December we published an article on the status of the franchise and whether or not we’d be seeing it make a return in 2016. At the time that didn’t seem very likely, and despite one of the worst marketing attempts of 2015, not much has changed.
The 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship was as popular as ever, but even with the success of the championship and the finals leading up to it (if you haven’t seen them, check out our simulations where we predicted the winner for 5 of 6 games), we’re still just as far away from seeing another college football game.
The longer we wait for another game, however, the more supporters we see hoping for a new installment. Those supporters aren’t limited to college students and athletes, though. Just last week, Fallout 4 director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios, Todd Howard, spoke at the 2016 DICE Summit on his desire to see another NCAA Football game.
“NCAA Football was one of my favorite games; they don’t make it anymore,” Howard said on stage. “While I’m here, EA, can you make NCAA Football again, please? That game honestly was important to me. I would play and win the national championship, recruit my team–the pride I felt in doing it. I felt good during the day if I won and I felt bad if I lost. to the computer. Now they don’t make it anymore and there’s a hole in my life.”
As GameSpot notes, this talk was given in front of an audience of industry luminaries, potentially including employees of Electronic Arts. It’s not like they don’t know the demand, though. As they proved during the championship game, people want to play NCAA Football on their consoles. The only problem is the licensing and likeness of athletes.
Todd Howard isn’t the only one interested in seeing NCAA Football return, however. Kirk Herbstreit, who served as commentator for the NCAA Football video games, also spoke about the series in an interview with SEC Country conducted in November 2015 that was published last month.
As far as Herbstreit is concerned, Ed O’Bannon is solely to blame for the lack of a college football video game. “I can’t believe Ed O’Bannon took that game away from us,” Herbstreit said during the interview.
While Ed O’Bannon is partially to blame for the lack of NCAA Football thanks to a lawsuit he filed over a likeness dispute, the court ultimately determined that the lawsuit did have merit. Obviously, Kirk Herbstreit didn’t feel that way.
According to Herbstreit, plenty of athletes would be happy to sacrifice pay in order for the game to return. “Every single college football player,” he said. “You know what they’d love for their compensation to be? Just give ‘em a free game. That’s the compensation that they would take.”
Perhaps everyone that Herbstreit talked to felt that way, but the comments that I’ve read on the subject seem to suggest otherwise. Many people — both athletes and fans alike — seem to agree that the players deserve some form of compensation. According to Herbstreit, however, the students are more than happy to appear in the game. “I’ve never met one player in college football that’s like: ‘They can’t use my name and likeness! I need to be paid!’ They’re just thrilled to be on the game. They love being on the game. It’s like the biggest highlight of their life, is to be on the game.”
It’s a hot topic with a lot of differing opinions, but I’m not sure Herbstreit is right on this one. Personally, I think that athletes deserve to be compensated. After all, this is a video game franchise built entirely upon the names and likenesses of college athletes. How much compensation they deserve is up for debate, but I find it hard to believe that a small salary is out of the question.
Either way, I don’t think we’ll be seeing another NCAA Football game until the matter of compensation is settled, and that’s unfortunate. But, I’m sure that athletes are fine with that. After all, the exposure can only benefit them so much.
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