EA Sports settles student athlete lawsuits, ends 20 years of college football games

ea settles all student athlete lawsuits and ends two decades of college football games ncaa 14

After two decades of producing college football games, Electronic Arts announced that it is canceling its college football series effective immediately. The news comes hours after EA also confirmed that it has settled all lawsuits against it from current and former student-athletes, although terms were not disclosed.

“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,” General Manager of American Football for EA Sports Cam Weber wrote in the post confirming the franchise’s cancellation. “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.”

The cancellation isn’t entirely surprising. Both legal and licensing complications began to mount, and EA lost its most powerful partner in the NCAA, the namesake of its college football games.

The NCAA announced in July 2013 that it would no longer license its name or likeness to EA Sports due to the “current business climate and costs of litigation.” EA Sports vowed to continue the franchise without the NCAA’s support and, soon after the split, signed a three-year deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company (or CLC), the group that controls the marketing for over 200 schools, as well as athletic conferences, and the Bowl Games. EA would still require the approval of the individual conferences and schools, however, and that proved to be trickier.

In August, the Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC all elected to not allow EA Sports to use their names or likenesses, and several other conferences were reported to be mulling their options.

NCAA Football coverBut while the licensing was certainly a factor in the decision to cancel the game, in the end it was more a question of leaving the series open to further litigation.

“We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football,” Weber wrote. “Just like companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel, we follow rules that are set by the NCAA – but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes. For our part, we are working to settle the lawsuits with the student-athletes.”

EA, along with the CLC and NCAA, was named as a defendant in a lawsuit started by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. O’Bannon and several other current and former student-athletes that later joined the suit claim that the organizations unlawfully made a profit off of their likenesses. Meanwhile, EA, the CLC, and the NCAA claimed that they are protected under the First Amendment. A judge is currently determining if the case can become a class action lawsuit.

Shortly before the announcement that EA Sports would be cancelling its NCAA Football series, EA and the CLC settled all outstanding lawsuits brought against them by current and former players; specific terms were not released. That leaves the NCAA as the sole defendant, and it has vowed to fight the lawsuits all the way to the Supreme Court.

“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.”

Weber’s statement does leave the door open for the series to return at some point in the future, but after years of messy lawsuits, EA Sports can end the franchise now and walk away clean.

The cancellation marks the end of 20 years of games. EA’s college football franchise first appeared in 1993 as Bill Walsh College Football for the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Sega CD. It would retain the “Bill Walsh” moniker for one more year before spending two years as “College Football USA.” In 1997 it began using the NCAA license for NCAA Football 98, and it retained that title through this year’s NCAA Football 14.

The timing of the cancellation, as well as the settlement of the lawsuits, comes at an opportune – and possibly not coincidental – time. EA recently named former EA Sports exec Andrew Wilson as its new CEO. While this does mean the end of a popular franchise, it also ends lawsuits that would have cost the company a fortune in legal fees, especially if it ended up going to the Supreme Court as the NCAA vowed.

As for the team of developers dedicated to putting out annual college football games for EA, Weber wrote that EA hopes to find new positions for them.

“We are working to retain the talented people who are part of the team by placing them elsewhere within the EA Sports organization.”


Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.

Sharing your best gameplay moments is quick and easy on the Xbox One

The current generation of consoles make it easier than ever to share your gaming highlights with the world. Here's a quick guide on how you can record a gameplay video on Xbox One.

Blizzard’s latest hiring spree is likely for the unannounced ‘Diablo 4’

Activision Blizzard is hiring for more than a dozen positions on unannounced Diablo projects. Some of the roles are likely for the unannounced Diablo 4, the next mainline entry in the series.

Everything we know about 'Red Dead Online', including the new mode Gun Rush

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.

Fortnite V-Bucks being used by criminals for money laundering on dark web

Criminals are using Fortnite's V-Bucks for money laundering schemes on the dark web. Epic Games, apparently, is not doing enough to prevent the game from being used for the illegal activity.

Relive the 8-bit gaming era with the best NES emulators for Android and PC

For years prior to the release of the NES Classic, emulators have offered a means to every NES game ever created without needing the console. Here are the best NES emulators for Android and PC.

Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector’s Edition comes with a life-size Scorpion mask

The Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector's Edition will come with a human-sized replica of the mask of Scorpion, one of the most iconic fighters of the series. NetherRealm Studios has also announced the game's preorder bonuses.

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!