Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.

I wish I had better news to share with you, but I'm afraid it's true.

Late Monday night, I reported that EA Sports College Football, a highly anticipated game previously scheduled to come out in the summer of 2023, will instead be released in the summer of 2024.

Late Monday evening, university athletic department officials across the country were sent the following email from Dave Kirkpatrick, the Senior Vice President of Business Development for CLC.

Good evening,
We know that there is a great deal of excitement and anticipation with respect to the status of the EA SPORTS™ College Football video game.
First, thank you for providing assets and reference materials related to your branding, stadium, and traditions.  We have a great foundation in place, and we are confident that this game will deliver an Ielevated experience for all fans. Thanks in great part to your efforts, the developers at EA SPORTS are creating a state- of-the-art college football video game in a way that will authentically represent the pageantry and uniqueness of the college game day experience.
As an update on game development and next steps, EA SPORTS will be posting to their website tomorrow morning a confirmation that the launch date for EA SPORTS™ College Football will be Summer 2024. While many expected 2023, EA SPORTS explains that this is necessary to ensure that their development team can build the best college game possible with the detail and the gameplay that they are known for delivering to fans.
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.
Below is the text of the blog post, as well as a direct link to the post, which will be live at 10:00 am eastern tomorrow. The post leverages rivalry week and provides a glimpse into the progress that has already occurred, as well as demonstrates how the assets that schools have provided are translating into an excellent foundation for the game.
We understand that the anticipation for the new game is at an all-time high, and we all want it to launch as soon as possible, but we know building a new game from the ground up is a monumental undertaking. We agree with EA SPORTS’ assessment that it is critical that we launch with a comprehensive, realistic, dynamic game!
We will keep you posted as we receive additional updates on the game. Should you have any questions in the interim, please contact your CLC Partnerships manager. Additionally, we expect this update to generate media attention. Should media reach out to you, please feel free to direct them to CLC or EA SPORTS.  Please keep the information confidential until the EA announcement tomorrow.  Thank you and hope that you have a great Thanksgiving!

On Tuesday AM, EA Sports confirmed that publishing date in an interview with ESPN.

Per the CLC email, EA was going to release a statement at 10 AM ET, saying it would be published at this URL. As of publishing time at 10:31 AM ET, that link is not active.

The text of that statement is as follows:

It’s Rivalry Week!
As college football fans everywhere gear up for one of the most heated and colorful weeks in sports, there is no better time to talk about EA SPORTS™ College Football. When we announced the official return of college football to the virtual fields, the response was overwhelming. We heard your excitement loud and clear, and we’re excited to be making this game for you. We’ve also heard that you want to know more, so here’s a little peek and a few updates from our EA Tiburon studio.
Authenticity is at the heart of EA SPORTS College Football. It’s the top priority for the world-class development team that has been diligently building the brand-new game from the ground up on next-generation platforms. It takes meticulous work to bring to life the pageantry and gameday traditions of the teams you know and love. Our team has been working to accurately represent more than 120 NCAA Division I universities, all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences, and the College Football Playoffs, with more institutions to come.
Our team is in the process of incorporating thousands of art files provided directly by the universities to recreate each university’s unique gameday atmosphere. We’ve also gone onsite to capture state-of-the-art 3D scans at dozens of stadiums while also gathering references for team runouts, mascots, cheerleaders, uniforms, historic school items, and more. Plus, the team has been able to plug into onsite broadcast audio feeds for the first time, allowing them to capture live gameday crowd audio, and have started recording some of the most recognizable commentators in the sport for use in-game. We are also working to include college athletes in a meaningful way in the game, extending our commitment to authenticity as we create a level of college football immersion like never before.
It is also critically important that we not only capture the authentic sights and sounds of college football, but that EA SPORTS College Football feels distinctly like college football with gameplay. On the field, college football has its own style, speed, plays, and flair that our team is deeply committed to bringing to the virtual fields. Especially in fan-favorite modes, Dynasty and Road to Glory, which are back in EA SPORTS College Football, completely evolved for the next generation of college football fans. Whether managing a team in Dynasty or seeking to become a campus legend in Road to Glory, familiar features like customization will be present, but also new factors like the transfer portal and much more will play a big role.
Now that we’ve shared a taste of the work in progress, we wanted to confirm for the first time when you can expect this brand-new game to be in your hands: EA SPORTS College Football will launch in Summer 2024.
Building a game like this from the ground up is complex, and we want to get it right for you.
Our entire EA SPORTS family is excited about the return of College Football, and we will have many more details to share with you in the coming months.
To stay updated on the latest EA SPORTS and college football news, follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit https://www.ea.com/sports.

When I was out in Montana for College GameDay last week, I can confirm some of those commentators will include ESPN's David Pollack and Rece Davis. Multiple other industry sources have told me that ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit will also be involved in the project.

Wait, so why the delay?

EA's company line appears to be that technically, this isn't a delay. After all, the company never announced a 2023 expected launch date. That came from me (and later, other reporters) publishing correspondence from EA to FBS institutions that stated they were shooting for 2023, a date that EA would then confirm to reporters when we asked about it. I personally think it's accurate to depict this as a delay, but don't be surprised if anybody pushes back on that.

The biggest release for the delay, I'm told, comes down to the product itself. I wrote this earlier in November, and I've said it time and time again since I started writing about the development of this project. EA is not trying to simply reskin Madden or  NCAA 14. They are trying to create an entirely new IP, one that is even different from the old NCAA games.

Simply rolling out NCAA 14 is impossible, given that the last game came out two video game systems ago, and was also the subject of a lawsuit you guys might remember.  I was told that the code base needed to be mostly ripped down to the studs, and that stuff takes time. 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.

Licensing industry professionals familiar with the project have told me over the summer that they are still optimistic about reaching a solution to pay athletes for their likeness in the game, but have conceded that it is way more time-consuming and complicated than licensing professional athletes. The CLC memo stated that they hope to be able to share information on those plans "very soon", and based on what I have heard over the last six months, I do not believe that was a major reason for the delay in the project. But the licensing world, one that now involves not just schools, thousands of athletes, and marketing companies, but also collectives, is a complicated mess to navigate.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty surprised

I heard a few whispers this was possible back in September, but I didn't take them too seriously. Nothing in any of the FOIA'd correspondence that I read suggested a delay was likely, and nothing from the conversations I had with licensing directors and industry professionals suggested a delay was coming. I reported a few weeks ago that industry folks did expect EA Sports to make an official update about the game before the end of the season...but not like that.

I wish I had better news to share. The best intel that I have right now is that EA still really wants to make this game, and the schools are highly invested in helping them do that. Hopefully, it's worth the wait.

And hey, if you're looking for some good news...the delay should be enough time to get Kennesaw State in the next game. So, at least there's that?

And now, for a quick housekeeping note

I imagine this newsletter is going to reach a ton of new folks. Welcome! In addition to writing about college sports video game development, I cover all sorts of off-the-field stories that shape the college sports industry. That includes NIL, conference realignment, sports business, TV deals, Olympic Sports, and more.

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It's Thanksgiving Week, so I'm taking a few days off, but we'll be back on Monday.

Thanks for reading and supporting EP.


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