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EA Sports' college football video game to return in summer 2024, not 2023 as targeted

EA Sports’ college football video game is officially coming back, just not as soon as everybody hoped.

EA Sports confirmed Tuesday that the hugely popular college football video game will return in the summer of 2024. A formal news release from the company is expected later Tuesday.

According to multiple reports, EA Sports previously was targeting summer 2023 for the game’s relaunch, but the company had never publicly committed to a date. Now it has.

From ESPN:

Daryl Holt, EA Sports' vice president and general manager, told ESPN in an interview the brand is going to launch EA Sports College Football at that time because of the totality of the undertaking of creating the game from scratch. For them, it's not about rushing to market but making sure the inaugural edition of what they plan to have as a yearly title is up to standard.

"That's the best date for us to bring the game that we think is going to meet or exceed our player expectations," Holt said. "And cover the breadth and scale of what we want in the game. We're trying to build a very immersive college football experience."

A lot has changed in college football since the last iteration of the game formerly known as “NCAA Football” that will now carry the branding of “EA Sports College Football.” EA stopped making the game due to the ongoing NCAA legal dispute surrounding the use of player likenesses.

But now we are in a world where college athletes can be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness, opening the door for the game’s return.

EA Sports, which announced it was bringing the game back in February 2021, says it is building the game from scratch and intends to use real college players in the game, not the lookalike avatars users have come to know (for example: Bryce Young would be “Alabama QB #9” and have very similar physical attributes). EA Sports intends to compensate college players who are in the game.

Over the past few years, EA Sports has worked to acquire the rights for “at least 120 FBS schools,” plus the 10 FBS conferences and the College Football Playoff. The popular “Dynasty” game mode will return, as will “Road to Glory.” And yes, there will be a transfer portal in the game.

Matt Brown of Extra Points has reported extensively about the game’s return. He obtained the correspondence sent from Collegiate Licensing Company to athletic department officials around the country on Monday night with an update on the game. In addition to sharing the summer 2024 launch date, athletic departments were informed that a “plan for athlete opt-ins” is in the works.

“In addition to the continued focus on game development, EA SPORTS is also working to include college athletes in the game. We hope to be able to share the plan for athlete opt-ins very soon. We know that this will be of high interest to your athletic department and coaching staff, so please feel free to share this information with them as well,” the email from CLC Senior Vice President of Business Development Dave Kirkpatrick reads.

EA Sports has been working to obtain materials from as many FBS schools as it can to make the game as authentic as possible and reflective of each school’s gameday experience.

Brown previously reported that the game won’t simply be a reskin of the Madden franchise or even an update to NCAA 14. It’s a brand new game:

“I was told that the code base needed to be mostly ripped down to the studs, and that stuff takes time," Brown wrote. "I'm told they simply needed more time to best represent not just the stadiums, traditions, and pageantry that make college football great, but the gameplay itself. College playbooks aren't the same as NFL playbooks and require different animations and code.”

The last edition of the game was NCAA 14, which was released in July of 2013.