Every year that football season is upon us, I get excited. As a die-hard fan of the sport, nothing is more enjoyable to me than sitting on the couch all day as I watch my favorite teams go head-to-head from morning to midnight.
However, as football season approaches, so does another Madden, and with each year that passes, we are sadly reminded of the game that we all lost back in 2013.
That game is NCAA Football.
The collegiate edition of EA’s popular football series was one of the most successful titles that Electronic Arts had on their roster. EA released the game alongside its annual edition of Madden to amass a total revenue of over $1 billion dollars since the series launched back in 1998.
However, due to the controversy surrounding paying college athletes, creative mistakes on EA’s part, and a five-year-long legal battle, NCAA Football 14 is still the final entry in the series.
Just like that, a billion-dollar franchise had vanished.
Why The Series Ended
To understand why the yearly NCAA Football series was canceled, you must go all the way back to 2008.
After rival 2K Sports decided to cancel their College Hoops basketball series due to failed negotiations with the Collegiate Licensing Company (the company that owns the licensing rights to college teams), EA Sports swooped in to take sole possession of the market with their game, NCAA Basketball 09.
However, due to their basketball series selling vastly less than the NCAA Football games, EA attempted to boost the sales of NCAA Basketball 09 by including classic teams from the past in a special Tournament of Legends mode.
Rather than just featuring the current roster of athletes that schools had that year, EA decided to add classic teams from various decades that featured former players such as Michael Jordan.
Little did EA know that these decisions would begin the downfall of not only their basketball series, but their entire line of NCAA games, including NCAA Football.
One of the teams included in the Tournament of Legends in NCAA Basketball 09 was the 1995 National Champion UCLA Bruins. Included in that team was a player by the name of Ed O’Bannon, a Power Forward and the Player of the Year for that season.
When O’Bannon got word that the game had used his likeness without any permission, he began the lawsuit now known as O’Bannon V. NCAA.
The lawsuit alleged that EA used O’Bannon’s biographical information, jersey number, shooting style and other features that clearly depicted him and his teammates, but removed their names to avoid having to pay for using their image.
Removing the names of college players was nothing new to EA, in fact, every single NCAA game produced had never contained the real names of players due to the NCAA’s bylaws surrounding amateurism in college athletics (more on that later).
This began a five-year legal battle that would end EA’s NCAA Football series.