EA Sports has announced that it will not be publishing a college football title in 2014, and the company is unsure about the franchise's future. EA has been mired in the legal battle between the NCAA and student-athletes who says the college organization is profiting off their likenesses without compensation.
"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, wrote EA Sports general manager of American Football Cam Weber in a post on the official EA blog.
"We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. For our part, we are working to settle the lawsuits with the student-athletes. 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 lawsuits filed by former college athletes against Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company reached a settlement recently, according to a document filed today with the U.S. District Court of California. The NCAA is still on the hook for antitrust and right-of-publicity lawsuits as they are not affected by this settlement.
"Today's settlement is a game-changer because, for the first time, student-athletes suiting up to play this weekend are going to be paid for the use of their likenesses," said sports law attorney Eugene R. Egdorf of The Lanier Law Firm, who negotiated the settlement. "We view this as the first step toward our ultimate goal of making sure all student-athletes can claim their fair share of the billions of dollars generated each year by college sports."
Earlier this year, the NCAA decided not to renew its contract with EA when that deal ends on June 2014. At the time, EA Sports boss and current EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that the company would continue to publish college football games.
Update: It's been revealed today by The New York Times that the settlement mentioned above has cost EA Sports and the CLC $40 million. It's not been stated yet how the money will be divided.