The Future of Sports and Video Games

You may only recognize the titles I mention in this column as your favorite games. You might otherwise know them as gifts you buy for your kids at Christmas, but it sort of affects you, too, if that’s the case.

You might not see these games much longer.

Last Sunday, I mentioned that former collegiate athletes (and possibly some current ones, since the NCAA said they won’t punish any still active who join in) have a class action out because they feel their likenesses were used in the NCAA Football games that make up one of the largest revenue streams for EA Sports. Their argument is that they should get something from it because the company is making money off of their abilities.

Well, this past week, the NCAA announced they were not renewing their contract with EA Sports, which ends in 2014. There are probably two reasons for this. The first is that lawsuit. The second is that, as a company, over the past few years Electronic Arts has been awful. Their reputation in the gaming community could have an effect on sales.

Lots of folks are afraid the NCAA games, which as mentioned are top sellers, might end. I’d find it highly more likely that the next contract the NCAA signs would be with 2K Sports, the company that currently puts out NBA and MLB games. 2K Sports is on the rise, picking up more sports franchises in fact. Earlier this year, the company bought the rights to the WWE wrestling games from THQ, which is completely broke. Taking valuable franchises from failing companies seems to be something they like to do, and I fully expect them to try it here.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if talks had already started. The question of the lawsuit still hangs in the air, however. Will these athletes still want to get paid? Of course they will. It’s a matter now of the NCAA deciding whether or not it wants that trouble. They probably don’t, but again I have to say kudos to them for letting current athletes get involved in the lawsuit without any punishment. I do have a solution for whatever company picks up the series, though.

When you sign a contract with the NCAA, have part of it say that a percentage of the proceeds go to the universities represented in the game. That money is to be used solely for football scholarships. The kids get paid and everyone gets money.

That, of course, won’t happen because it probably makes too much sense.

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One thought on “The Future of Sports and Video Games

  1. Good work, Joe.

    Of course, this opens up questions about how much money the NCAA, ESPN and others make by using college athletes’ “likenesses,” while the athletes aren’t paid (outside of scholarships) but yours is a fair, reasonable compromise that, as you said, makes too much sense to be implemented.

    Oh, and you forgot basketball programs, too. Or am I the only person who owns NCAA March Madness 2005? And if I am, that means it’s definitely worth more than the $2 EB Games offered me when I tried to trade it in.

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