Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big News! NCAA Ending Gaming Deal with EA

That’s…wow. For those who have been living in a hole for the past 20 years, EA basically owns the sports market. Football (U.S. and the international game of football), Basketball, Baseball, you name it. The series began in 1997 with NCAA Football 98 and it has been successful ever since. Now the NCAA is citing legal and business concerns, and that seems reasonable. As a player in the NCAA you can not earn income. They are very strict on how players are expected to act and portrayed, and that includes no licensing deals or kickbacks. So part of the NCAA brand of games is to keep the physical football, basketball, soccer, etc. players out of the game. So no using their names and likenesses. The cover art are former sportsmen who are no longer NCAA eligible due to graduation, or moving to the big leagues.

EA has had legal issues with the NCAA and past players for their products. One such example I posted back in 2010 where EA was claiming the First Amendment for being able to use someone’s likeness because a person’s image is not copyrighted, therefore they can legally use it freely. EA didn’t win that one. In fact, they’re still working on the appeals.

In a statement about its decision regarding EA, the NCAA said: "We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA."

To Note: This removes the NCAA name a, logo, and rights from the EA line. Individual schools can still work with EA to develop games under their own decorum. But! Any athlete in the NCAA cannot have their name or likeness used in said games because it could band the player from ever performing in sports again.

And of course EA and the CLC will have a plan B ready for us. Both have issued statements that EA will continue to produce college football games featuring the teams and leagues customers expect to see. Will the NCAA allow their brand to be used by another company? Who knows. The future is a big question mark right now as the NCAA work out the legal logistics that, they hope, won’t force them into financial hardship. It’s just a matter of sitting, waiting, and seeing how EA will proceed. When legal fees outweigh the returns on game sales, that says a lot.

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