EA Sports: College Football Game on track for summer release after settlement

Jeremy Crabtreeby:Jeremy Crabtree11/30/23


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EA Sports’ upcoming college football game has one less hurdle in its production path.

The BrandR Group (TBG) and OneTeam Partners announced Thursday they reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit regarding EA Sports.

TBG originally filed a suit in June against EA Sports in the Northern District of California for tortious interference.

Earlier this year, the video gaming brand contracted OneTeam Partners to facilitate college athletes’ likeness for its upcoming 2024 EA Sports College Football video game.

TBG – which facilitates group licensing opportunities on behalf of student-athletes and represents more than 54 Division I institutions – originally argued EA Sports’ relationship with OneTeam Partners is “causing irreparable harm” to TBG.

At the time, the brand management, marketing and licensing agency said the compensation for student-athletes to appear in the EA Sports game would be “far below market value.” Earlier this summer, a source told On3’s Pete Nakos that the cash pool for athletes was in the $5 million neighborhood, which would pay out to $500 per player.

In a joint statement Thursday, OneTeam Partners and The BrandR Group said they reached an “amicable settlement of their past disputes related to college group licensing.” Most observers agreed that a settlement between OneTeam and TBG would eventually happen.

“This understanding reinforces their shared vision and commitment toward ensuring the protection and maximization of the NIL value of all collegiate athletes,” the statement said.

“In the wake of this settlement, the parties have agreed to adopt a model that both complements their respective core businesses while separating and operating as completely independent companies.

“The BrandR Group and OneTeam Partners have chosen to take this path in the best interest of their organizations, their stakeholders, and most importantly, due to a shared dedication to protecting and promoting the welfare and future prospects of all college athletes. Both organizations firmly believe in the importance of maximizing the value and opportunities available to athletes in the collegiate marketplace.”

In parallel to the settlement, TBG withdrew, without prejudice, its litigation against EA Sports. EA Sports filed to have the case dismissed in August. A judge dismissed TBG’s attempt to gain a temporary restraining order in June. Plus, EA Sports said in the past it plans to work with the College Licensing Company in addition to OneTeam.

Additionally, OneTeam Partners and The BrandR Group will collaborate on future initiatives that “benefit athletes and support them throughout their athletic careers.”

“To that end, leaders from both organizations emphasize their unified mission: to foster an environment where collegiate athletes’ rights and values are at the forefront of every business opportunity,” the statement concluded.

EA confirms game on track for 2024 release

An EA Sports spokesperson reaffirmed to On3 on Thursday night that the video gaming company is moving forward with plans for its release next summer.

“We are pleased that BrandR has decided to withdraw their claims without any payment from EA,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “We’ve been clear from the beginning that this suit had no merit. Our focus continues to be on directly licensing individual college athlete name and likeness rights through an opt-in program that will give college athletes the choice if they want to be in our game. We’re pleased to move on from these claims and look forward to delivering EA SPORTS College Football in Summer 2024.”

There had previously been anticipation that EA would return to the college football market this summer. The brand made the decision a year ago, however, to push back the release until summer 2024.

According to EA, everything is still on track for the video game to drop next year. Thursday’s news is another step to the release of one of the most beloved video games.

What does NIL have to do with EA Sports?

Before July 2021, college athletes were prohibited from profiting from their name, image and likeness. The origin of NIL traces back to the late 2000s when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and 19 others sued the NCAA, arguing the organization violated United States antitrust laws by not allowing athletes to make a share of the revenues generated from the use of their in broadcasts and video games.

This will be the first EA Sports college football game since 2013. It will also be the first video game that FBS athletes have been given the opportunity to benefit from their NIL.

The last time the EA Sports video game hit the shelves in 2013, roughly 1.5 million copies were sold. Since then, the gaming industry has seen significant growth and interest. Esports leagues have started. Twitch has become an extremely popular live streaming service thanks to video games, too.

Pete Nakos contributed to this story