EA Sports bringing back college football video game as early as 2022

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The Telegraph

Golf’s leading authorities signalled their intention to rescue the future of the sport from the big hitters on Tuesday by unveiling proposals to rein in the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy. The game’s two governing bodies, the R&A and the US Golf Association, have paved the way for restrictions on equipment including limits on the length of drivers and the introduction of a standardised, tournament ball on the tours. Golf’s growing distance problem is causing great courses to be ruined The move is likely to leave DeChambeau’s plan to employ a 48-inch driver to overpower Augusta National at the Masters in April in tatters. It was the landmark day for which the purists – including the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods – had been waiting since the powers that be signalled last February that, with the “Distance Insights” project, they were ready at last to tackle the professional game’s length issue that their joint studies indicated was “critical to the future of the game”. The pandemic pressed pause on the progress, but it has resumed and has at last reached what is labelled the “solution phase”. With Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, confirming to Telegraph Sport on Tuesday that a radical overhaul of the professional game was all but inevitable – “it is highly unlikely that we will end up doing nothing” – it will now start collecting feedback regarding the potential use of a local rule that specifies the use of clubs and balls intended to result in shorter hitting distances. In the short term, comments have been sought on the proposal to introduce a local rule reducing the maximum non-putter club length from 48in to 46in. The deadline for this is March 4 and, as it is expected to go through, it will allow Augusta and every other tournament organiser to put a brake on the long hitters. Slumbers denied it was “individual specific”, but accepted that the big hitters out there could be “personalised in this”. Yet the big battle will surely come in the attempts of the R&A and USGA to persuade the equipment makers to review the overall conformance specifications for clubs and balls, including specifications that directly affect hitting distances. This means the ruling bodies want to research topics such as the limitation of ball efficiency, ball sizes and weights, making drivers smaller in volume and shorter, and reducing the spring-like effect in faces and moment of inertia in club heads. They have chosen to go down the “local rule” to ensure that golf continues to have one set of rules to which professionals and amateurs of all grades will adhere. “Local rules” are not part of the official rule book, but are a modification or addition of a rule that any tournament committee can adopt for a particular competition. The rules would, in fact, be different in practice and it would ultimately mean that, while the weekend hacker would still be able to use the best technology can offer – there is no appetite to alter things significantly at recreational level – the pros will face game-changing restrictions. Slumbers, though, does not see it that way. “The local rule could be applied on a much wider scale than the pro game, or the elite amateur game,” he said. “I think it’s misleading to say it is just about elite golf.” No doubt the lawyers will become, and are already involved, with the equipment makers desperate to protect their billion-dollar industry, but the hope is that agreement can be reached following the conclusion of the feedback stage in November. “This is a serious problem and this is the time for serious thinking and I am confident the game and its many facets can come together to do what is right for our sport,” Slumbers said. It is a complex subject, but Slumbers pointed out that, while they intend the conversations to be as in-depth as they are responsible, they should not drag on. The likes of DeChambeau are already threatening the 400-yard mark and there is an urgency to curtail the bombers to ensure great courses do not become obsolete and that the game does not become too one-dimensional. “There is the balance of skill and technology that we are trying to find because the game is in danger of losing that balance,” Slumbers said. “After the lockdown, the different tours, governing bodies, golf federations, golf unions and bodies such as Augusta and the PGA of America came together to ensure the sport could get back and running as effectively as possible. That gives me confidence in this regard.” Mike Davis, Slumbers’s counterpart at the USGA, added: “This is about long term, for the whole of the game. Golfers need to understand that this every-generation-hits-the- ball-farther is affecting the game negatively. The cost of this is being born by all golfers. We’re just trying to fit the game of golf back on golf courses.” ‘Local rule’ route is the perfect plan to thwart big hitters and manufacturers The R&A and United States Golf Association are far from stupid and are acutely aware that they will have a fight on their hands with the equipment makers with their proposals to reduce the hitting distances in the professional game. Yet if they were expecting this essentially to be a battle with the bombers on Tour, then Webb Simpson highlighted that even the plotters could be in opposition. Simpson, the world No 9, is one of the shorter hitters in the elite, standing at 114th in the PGA Tour’s driving distance stats, having failed to finish in the top 100 in the past six seasons. If the power of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy was suddenly curtailed, it would surely have to be good for Simpson’s chances of adding to the one major on his resume.

Everything you need to know about the return of EA Sports’ college football video game

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EA Sports is rebooting its college football series for Next Generation consoles, announcing Tuesday that it will end the hiatus the game has taken since then-Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson appeared on the cover of NCAA Football 14.

There’s still a lot to sort out about what the game will look like, what its structure will be and even when it will be available. But college football is (eventually) coming back to gaming consoles.

Here’s what we know and what we don’t.

Why is EA Sports bringing the video game back now?

Since the last edition of the game in the 2013 season, there has been discussion within EA Sports about relaunching it. At the time of its discontinuation, it was a very popular title, and its return remained high on the priority list at the company.

EA Sports actually dropped a few Easter eggs pointing to the possibility. In the past two editions of Madden, some college football programs were included as part of the “Face of the Franchise” story mode of the game. EA Sports vice president and general manager Daryl Holt told ESPN that while it wasn’t a conscious decision to do that as a test run for the return of a college football game, there was positive feedback and returns, particularly in those college markets.

“That was another just check mark to go – we know [fans] are itching for it and we know we can develop and deliver a great college football experience,” Holt said. “So why are we waiting?

“So the question may be not so much ‘why now’ versus ‘why not now?’”

EA Sports recently started putting together a strategy and development team, which led to Tuesday’s announcement.

When can I play the game?

To be determined.

At this point, no one from EA Sports would commit to when the game could return or even a date to announce a launch date. For now, consider this news to be a commitment for the game to return at some point.

One thing is certain, though: Holt said it won’t happen this year.

What will be in the game?

That’s still unclear. It’s very early in the process.

EA Sports is working with the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) – the licensing partner for many schools – on securing the use of the stadiums, uniforms, mascots, traditions and names for over 100 teams in the FBS. Holt said the game itself will be “a deep, immersive experience that has true wide-open game play for college football.” What that looks like is still to be determined and might depend on the continued technology on Next Gen gaming systems PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

It could have an eventual tie-in to Madden – in prior iterations, for example, you could import draft classes from NCAA Football into Madden. Holt said EA Sports is looking at things in terms of what is part of a football career, but the company is still in experimentation mode.

Holt said EA Sports is starting with the game play, making sure that is strong, then going from there.

“Whether that’s a reimagining or an evolution of things that were in the game before or new things and new ways to play, I don’t want to get into the details of what we’re already planning and what we’ll put in that,” Holt said. “But it will be something that our core fans, if they appreciated and loved NCAA 14, they will love this game because that’s just the starting point.”

Otto the Orange just might be returning to a video game, as EA Sports plans to relaunch its college football series. Elsa/Getty Images

Does the NCAA need to change its rules before the game can return?

No. Current NCAA rules prohibit EA Sports from paying players to use their names, images and likenesses in the game. If those rules are still in effect when the game is released, EA Sports plans to include real details such as team names, mascots and uniforms but not anything that would resemble the real players on those rosters.

EA Sports announced it would stop making its college football game in 2013 shortly before the company agreed to pay part of a reported $40 million to former college players to settle a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. The lawsuit argued that it was illegal for EA Sports to sell a game with characters that looked strikingly similar to real athletes without paying those athletes.

While O’Bannon was sometimes mistakenly blamed for the game’s demise, the company said at the time that it stopped production because the NCAA and some conferences were no longer interested in licensing their logos and names to the game makers, which prevented them from creating an authentic experience. Those schools are again willing to partner up with EA Sports. Holt didn’t comment on why those partnerships have been revived, but he insisted there is nothing that currently prevents EA Sports from producing the game.

How will the current debate around name, image and likeness (NIL) rules impact the game?

While real players don’t have to be included in the new version of the game, they could be included if future legislation makes it possible for college athletes to negotiate as a group. The NCAA – prompted by pressure from state and federal lawmakers – is in the process of changing its rules to provide athletes some opportunities to profit from endorsements in the future. It’s not yet clear if those new opportunities will include the ability to organize for group licensing deals.

For pro sports video games, the game maker typically negotiates with the league’s union on a price for the NIL rights of all players. The union then makes sure each player gets a piece of the total payment. The NCAA says players shouldn’t be allowed to form a union because they are students, not employees. While a traditional union isn’t essential to setting up the organization needed for collective bargaining, NCAA leaders have so far tried to steer clear of any kind of arrangement that would create a mechanism for athletes to negotiate as a group.

But the NCAA might not get to set the terms of future NIL rules. Congress is expected to address college sports reform and compensation in some way in the relatively near future – most likely before EA Sports would be ready to roll out its new game. At least two of the proposals that will be considered by the Senate aim to guarantee the right to collective bargaining for future college athletes. If either of those options is signed into law, the door would be open for EA Sports to negotiate with players to create more realistic rosters.

“We’ll just keep tabs on everything as it develops, and we’ll be ready,” Holt said.

What will the game be called?

The name is changing. Gone is the NCAA Football series name. In its place will be EA Sports College Football. That, Holt said, is the branding the company is working with and planning on using.

“It all starts really with where we see college football as going,” Holt said. “There’s a lot of things happening and there’s a lot of things happening in sports. EA Sports College Football gives us a name and a brand to kind of work around for some things that might evolve as well as what we’re focusing on really out of the gate, which is really the FBS Division I school and the road to the College Football Playoff and College Football Championship.

“So EA Sports College Football, we just felt, is the right name for the product for not only now but also as we move forward.”

What else still needs to be determined?

Holt said the early focus at EA Sports is on building out a team to develop the game and working on its design.

“Right now, it’s been more of a focus on the partnership with CLC, the design aspects, early on innovations that we’re working on that might have a long tail on them,” he said. “And then building a team and pulling the team together both internally and externally to make a great game.”

E.A. Sports Will Resurrect College Football Video Game

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The Electronic Arts college football video game franchise, long beloved by sports fans but paused indefinitely years ago when it was swept up in wrangling over the rights of student-athletes, will be revived, the game maker said Tuesday.

E.A. Sports did not announce a timeline for the release of the game, which was last published in 2013, but Cam Weber, a top executive, said Tuesday that the company was “eager to bring a new game to players in the next couple of years.”

Although scores of colleges stand to gain financially from the game’s return, players, at least for now, will not be paid, nor will their names or likenesses be used. But with the N.C.A.A. inching toward new rules on how students may profit off their fame, specific players could ultimately appear in the game, which, in a departure from much of its history, is not expected to carry the branding of the N.C.A.A.

Over the years, no consequence of the warring over players’ rights has resonated more broadly for college football fans than the demise of the E.A. college football games, which sold tens of millions of copies. Part of their appeal was their realism and the inclusion of the sport’s rituals, including mascots, fight songs and renderings of famous stadiums.