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The complicated math behind a return of video game college basketball

It's not coming in the immediate future. Here's why:

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Over the last few weeks, my email inbox, Twitter mentions and DMs have been buried in a deluge of questions from video game fans. EA Sports finally releasing a teaser video, and then sending out NIL contracts to thousands of athletes, have sent the speculation machines into overdrive.

The questions I get usually fall into three categories. There’s a group of questions that could be answered by my previously published reporting (are FCS teams going to be in the game? Can I play the game on my PS4? Are walk-ons going to in the game?). There’s a group of deeply specific questions that I can’t answer yet (can we rush the field during the game? How many users will online Dynasty support? Will we be able to upload custom sound effects?).

And then there’s this one.

When is the college basketball game coming back?

I’ve addressed this a few times in various mailbag newsletters, and on social media. So let me go ahead and answer the question one more time ahead of the paywall barrier. I am unaware of any AAA college basketball game currently in production, and my licensing industry and video game industry sources have repeatedly told me not to expect anything in the immediate future.

There are lots of reasons for that, but the biggest is pretty simple. College basketball games were not particularly commercially successful the last time around, and video game development has only become more expensive since 2009. Multiple AAA studios got out of the college basketball business not due to lawsuits, but because they couldn’t profitably sell the games.

But hey, 2009 was a long time ago. Could the series be restarted someday? Sure, it’s possible.

At least one writer, Noah Henderson at FanNation, tried to pencil out how much a college basketball game would cost EA in licensing fees. I think this was a good effort, but missed a few important expenses.

Let’s dig into the math behind this game, and other potential AAA video games, which I think will make everything a bit more clear:

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