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Students lament over NCAA video games pulled from production

Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service | The NCAA videogame series allows players to play as their favorite college football teams similar to the Madden football games. The series was cancelled after a lawsuit was filed against the NCAA and EA sports

By Bryce Owen ’17

Sports and videogames go hand in hand with successful titles like Madden, FIFA and the NBA 2K series dominating the market for the past 20 years.

The games allow the player to play as their favorite professional teams, athletes and in some cases, coaches. But what about the fans of the collegiate level?

Collegiate athletics governed by the NCAA had a revenue of over $14.668 billion in 2014, according to the US Department of Education.

This would make collegiate sports the largest market, in terms of revenue, in the entire world, surpassing the NFL ($13 billion), MLB ($9.5 billion) and English Premier League ($5.3 billion), according to Market Watch.

The most lucrative collegiate sports, football and men’s basketball, produced $4.506 billion and $1.713 billion respectively.

Yet these sports do not have respective video games for fans to enjoy.

EA once released NCAA football and NCAA basketball video games just like their professional counterparts, but they were abruptly pulled in 2014.

“It was a shame, they were a real immersive college sports experience,” said Michael Rowe ’18.

This is mostly due to the class action lawsuit Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA, which argued that NCAA athletes should be compensated for the use of their image and likeness in the games.

“I used to like playing NCAA football and basketball more than Madden and NBA 2K,” said Zach McCarthy ’17 “I think the classic college stadiums are fun to play in,”

O’Bannon, who was a basketball player at UCLA in the mid 1990s, sued on the basis that the player’s image, height, weight, likeness and other similarities were used without players’ consent or compensation.

EA had used players’ likeness and image particularly in the cover images of the game featuring players like Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.

“I always thought it was fun to play as collegiate athletes,” McCarthy said.

This, combined with the in-game player having the same number, height, weight, dominant hand, hairstyle and body type, leads players to think they are playing as their favorite athlete.

“It was fun to play as your favorite team and actually be able to be apart of the experience,” Rowe said.

In 2014, the presiding judge ruled that withholding payments to athletes violated antitrust laws and that schools should be allowed to offer full attendance cost scholarships and cover other living expenses for athletes.

According to the NCAA, college athletes are considered amateurs, meaning that they cannot receive payment or endorsement while participating.

This led to a whole topic of debate surrounding the legality of how the NCAA defines “amateurs.”

The NCAA appealed the results to the Supreme Court in hopes that the case might be overturned.

The supreme court recently said it would not be taking up the case, upsetting many advocates for the video game series.

McCarthy said he was disappointed that the game is no longer being manufactured, but was optimistic that it might make a comeback.

“I hope that they are able to bring the franchise back in the future,” McCarthysaid.