Fresh Look Celebrates the Return of College Football to Video Games

For those who don’t know, I am from Central Ohio. Ohio State University athletics have nothing short of a cult following here. If you wear blue and gold where I live, then there will be people who talk trash to you for sure. It happened to me a lot after I graduated from West Virginia University and moved back home. Nevertheless, because WVU shares similar school colors with Ohio State University’s major college football rival the University of Michigan, that was all that mattered. Why do I bring up this anecdote about being someone who wears the wrong color clothes in Ohio? Well, it’s to prove that college football has a strong cultural impact.

College sports are everywhere, and people love college sports rivalry games that have become part of the culture. The Game (Ohio State vs. Michigan) has people in Ohio crossing out every “M” in central Ohio, and the Backyard Brawl (WVU vs. Pitt) has a lot of fans at the stadium chanting a naughty slogan to the tune of Sweet Caroline.

So, given how many people are into college football, why did the world go so long without a college football video game? Well, it’s a complex situation and it would take me several columns to write the full history of what happened. Essentially, EA Sports was using the likeness of players without any compensation to the players. This was complicated by the fact that NCAA rules prevented college athletes from getting any compensation without jeopardizing their ability to play. Players revolted and lawsuits were filed. EA had no good way out of that situation, so they shelved the college football video game brand all together and mostly focused on Madden NFL, which featured professional players and existing license agreements.

Now that NCAA has passed the name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules, college athletes can earn money on things like using their likenesses in video games while playing college sports, and while they are still students. With that issue finally taken care of, it means that college football can come back to video games. And that is why EA has just announced that EA Sports College Football 25 will launch for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on July 19.

I have such a mix of emotions about this. For one, I am so happy that I have the opportunity to play a college football video game again. I still remember playing career mode years ago and then exporting the young college athlete I made there over to the current Madden title at the time so he could go in the draft.

But like everything these days, I can’t be truly happy about this announcement. College Football 25 will not be launched for PC, at least not at first, and I only have an older Xbox, not an Xbox Series X. I doubt I will be able to buy an Xbox Series X anytime soon. Additionally, there are three versions of the pending game, and the MVP version is an eye watering $149.99. The bonuses in the deluxe edition? You get 4,600 college points (I have no idea what those are for) and some ultimate team digital items.

So, this is where I become a little bit sad.

Why do we need an ultimate team mode in everything? These titles are supposed to be college focused with the current athletes graduating in a couple years and new people enrolling to fill out rosters. You can’t really have a dynasty with so many rotating players. Just because Madden NFL has an ultimate team mode doesn’t mean it needs to be in every game. Not to sound old, but I remember when you used to pay a lot of money for something like a pre-order bonus, and you would get a statue, helmet, or something else that you could hold onto and display in your room.

College football video games have typically had a different audience than Madden or other NFL titles. There has not been a college football game released by EA Sports in over a decade, and while I am happy to see it, I hope that EA does not try and take advantage of its players. Personally, I just want to play career mode with WVU and hopefully rediscover my love for football video games again. I have not really enjoyed playing a Madden title since Madden 09.

Maybe EA will step up and prove me wrong. I hope that College Football 25 will be amazing. Otherwise, I guess I can go back to playing NCAA Football 09. But I hope the future for college football video games is a bright one, and that College Football 25 is exactly what we need to bring back that glory.

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