EA Sports’s long standing exclusive contract with the NCAA and the CLC has officially come to an end. Their current contract with both organizations will be up in 2014, and won’t be continued as a result of a settlement in which they agreed to end all ‘exclusive’ contracts for 5 years. Note the emphasis on exclusive, because other non-exclusive contracts are potentially fair game.
In the lawsuit, EA was accused of forming monopoly-like contracts with the NCAA, CLC, and AFL, and then using these trademarks in football games to overcharge consumers. EA denies such claims, although they agreed to the $27 million dollar settlement and other terms.
Does this mean that EA can’t make college football games?
Not in the least.This only means that EA Sports cannot use the NCAA name and logo, or carry the (at this point) superficial title of ‘exclusive’ in its future games. Yet, this does little to stop them from continuing to dominate in what they do best, as it doesn’t prohibit them from using college or university team names, uniforms, colors, mascots, stadiums, and more since they are covered with their agreement with the CLC.
The NCAA explained:
“Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game.”
What’s more, EA is already planing to produce a game–without the NCAA–for the next-gen console in the coming year. In a statement on their blog EA assured their sports fans:
“EA SPORTS will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks. Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Company is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature the college teams, conferences and all the innovation fans expect from EA SPORTS.”
Their latest game with the NCAA, NCAA Football 14, launched last week and marks a closing door for the partnership. Given the fact EA has had exclusive reins on the trademarks for a while, having a more generic name will not likely influence any future game’s success.