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

Friends, I've got a big newsletter today, so buckle up.

First, last chance, please fill out our Reader Survey if you haven't already.

I'm a little late on handing out those free subscriptions, but I want to give folks one last chance to fill out this survey first. This data is EXCEPTIONALLY useful for us as we pursue new ad parters and plan this football season. Thank you!! I will close the survey on Saturday.

Second, we have two episodes of Going For Two to share:

I didn't get a chance to throw this in the newsletter earlier this week, but I sat down with Michigan offensive lineman Olu Oluwatimi.

Olu is a unique player, somebody who went from lightly recruited out of one of the most prestigious HS programs in Maryland, to the Air Force, then to UVA, and now to Michigan. We talk about his academic journey, what makes Air Force unique, his Nigerian-American heritage, what NIL looks like for him, and more. I think you'll enjoy listening to it!

Today, we also have episode with Bryan and I. We chat a bit more about my big takeaways from the huge NIL Summit conference I attended in Atlanta earlier this week, as well as the updates with the NCAA Transformation Committee (transfer windows?!?). And yes, we reminded our friends that you can save 15% off your first order at Homefield Apparel by using promocode EXTRAPOINTS.

But we ALSO dug into my latest discoveries about the much anticipated EA Sports College Football game, from licensing, to internal communications, to updates with music, in-game chants, stickers, and more. If you'd prefer to listen rather than read, this podcast is for you.

To sponsor a future Extra Points newsletter, please email sales@extrapointsmb.com.  For article ideas, newsletter feedback, FOIA tips, athlete NIL sponsorships and more, I'm at matt@extrapointsmb.com, or @MattBrownEP on Twitter, and @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram.


Wait, what's this about EA Sports College Football?

Here's everything I know right now, including my most up-to-date information.

When is this game expected to come out?

In March of 2021, I filed a series of Open Records Requests for updates that EA Sports, or the CLC (Collegiate Licensing Corporation) were sending to NCAA schools about the game. Those FOIAs returned a project proposal, dated Jan 15, 2021, that spelled out that the company was targeting a July of 2023 release date. The proposal stated:

EA’s aim is to release a stand-alone college football game in July of 2023, allowing for the two-year game development window necessary for collecting game assets and developing game play to meet the current market demands for a unique college football game while following NCAA guidelines

But hey, that was a year ago, right? Things could change?

Additional records requests also turned up an update, sent from CLC management to multiple D-I institutions, dated Feb 25, 2022, nearly a full year after the first proposal.

That letter states:

...game development is in full swing, and the launch goal remains summer of 2023.

So there you go. I saw some graphics floating around social media suggesting a Winter 2023 release was possible, but every document I have inspected, as well as all communications I've had with individuals directly familiar with the project's development, confirm July of 23 is the current target.

What is EA asking schools for now?

The most recent proposal, dated February 25, specifically concerns band songs, crowd chants, and team-specific audio assets.

EA Sports is continuing to gather stadium assets and is now at a point where they would like to start obtaining music assets from your institution. As you can see inthe attached spreadsheet, EA is looking for information about band songs, crowd chants, and cheers, as well as when particular audio is played during the football game.
....
or crowd chants, if there aren’t any files available as reference, please provide the text of the chant (and anything EA may need to know in order to recreate it authentically, like cadence, or if there’s a specific piece of music that plays with the chant.)

This ask suggests that beyond marching bands, EA Sports is seeking to recreate the stadium experience as closely as possible for each school. So, hypothetically, if your alma mater played a specific song at the end of the third quarter, well, EA is trying to add that (if copyright allows for it) into the game. If your student section has a specific chant, well, EA is trying to get everything they need to replicate it.

I reached out and asked if this meant EA was committed to including drunk LSU fans demanding that the band play Neck, but those questions were not answered at press time.

Industry sources tell me that another realism element EA has asked schools for is additional data for spirit stickers on helmets. I'm told EA isn't just hoping to replicate the sticker asset, but sticker distribution and cadence. I.e, if you're playing as Ohio State in the first week of the season, the helmets should be plain. By early November, they should be full of stickers.

What schools are IN the game so far?

According to the Feb 25 memo, CLC is claiming that "nearly 120 institutions, athletic conferences and bowl games" have "conceptually approved participation."

However, I am told that the remaining holdouts have still provided stadium and musical assets, and are operating as if they are going to participate in the project. The holdouts, I'm told, are either because there is not currently an established mechanism for paying athletes for their likenesses to appear in the game, or because there are still a few licensing wrinkles to be ironed out for schools that currently don't operate under the CLC umbrella.

The industry expectation is that every single FBS institution, including the newest members joining from FCS, will participate in the game at launch.

What's the latest on player participation in the game?

In case there is any confusion, EA Sports WANTS to include player likeness in this game, and they want to pay athletes to do it. I've been told the company has wanted to do this for years, but prior to NIL, there wasn't a mechanism to do so without risking player eligibility.

The way for EA to pay the athletes now is for them to secure a group license. This is logistically difficult in the college space, since there is no college football player union or collective bargaining unit, but group licenses for college athlete products already exist, and are continuing to grow. Just last week, after all, Topps announced a new program to launch college football and basketball player trading cards.

I'm told there is optimism that the framework for a college football player video game group license could be announced as early as this summer. There was some hope it could have happened even earlier, but some shakeups in the college group license industry has made things a teensy bit more complicated. I'm told that when the framework of an agreement is announced, the licensing agent won't have anywhere close to every college football player, but will hope to sign the rest up after securing rights for a critical mass of athletes.

One fun wrinkle to watch for...some college athletes have reportedly already signed their exclusive NIL rights to collective groups. While I have not been told there's a meaningful risk that these athletes won't be in the video game, I have been told by industry sources that athletes who have done this will have a bigger paperwork headache to get in the game, and complications could arise, depending on the collective and the specific contract. I'm assuming that any collective that makes it harder for athletes to be in the game is going to face a big time recruiting disadvantage, no matter how many bags they drop.

In the very unlikely event that EA is unable to secure player likenesses, the video game is still schedule to publish, but it will not include every single FBS program. According to the 2021 memo, such a game would also not include the ability to edit rosters.

How much do schools make for participating in the game?

Each school's guarantee is determined by their "Tier", according to the 2021 memo. A school's Tier is based on the number of AP Top 25 finishes over a ten year period, a period that will include the 2022 college football season. According to the memo, those tier amounts are:

Tier 1: $104,900

Tier 2: $62,900

Tier 3: $41,900

Tier 4: $10,400

EA also confirmed that DLC will be a part of the game, and that such content "creates additional revenue streams that will be shared with participating institutions as incremental revenue above royalties." I am told that EA is prepared to do the same with athletes as well.

Our previous FOIA work showed that not every school was thrilled with this Tier structure.

Do you know about gameplay feature X, Y or Z?

Not much. I can confirm that EA is planning an Ultimate Team Mode, similar to Madden, FIFA, and other major sports franchises, which may be a source for potential DLC. I can also confirm that the very popular Dynasty mode will be a part of the game in some capacity, and that EA is taking it very seriously to update the game based on how college football has changed both on an off the field since their last release (read into that what you will). I'll share more about gameplay when, and if, I learn more.

The rest of our EA Sports coverage can be found here. As we learn more, we promise to share it. And if you're an AD or marketing agent and you're reading this, I promise, there is no detail too small for this audience. If you'd like to chat, I can be reached at Matt@ExtraPointsMB.com.


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To sponsor a future Extra Points newsletter, please email sales@extrapointsmb.com.  For article ideas, newsletter feedback, FOIA tips, athlete NIL sponsorships and more, I'm at matt@extrapointsmb.com, or @MattBrownEP on Twitter, and @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram.