EA Sports College Football slated for launch in summer 2023
EA Sports has confirmed the return of EA Sports College Football. After canning the game following its last release in 2013, the world-renowned games publisher received significant backlash from college football fans but the return of a major sports franchise is now firmly on the cards.
Documents leaked from the joint proposal between EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC) submitted to FBS schools state that the game is due for release in summer 2023, with a new four-year deal resulting in four game releases from July 2023 to June 2027. The proposals show that EA Sports’ newest project still has a long way down the road to go. Player likenesses and school licenses are yet to be fully approved. However, the success of classic versions of NCAA Football stateside – in the absence of new releases – has given EA Sports food for thought. GameStop has been able to charge upwards of $70 for NCAA Football on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
College football has been in the hearts and minds of gridiron fans more recently too, as the NCAAF season draws to an exciting finale. The intriguing prospect of a 2018 rematch in the National Championship final between Alabama and Georgia has seen college football predictions go through the roof, with NCAAF handicappers frantically weighing up Georgia’s chances of landing their first National Championship since 1980. Analysis of the biggest NCAAF games is what college football fans do best but playing college football video games weighs in a close second. That’s why so many are excited about the decision to bring back EA Sports’ college football game to our screens almost a decade after its most recent release.
An EA Sports College Football 2022 release looks highly unlikely
EA Sports vice president and general manager Daryl Holt moved to curb expectations from gridiron fans of a launch in 2022, in time for the 2022/23 season. In an interview with ESPN, Holt insisted the studio did not have a date in mind to reveal its likely return. The game is still in its early stages of development, with the game being primarily built by the Electronic Arts’ Orlando-based studio – the same one that oversees the hugely successful EA Madden franchise.
Taking a leaf out of EA Madden’s book, Madden 21 was launched in late August 2020, just a matter of days before the launch of the 2020/21 NFL season. This means July-August 2023 is the most likely release date for EA Sports College Football. In announcing the return of the NCAAF video game franchise, EA Sports said it was “blown away” by the “passion for college football” among fans.
In cleverly partnering with CLC, EA Sports has the potential to bring more than 100 NCAAF teams into the game, with their traditions, uniforms, and playbooks all likely to be licensed within the new release. At the time of writing, Notre Dame is one of few high-profile colleges unlikely to provide its “name, logos and other branding property to EA Sports”. It does state that this stance could change providing “new rules” arrive determining “whether athletes will be able to receive a cut of the game’s profits are finalized”. Northwestern University has taken a similar stance, as has Tulane, which insists it will “always be the biggest advocates for our student-athletes”.
Looking back at the most successful college football game franchises
The history of college football video games dates to Bill Walsh College Football. The first release was in 1993 on the Nintendo Super NES, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega CD. This was followed by a sequel in 1994, ahead of the 1994/95 NCAAF season. Computer Gaming World praised the original Bill Walsh College Football for the quality of its AI, which it described as being “head and shoulders above any other sports game”.
EA’s Madden NFL was later released and by 1996 this became the highest-selling sports video game, with the franchise shifting over eight million units. Although the NCAA Football release does not rival Madden in the commercial stakes, it certainly rivals it in the nostalgia and enjoyment stakes, with football fans enjoying taking control of the next big things in the world of NFL.