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EA's College Football revival will pay FBS players for their likeness

Real-world college football players now have the opportunity to get paid for being playable in EA Sports' revival of its College Football sub-series.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 17, 2023

2 Min Read
Cover art for EA Sports' NCAA Football 14 featuring Denard Robinson.

EA Sports' upcoming college football-focused game will allow real-life players to be featured in the game. Per ESPN, a contract between the publisher and OneTeam Partners has been struck to "facilitate collegiate athletes' names and likenesses" into the title. 

The 2024 game, dubbed EA Sports College Footballwill mark the first new entry of the sub-series in nearly a decade. EA previously clashed with the NCAA over properly compensating college players back in 2014. 

When EA announced a new College Football game was in the works back in 2021, it was said at the time that real world players couldn't be featured. With how real athletes are often the draw of these sports games (several of which are made by EA), the turnaround here is pretty significant.

Under the new agreement, all college players that are eligible under the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) can opt-in to have their likenesses in the 2024 game. Those who accept will be financially compensated (for a currently undisclosed amount), and those who don't will have a generic in-game avatar and player stand in for them.

A representative for EA Sports told ESPN that the aim was to be "as inclusive and equitable as possible." As ESPN notes, FBS eligibility covers over 120 schools and "thousands" of current students, and an representative acknowledged not every player will be facescanned into the game. 

OneTeam's website further detailed that if individual sales cannot be properly identified, then revenue will be "divided equally among the athletes included in each licensing program."

EA needs all the sports and goodwill it can get

Next year's release of EA Sports College Football is particularly important for EA. It'll be another sports game to bear the "EA Sports" moniker in its title, following this year's EA Sports FC.

The brand shifting towards sports like soccer and college football shows that EA wants audiences to associate games with the company rather than a specific sports league such as FIFA or the NCAA. EA views its sports titles as live service offerings, which has further driven the choice to rebrand. 

Since it'll be 11 years since the last College Football game, EA gets the chance to bill this 2024 title as a "long-awaited return", and get good publicity with its likeness compensation. When colleges come out and voice their support for the deal, college ball fans will turn their eye to this new game.

So far, Tulane University is one of the first schools to say they'll opt into the College Football deal. Athletic director Troy Dannen told ESPN that it was "critical" for student athletes to benefit from the new sports game before the New Orleans school participated. 

"Given the fact that this is indeed going to happen, we're fully signing off and eager to be a part of the game," said Dannen.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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