Five years ago today, I spent $60 on what I would probably call the greatest $60 investment I’ve ever made. With that cash, I purchased NCAA Football 14. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that would be the last ever time I, or anyone else, would purchase an NCAA Football video game.
On September 23, 2013, just a few months after I bought the game in July, EA Sports announced that it would stop production of the NCAA Football series. The series wasn’t halted because it wasn’t making money, as the game series had brought in more than $1 billion of profit to EA Sports since its initial release in the 1990s. Rather, the game series was canceled due to a lawsuit pioneered by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, who criticised EA Sports for using college athletes likenesses without the athletes receiving any of the money.
If you couldn’t tell already, I love the NCAA Football video game series. To this day, NCAA 14 is the lone reason why I still have my old PS3, and it is still the video game I play the most. Despite there being very little signs of hope that EA will bring back the NCAA series, I still hold out hope that one day the series will come back. Honestly, I don’t see why the game hasn’t come back yet. If the issue was player likenesses being used, then the simple solution would be for EA to just use completely randomized rosters for each team. People could make updated rosters every year like Operation Sports still does today, and there would be no harm.
However, even without a new NCAA Football game, I am completely okay. NCAA 14 still holds up five years later, and I can say without a doubt that it is the greatest sports video game of all time. You know what actually, it is the greatest video game of all time. The game is so good, that in a dynasty mode I have with the Colorado Buffaloes (no connection to Colorado, I just wanted to take a bad Power 5 team to the top, 25 in-game years later and we’re a national powerhouse), I have a notebook where I have written down the schedules, stats, awards, All-Americans, recruiting, etc. from each season. Yes, that may be me being a complete loser, but that shows how much I love this game. An even bigger testament to how good this game is, is that British people who don’t like American football still think it’s amazing.
Even with the game being on the old consoles (PS3 or Xbox 360), not having every current FBS team in the game (teams like App State, Georgia Southern, and others were in the FCS in 2013), not being updated to the college football playoffs (it still has the BCS system), and being 5 years old, it is still probably one of the most played sports video games today. Many video game YouTubers started uploading videos of NCAA 14 well after its release and gained a large following. As I mentioned earlier, hundreds of people at Operation Sports spend hours and hours each year creating updated rosters for the large fanbase NCAA 14 still has. Go on Twitter today and you’ll see just how bad the world wants this series to return.
In summation, NCAA 14 is a fantastic video game. It always has been, and it always will be. If my PS3 breaks and I’m unable to play the game anymore, I’d probably buy a new PS3 just to continue playing this game. I can only imagine how good the games in the series would have gotten if production was never canceled.
Oh, and I forgot to mention: I hate you, Ed O’Bannon.