EA to drop NCAA Football next year after lawsuit settlement

Former college athletes sued the game maker, accusing it of using their likenesses without their permission.

Screenshot from EA's College Football game. EA

The future of EA's NCAA Football video game franchise is in doubt after the settlement of a series of lawsuits filed by former college athletes who accused the company of using their likenesses in the game without their permission.

The game publisher announced the settlements Thursday, adding that it would forgo creating a new game of the popular game series next year. Collegiate Licensing Company, which holds the trademark licensing rights for most US colleges and universities, also settled, leaving the NCAA as the lone defendant in the lawsuits.

The initial class action lawsuit, which was filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, sought millions of dollars in revenue generated by the games bearing their likenesses without their permission or compensation. While the games did not use players' names, game character used the same jersey numbers, appearances, and bio information.

Terms of the settlement, which still requires the approval of the US District Court for Northern California, were not revealed.

Cam Weber, the general manager of American football for EA Sports, announced after the settlement was revealed Thursday that it would not publish a new edition of the college football game in 2014 and said the company was evaluating its plan for the future of the franchise.

"This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year," Weber said in a statement.

"We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football," Weber said. "The ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences have left us in a difficult position -- one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience, which is the very foundation of EA Sports games."

EA's settlement comes after the NCAA's decision in July not to renew a licensing agreement for its name and logo for EA's football game.

 

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