It’ll be around 11 years since the last licensed college football video game was released nationwide when EA Sports’ revival version of the franchise hits stores next summer. The last season without the College Football Playoff was chronicled in the game. The pandemic was several years off and name, image, and likeness becoming legal nationwide was even further away. Now, with NIL almost two years in full swing, EA Sports confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that it contracted OneTeam Partners to “facilitate collegiate athletes’ names and likenesses” for the game. All eligible FBS players will have the chance to opt-in and have their likeness in the game. It’s unclear what “eligible” means from EA, so if you’re just on the scout team, your chances of appearing in a video game might be shot.
EA Sports confirmed compensation for those who opt into the video game, but the exact payment structure hasn’t been determined. For the rare player that doesn’t opt-in, a generic avatar and player would be in that athlete’s place. It likely wouldn’t be the same model used in the last NCAA video game with such performers as Florida State QB No. 5. Every fan with a brain knew it was Jameis Winston. The cover athlete nor any details of the game have been released, but the tradition of having a player who just made the jump to the NFL grace the cover will likely continue. Imagine having a current college athlete on the cover of a video game he’s in under the NCAA’s watch. It would be a beautiful disaster. So welcome to the next NCAA cover-man: Caleb Williams, who is as sure a bet to be the No. 1 overall selection in next year’s NFL Draft as anyone.
To have the best product possible, a face scan is possible for players, EA Sports told ESPN. There is no chance every player in the FBS gets one though since there are more than 100 players on every FBS college football roster and 133 member schools. How the game will handle real-time updates in the sport, such as the transfer portal, are unclear as well. Someone inside Electronic Arts has to know the game would be incomplete without its presence in the game. Same with recruiting becoming a spectacle, NIL and the eventual-expanded CFP.
Notre Dame won’t appear in the game?
As an avid player of the last edition, updating graphics and some mechanics are needed. Outside of that, for a video game from a decade ago, NCAA Football 14 holds up incredibly well. No college basketball video game held up for more than a couple years, with the last edition having an Oklahoma-donned Blake Griffin on the cover for its November 2009 release. A new edition featuring Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and Bronny James is needed more than ever now. Per EA, more than 120 FBS schools have committed to being in the game, including representatives of all 10 FBS conferences. The biggest holdout appears to be Notre Dame, with a school representative telling ESPN it’d been in touch with EA, but the Fighting Irish’s participation in the game wasn’t confirmed. And EA damn sure knows a college football video game wouldn’t be complete without the annoyance of South Bend, Indiana. Regardless of the gold helmets making it into the game, Wednesday was a huge win for college football fans. Now we have to wait a little over 12 months to get our hands on the product.