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‘We’re in the game’: Football to be featured in newest NCAA game

Hong Lin Tsai / Thresher

By Diego Palos Rodriguez     1/9/24 11:36pm

After more than a decade without a new NCAA Football video game, Rice’s associate athletic director of external affairs David Pillen confirmed that video game company Electronic Arts will release a college football video game in 2024, which the Rice Owls will be featured in.

According to Pillen, EA Sports and Rice have been in communication since early 2021 when EA Sports announced that it would be developing the game. EA Sports’ licensing partner, Collegiate Licensing Company, has also been involved in the communications along with technical and legal issues. This includes the payout tier that Rice qualified for, a number that has not been confirmed yet, and face scans for football players, which have not occurred yet according to Pillen.

In 2014, EA settled to distribute $40 million to more than 29,000 athletes after a legal battle against EA and CLC for using players’ likeness. EA was reportedly willing to pay players for their likeness in the first place, but NCAA rules prevented them from doing so, leading EA to halt production of their NCAA series

Now, with recent policies allowing student-athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness, EA can pay. There are claims that student-athletes will receive a flat fee of $500, though these reports are not confirmed and an official number would not be determined until 2024. Student-athletes still have to opt-in, however, and not doing so would mean their likeness would be replaced by a generic avatar in the game.

Since face scans and compensations have not occurred or been confirmed, it is unlikely that current players will be featured in the game, meaning that seniors and graduate students such as quarterback JT Daniels will not be included. The 2024 football roster will most likely be the first featured. 

As to what will be included in the game for the Rice Owls, Pillen confirmed that it has provided an array of information to EA Sports and CLC.

“Rice has provided assets as requested from CLC and EA that include photos of competition, stadium visuals, music tracks for fight song and alma mater, athletic logos, uniform combinations, and brand taglines,” Pillen wrote. “Any uniform/helmet combination that was worn this past season was shared with EA Sports.”

This includes the “Love Ya Blue” uniform combination along with the retro navy blue helmets and standard white and blue uniform combinations, though it is not guaranteed that all of these combinations will be available. 

While there hasn’t been an official release date, the highly-anticipated video game is set to make waves across South Main for both fans and the football program.

“[The game is] a huge marketing resource for the Rice Owls brand that will organically allow us to reach a younger generation,” Pillen wrote. 

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