It has been a huge week of news for the future of NCAA video games. With that in mind, we asked the staff how they were feeling after this exciting turn of events that has many of us eyeing the return of NCAA video games by 2021 or 2022.
Jeff Botkin: As a major NCAA gaming fan, I am so excited about the possibility of NCAA sports gaming making a magnificent return. After all, there has been such a long layoff since NCAA Football 2014. The advancement of the consoles and graphics would make for a fantastic platform for NCAA games to return to. How great would it be to sit down on a Saturday afternoon and boot up a showdown between Notre Dame and USC? Or maybe an Oregon versus LSU. Imagine NCAA Football 2021 including broadcast overlays like the Pac-12 Network, Big 10 Network, ESPN, ABC and more. Imagine every college team being included, from division 1 teams to 1-AA.
Not only would I love to see NCAA Football return, I would also like to see NCAA Basketball and College Hoops 2K with March Madness and Selection Sunday. The possibility of taking your 16-seeded team to a national championship warms the soul. Or how about NCAA Baseball with metal bats and the drive to make it to a College World Series. I hope EA and 2K take the time and put in the leg work to bring these titles back to the sports gaming market. Fingers crossed.
Josh Houtz: I’m not sure words can describe how excited I am for a potential return of NCAA Football. After all, it was one of the few games I would buy each and every year. No matter how good Madden was, NCAA Football always seemed to be one step ahead to me. How great was it to build a small division 1 school into a dynasty after years of recruiting and making the right decisions? And now that I’ve grown older, I’m starting to appreciate watching college football from noon on Saturday all the way through Pac-12 After Dark.
Anyway, nothing was more rewarding than having a Heisman hopeful dominate the college ranks. The game itself has also evolved over the years, which makes this more intriguing as well. Whether it be the various game-day traditions or the implementation of turnover chains, if it’s in the game it should be in the game. Still, the truth is it’s not all sunshine and roses. Anyone who has played Madden over the last several years should understand EA isn’t going to make a sequel to the ever-popular NCAA Football 14 and have it be an absolute hit at this point. Madden has taken a step back in some years and it would be hard not to assume that would trickle into an NCAA game. However, EA wouldn’t be the only company capable of making such a game. Imagine an NCAA game with 2K gameplay and presentation. Now that could have the potential to be a Heisman Trophy winner. In the end, the more football video games on the market the better — and the more NCAA games in general the better. After years of making money off of player likenesses, things are finally taking a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping for an NCAA Football 2021 and NCAA Football 2K because it’s what the fans and players deserve.
TJ Henderson: Before the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, the EA Sports NCAA Football account (which had been dormant for almost two years) posted this video. Shortly thereafter, EA had to clarify that it was not a return announcement. The reaction to that video for many was the equivalent of seeing a loved one show signs of life after being in a decade-long coma. I was heartbroken all over again. Absolutely nothing in the world of sports gaming matched my passion for college games. Collectively, they may hold the record for most hours logged in my gaming life, even without them being around in the last few years. I can only imagine that there are developers at these studios who have felt that same passion burning, and I hope that translates into something truly special if and when they get to bring these games back to life.
In addition to the heavyweights making a return, I would also love if the new model proved accessible for smaller developers to get involved, perhaps to tackle other sports. Softball, wrestling, track and field, and more have their own rich histories in college athletics. If we’re returning to this wonderland, then I want to see some real niche stuff eventually happening. That said, even if we only get the big guns back, the NCAA breaking their stance on this is a miracle in and of itself. Whatever we get from here on out is frankly in territory I wasn’t sure we would ever see. If (when) a new NCAA Football and College Hoops are announced, I might be filed as a missing person after release day.