College football fans and gamers hoping to relive the glory days of 2013 will have to wait a bit longer to play the long-awaited college football title revival from EA Sports. On Tuesday, the company announced that its upcoming college football video game should be released in the summer of 2024, a full year after the expected July 2023 release date fans have had marked on their calendars for over a year.
EA Sports’ vice president and general manager, Daryl Holt, spoke with ESPN’s Michael Rothstein recently to break the news. In fairness, the 2023 timeline was never officially announced by the game publisher and fans were operating on conjecture alone.
“That’s the best date for us to bring the game that we think is going to meet or exceed our player expectations,” Holt said. “And cover the breadth and scale of what we want in the game. We’re trying to build a very immersive college football experience.”
EA Sports hasn’t released a college football title since 2013, when Michigan‘s Denard Robinson appeared on the cover. Since that game came out, Robinson tried his hand at an NFL career, played in the Alliance of American Football and is now back at U of M as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel.
The series came to an unfortunate end after licensing agreements fell through following Ed O’Bannon’s high-profile lawsuit regarding name, image and likeness. The lawsuit itself didn’t end the game’s existence, but the NCAA’s unwillingness to pay players for use of their NIL did. EA would have paid the players to use their models in-game, but the timing wasn’t right for all of that.
A lot has changed since then, though.
Several players throughout college football are receiving upwards of a million dollars a year in NIL deals, including Florida’s Anthony Richardson. The introduction of NIL immediately brought up the conversation of reviving the NCAA video game series, and now there’s a public announcement of when gamers should expect to get a new game.
It’s unknown whether players’ likenesses will be used in-game, but Holt said they are working on it. 120 FBS programs are set to appear in the game with the potential for more to be added during development. There’s hope that all 131 teams will eventually sign deals with EA Sports, and it’s possible that FCS and HBCUs join as well.
As of now, dynasty mode is the only game mode that is confirmed to return to the series. Most fans are hoping for the return of the Road to Glory mode that allowed players to create their own college football star and play through a four-year high school career on their favorite team. It should be expected that EA Sports also adds an Ultimate Team mode, a game mode made popular in the Madden and FIFA franchises that bring in a ton of money to the company through microtransactions.
There’s a bit of danger in bringing a fully developed Ultimate Team mode into this game as fans of the Madden franchise can confirm that the development team has given a lopsided amount of attention to its cash cow rather than improving other areas of the game.
That’s why pushing things back a year is a good thing. Giving the team the time it needs to make sure this game is up to the standards of fans that have been waiting a decade for its return is paramount. A sub-par project might still make the money needed to move forward with future editions of the game, but it will leave the fan base extremely disappointed and the sports video game community has been through enough empty promises already.
Hopefully, this extra year will give EA Sports enough time to put out a quality product and the fans will rejoice come summer 2024.
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