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Return of EA Sports College Football Video Game

Written by Kassandra Ramsey, P.L.L.C.

Image: Electronic Arts

· NCAA,College Football,Name Image Likeness

For college football fans, “It's in the Game” once again. Last Thursday, EA Sports made the grand announcement that the highly anticipated EA Sports College Football video game will be returning to an Xbox or PlayStation near you this summer. Since college athletes were granted the right to profit from their name, image, and likeness, college football fans have awaited the return of this game. Soon after college athletes were granted NIL rights, EA Sports announced that the game would return at some point in the future.

That time is finally here. This is a monumental moment in the college athletes’ rights movement as it is the culmination of the efforts college athletes’ rights advocates that took center stage in 2013. 2013 was the last time EA Sports released a college football video game. Until 2013, EA Sports produced college sports related video games annually. However, EA Sports discontinued college sports video games after the company settled the case that is known as O’Bannon v. NCAA.

The Case Blamed for Ending College Sports Video Games - O’Bannon v NCAA

Around 2009, former UCLA basketball standout Ed O’Bannon sued Electronic Arts (EA), the NCAA, and Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) after seeing his likeness in a college basketball video game. The game included the 1995 UCLA championship winning basketball team that O’Bannon was on. Although the avatar in the game did not have O’Bannon’s name, the avatar looked like O’Bannon, played for UCLA, and wore O’Bannon’s jersey number 31. O’Bannon never consented to the use of his likeness and never received a dime for it. This led O’Bannon to sue claiming that the NCAA’s amateurism rules precluding payment to current and former athletes for the use of their likeness was a violation of federal antitrust law. EA Sports settled the lawsuit and was willing to continue making the videogame and pay the players. However, the NCAA would not allow it as the case continued.

Accordingly, EA Sports inadvertently played a major role in the current college athletics landscape where college athletes can now license the use of their NIL. Although, college athletes were not granted NIL rights immediately after O'Bannon, the case led to NIL rights it laid the foundation by establishing that the NCAA’s rules were subject to federal antitrust law and that college athletes should be able to receive additional compensation up to the cost-of-attendance. College athletes who appeared in the EA Sports video games in 2013 and 2014 were compensated roughly $1,600.00 each.

How Much Money will the College Football Players Receive?

EA Sports College Football 25 is set to release this summer.

Fans of the game are excited as the game will include some of the features that fans looked forward to in the previous iterations. For example, it will include the Dynasty and Rode to Glory modes. However, this game may include a few new features that are indicative of the changes that have come to college athletics. For example, the game is likely to include the transfer portal and an expanded college football playoff.

However, the most notable and important change is that the game will include the name, image, and likeness of actual college football players who opt in to being included in the game. This is because EA Sports is allowed to pay the players for agreeing to be featured in the game. All 134 FBS college football teams are participating in the game. College football players have the option to decided if they would like to be included in the game. The players who opt in will receive $600.00 and a copy of the game. Players will remain in the game for their entire careers with the option to opt out of future editions. Players who are in the game for multiple years will be paid annually. Players who transfer will be compensated as long as they are on a roster. Players who choose not to opt in will be represented by a generic avatar.

Some athletes will have an opportunity to become ambassadors of the game and receive additional NIL compensation. For example, some athletes may enter deals with EA Sports to post the game on their social media or have an opportunity to participate in on campus promotions. Additionally, college athletes in other sports will also have an opportunity to enter promotional deals with EA Sports.

Players Have Already Began to Opt in

Many players have already opted to be included in the game. Roughly, 5,000 have reportedly opted into the game. While this is an exciting opportunity for many college football players, college football players should still exercise caution before entering the deal to ensure they are receiving their full value. Some have argued whether $600.00 and no royalties is enough compensation, especially for certain athletes who may be Heisman Trophy contenders.

Accordingly, any college football players considering this opportunity should review the deal carefully, with the help of an attorney or other professional service provider to ensure that the terms makes sense for them and their athletic reputation. Here, Kristi Dosh of the Business of College Sports does a great job of pointing out contract terms that the athletes should pay attention to when considering this deal. This opportunity is not one size fits all and the initial terms of the deal may not make sense for every player and players should realize that they may have negotiating power.


College and high school athletes have been granted the right to profit from their name, image, and likeness! Yayyyyyy!!! College and high school athletes can now enter NIL Deals. This is an exciting opportunity for college and high school athletes. However, there are certain topics that college and high school athletes and their parents need to know before entering any NIL Deal. Download by free NIL Contract Checklist for 5 contract terms to know! For more on college athletes' name, image, and likeness rights follow me on Twitter @esquire_coach and on Instagram and TikTok @the_esquirecoach. To receive updates from The Esquire Coach Blog directly to your email please subscribe below.