According to multiple reports this afternoon, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has decided not to renew its partnership with video game giant EA Sports beyond 2014. In short, this means that the newest incarnation in the highly-popular series, EA Sports NCAA Football 2014, will be last in a long-running series.
Immediately, speculation flooded Twitter that this would mean the death of college football video gaming since the NCAA would no longer be attached to it. This is far, far from the truth.
The reality is the NCAA does not directly control the issues which would surround the development of a new video gaming franchise apart from EA Sports which would likely include licensing of logos and trademarks, player likenesses and the look and feel of the game. This type of intellectual property is handled by an NCAA sub-contractor, the Collegiate Licensing Corporation (CLC).
CLC works hand-in-hand with NCAA institutions to ensure their brand marks and logos aren’t compromised in any way and if they are, to take action to prevent further abuse. While EA Sports won’t have the ability to use the NCAA logo and brand marks going forward, this doesn’t mean they can’t, with CLC’s blessing, continue to produce a game very similar to the look and feel of the NCAA Football series that just wouldn’t include any reference to the NCAA.
On the flipside, a golden opportunity has just been created for companies like 2K Sports who have made forays into college football gaming in the past, but eventually backed away due to EA’s dominance in the genre. 2K and other startups with the capital to do so could certainly make it both cost-prohibitive and tenuous for EA to continue trying to pursue a college football game if they so desired.
Given the pending “Ed O’Bannon Case” dealing with player likenesses and the revenue which could be shared with former players given their use, it was a no-brainer for the NCAA to back away when they did. It’s a business decision, plain and simple, as short-sighted as it may appear on the surface.
One company’s decision to move on always opens the door for another, and this door is now wide open.
Who will take advantage of it?