OT: College Football video games coming back

Submitted by BeatOSU52 on April 23rd, 2018 at 1:00 PM

I know there's always been some talk on here about people missing the days of college football games which they stopped making since NCAA College football 2014.    It became official just a bit ago regarding that apparently changing.  


-It won't be EA making it this time, but rather Gridiron Champions .

-It's set to release not until some time in 2020.

-Football game by having 126 fictional teams. However, gamers will have the option of customizing their teams in the game, allowing for the option to recreate official teams right down to the player names.






April 23rd, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

Kinda surprised they’re not worried about litigation destroying this. You can’t create a product that is designed wholly to allow users to infringe on others’ IP and expect to be able to shield yourself from liability (i.e. Napster). When the game’s entire marketability will come from users’ entering player likenesses, the players will sue, an and they have a decent precedent to win after O’bannon.


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:08 PM ^

I don't think this infringes on anyone's IP.  If you can't do this, you should never be able to create a game with any ability to customize.  And in fact, if you did give players in your game actual names, you'd better be darn sure nobody has that exact name, or else they could sue for IP infringement.  

And Madden would probably also be due for a lawsuit, since you have the ability to create players in that game.  Really, any game out there today could be sued if you can customize players.  

At some point common sense needs to take over from the lawyers.  


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:23 PM ^

It’s not the mere fact of customizability—it’s the fact that, presumably, the game would clearly be providing the frame for infringing (126 teams, schedules that likely align to current CFB, conferences that likely fit with current ones once teams are renamed, etc). My guess is that it would be easy to demonstrate that the whole point is facilitating the insertion of real players’ likenesses (unlike madden) and that the game would have no real market value without inserting those likenesses (also unlike madden)

Pepto Bismol

April 23rd, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

It's obvious to you that that's what you would do with it. But if it comes to pass, this will be nowhere near the first sports video game to use fictitious rosters and teams. And it's nowhere near the first sports video game to allow customization.

I'm not sure how you, as LJ put it, "easily demonstrate" the company's intent if the game is playable out of the box and does not advertise itself to be an NCAA ripoff.

How do you prove intent? How do you prove that the game maker wants the end user to violate NCAA trademarks?  How do you prove a teenager will choose to recreate Shea Patterson and not themselves?

If the concept of video game customization is illegal, and that's what you're talkiing about here, then every sports video game in existence since about NHL '95 for Sega Genesis needs to be pulled off the shelves immediately.

Big Boutros

April 23rd, 2018 at 1:48 PM ^

This project was shelved two years ago. Most people concluded it was a scam.

Maybe they will actually release a "game" but it won't be worth playing, let alone paying for.

Pepto Bismol

April 23rd, 2018 at 2:08 PM ^

This will probably make this company a bunch of money regardless of quality.  There are a ton of disgruntled NCAA fans who will give this a whirl, even if only to find out that it sucks.  As somebody who still farts around on NCAA '14 here and there, I can't imagine this will meet expectations. Not only do you have to customize rosters and uniforms, but if that goes well, you're still missing stadiums, bowls and sponsorships, fight songs, conference names, etc.   Not that all of that is necessary, but the college feel was what made that game special compared to Madden and I don't know how you duplicate that with generic elements. 

I will never understand why EA didn't (and STILL doesn't) just strip the rosters after the Ed O'Bannon fiasco and keep truckin'. They had everything important in that game. Just remove the "likeness" of the players and let's go.  Those who want real guys can create them like this game will undoubtedly allow. Those who never really cared about actual rosters anyway (hand raised) would lose nothing.

Ex-college guys in that settlement got paid a lousy $1,200 on average two years ago. Some as little as $58. That money's long gone. Hope it was worth it.


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:14 PM ^

The sec won’t allow “there” brand in a game ever again. I’m almost positive the big ten took the same stance a few years ago as well. Very hard to have a college football game with your two biggest conferences being generic knock offs.


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:50 PM ^

The O’Bannon case was about way more than just a settlement payout. It was about establishing a case history that showed athletes being routinely exploited and begin to build the case that they should be able to make money off their own likeness and that while the schools drive a lot of the value individual players also drive the value.

Section 1.8

April 23rd, 2018 at 2:17 PM ^

The next time that the "Why can't college players get paid?" argument comes up, I'll remember this thread, and that I said, "Those video games are the really objectionable exploitation; don't do that in the first place, and then nobody needs to worry about how players are being exploited for things like video games."

If Michigan hasn't yet opposed any use of any of its trademarks in connection with this, they should.


Hold This L

April 23rd, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

I think it would be awesome to be in a video game even if I wasn’t paid for it. Ed O’Bannon was mad because he was washed up and never panned out. He never thought of a backup plan for basketball so had to get the money where he could. Don’t think this “exploits” the student athletes at all. Seriously why do people who aren’t the athletes give a fuck? I would give my left but to be offered a full ride scholarship to play sports for these institutions. Also considering for b-ball, football, and probably hockey the athletes don’t need nearly the GPA that regular students do to get in. Not saying there aren’t guy who would get in regardless but I know some Michigan football players I went to high school with that were dumb as rocks.

Section 1.8

April 23rd, 2018 at 4:05 PM ^

The day that players start getting paid, is the day that I pack it in, and go golfing on fall Saturdays.  I'd be a whole lot happier, if we substantially de-professionalized all of college athletics.  Scale back the arms race on recruiting, expenses, early departures, etc., by about 1000%. 

The Ivy League is my model for college football.  No athletic scholarships; real student-athletes, and best of all, a 10-game season where they start after Labor Day, end before Thanksgiving, and play everybody else in the Conference.


April 23rd, 2018 at 3:44 PM ^

You're missing the point. Thoes games made a lot of money and EA made a SHIT ton of money off the player's backs (likeness, number, position, stats, etc) and the student saw a big fat 0% of it. It has zero to do with whether the players care or not, or how much they play or how well they do in school. It mattered how much money the game was generating and how little (zero percent) went back to the players.


April 23rd, 2018 at 4:17 PM ^

And the ivy league and their tv contract and fanbases and stadium sizes show that not enough people care if the players aren't the elite of available. And the ivy league still has exemptions for athletes and recruits.

People care about college sports partly because of the connection to the school but they also like watching good games.  Michigan has a 100k stadium because they won a ton of games by having the best players, not because of the collegial atmosphere of the time. The players matter.

Section 1.8

April 23rd, 2018 at 4:40 PM ^

Michigan Stadium was built before there was an NFL as we know it.  And, it was built before college football was anything like it is now.

Don't get me wrong; winning college football games has been the highest priority for Michigan for more than 100 years.  They want to win at Yale, and at Harvard and Dartmouth and Princeton too.  It's a competitive league; just different.

They made a decision a long time ago, to operate a different kind of league, and game.  

I wouldn't want Michigan to unilaterally disarm, of course.  I just find the Ivy League more aeshtetically pleasing on many dimensions.



April 23rd, 2018 at 5:01 PM ^

Right they want to win but it was a different time. People want to win high school games too, that doesn't mean people will pay to watch it.  People aren't interested in the ivy league. The NFL exists now, a fair percentage of players coming out of high school still have the nfl as their dream and want to go to a place that will allow them to prepare for the nfl. Those facilities might be full of things they don't need but the elite equipment/trainers/nutrition/etc all costs a lot of money and is valuable. 

Times are different, I don't think college athletics could ever go back to the way people remember it because it isn't feasible. But thats obviously just my opinion.


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:51 PM ^

so this is something they could have done in 2015? Eh. The gameplay better be on point becuase I'm not wasting time uploading 120+ custom teams every time I want to start a new season/dynasty. We shall see.


April 23rd, 2018 at 3:45 PM ^

I'd like to add a tl:dr to this item, since it's near and dear to my heart.

In the end, O'Bannon lost his suit. Essentially, it was a class-action suit against the NCAA, challenging their control over the ability of athletes to receive compensation for their likeness.

This was an anti-trust suit. Initially, O'Bannon won, and the trial judge determined that the NCAA unfairly deprived him and others of the ability to market their own rights. A financial settlement was suggested.

The NCAA appealed and won. For the same reason schools can work together and offer television rights. There is an anti-trust exemption for athletic leagues. O'Bannon appealed to the Supreme Court, which denied the application. Case over.

The EA part is separate. EA paid the NCAA for "exclusive" rights to player likenesses. The courts never resolved whether EA was at fault. EA settled their part of the case for $40 million, divided between the players joining the suit and their lawyers.

I like EA. My experiences working with the company were very positive. They treated me very well and I have nothing but good things to say about the way they go about making games.

However, I'm not a big fan of the licensing paradigm and EA's role in perpetuating this concept. EA benefits enormously from licensing because it can negotiate "exclusive" licenses. The limited supply of a certain type of license drives out competition. How many different types of sports games do we have today as compared to back when the video game industry was a lot smaller?

So, what is a license and what is a likeness? That's tricky. Fantasy leagues have been sued over player names and statistics. Those suits went nowhere. What about games like Strat-O-Matic? They aren't licensed. Presumably because player pictures aren't included.

From the team perspective, team names are not trademarks, but nicknames are. "The Michigan Wolverines," therefore, is a protected trademark uniquely identifying our school and their sports teams. A game could not call a team the Michigan Wolverines without violating that trademark. However, that trademark does not extend to all potential sports teams in the state of Michigan or even in Ann Arbor. You could call a team "Michigan" or "The Michigan Killer Weasels" and the university could not sue. No more than the state of Michigan could sue the university for appropriating the name of the state.

Copyright is different and more absolute. Any design, like the Block M and its pages of explanations and drawings, is copyrighted as an original work. You can't use that without permission and the law is rather easy to follow.

A person's name cannot be trademarked. However, a person has a right to his "likeness" in the sense that athletes can market endorsements. EA can't put Denard Robinson on the cover of its game without some sort of arrangement (the fact that the NCAA could put this together without Robinson's permission is the heart of the O'Bannon case).

The arrangement itself - the concept that athletes have a right to control endorsements - is covered by the Lanham Act. No company can imply that a player endorses its product without permission. However, inclusion is not endorsement, though this has never been tested in the courts. The fact that Strat-O-Matic still exists after decades is an indication that Lanham would hold.

Finally... our own James Duderstadt had this to say about the NCAA:

"(in) a sense, the NCAA's objective is to preserve the brand so that it provides revenue primarily for a small number of people who get very, very rich on the exploitation of young students who really lose opportunities for their futures. ... And that's what's corrupt about it. The regulations are designed to protect the brand, to protect the playing level and keep it exciting, not to protect the student athletes."


This story also has an interesting discussion of what a likeness might include, and whether EA should be able to license that. I don't know where a suit based on that would go, and EA has every interest in preventing that from happening, because they want that barrier to entry.