Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Brander Group sues EA Sports: What’s the future for college football?


There have been a lot of headlines about the EA Sports college football video game resurgence lately.

On Tuesday, the Brandr Group sued EA over the company’s attempt to obtain NIL player rights while circumventing the Brandr Group’s licensing contracts with schools. Sports Front Office I first reported about the lawsuit. This follows a public outcry over how much athletes will be paid to take part in the game. Will this have any actual impact on the release of the game? Mostly not.

Here’s what we know:

When is the game back?

On February 2, 2021, EA Sports announced that the college football game would return for the first time since 2013. The news came amid changes to the name, image, and likeness rules, allowing players to earn money for these rights. The NCAA officially allowed nil deals that summer.

The video game was shut down amid lawsuits involving players and their zero rights, most notably former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. EA Sports said it was willing to pay players, and O’Bannon said he didn’t want to shut down the game just so players could make money. But the NCAA wouldn’t budge on allowing players to make money, and the video game came to an end because it was the most public dartboard on athlete compensation. EA Sports didn’t want to deal with any more lawsuits. While the real players were not technically named in the ancient games, their images and likenesses were evident. A settlement paid an average of $1,600 to thousands of players (after legal fees and expenses) and the game disappeared.

Based on EA Sports’ decision to return the game, communications from EA to schools indicated that the plan was to release the new game in the summer of 2023. In November 2022, the company announced that it would instead release in the summer of 2024, due to the amount of work required to build a new game.

How much will players earn from the new game?

In May, EA Sports announced a deal with OneTeam partners for a group licensing, a licensing move often used for individual NIL use at the team level such as jerseys. Players simply need to sign up for the game. OneTeam previously worked with EA Sports on volume licensing for games like Madden. On the count to 3 I mentioned that guys Each will likely earn around $500 (an estimated $5 million), without any royalties.

That $500 figure upset some player rights activists, though the media framing of the player boycott was by no means accurate. Jason Stahl, Executive Director, College Football Players Association He wrote that players should interrupt the gameHowever, the CFBPA is not a players’ union and does not have nearly enough membership to enforce a boycott. Stahl attempted to lead what was ultimately a failed marshalling effort around Penn State football last year. No organization speaks for the majority, or even a group, of college football players. As of now at least, there is no interruption.

What Stahl and The Brandr Group argue is that the players should have a bigger say in the parameters of the deal, because there is no union to negotiate them. NFL players earn thousands of dollars from Madden, although there are fewer NFL players than there are college players.

Why did Brandr Group file a lawsuit against EA over the game?

Another collegiate licensing company is The Brandr Group, a company that was in discussions to get a college football deal for EA Sports. It has partnerships with more than 50 football-playing schools, including Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, and more. Depending on the school, the Brandr Group has “exclusive” or “preferred” group licensing rights, which the company defines as three or more athletes on a school team, or six or more across multiple sports, while using the school’s image. Brandr Group says its athletes get 70% of the video game share.

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The suit alleges that EA told The Brandr Group in May 2022 that EA would make “100 percent” agreements through the Brandr Group for its partner schools. But in May 2023, that didn’t happen. Since EA Sports has entered into an exclusive partnership with OneTeam, how do Brandr School players get involved in the game?

The Brandr Group claims that EA has told Brandr’s partner schools that players can sign up for the game individually without circumventing Brandr’s contracts. Brandr claims this is a painful intervention because the schools have been pressured into violating their Brandr contracts.

“TBG heard from some of its partner schools that EA was pressuring schools that had not yet opted out to participate in the game to agree to their participation in the game by June 30, 2023,” Brandr Group alleges in the lawsuit.

Brandr Group also claims that it will get a better deal for players than OneTeam.

“As previously stated, our primary concern is to advocate for student-athletes, ensuring that they have a voice and are fairly represented in all matters relating to the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL),” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “We believe student-athletes are not getting a fair market value for their zero-sum rights and that the required contractual rights may limit other zero-sum playing opportunities. We have no further comment at this time.”

(Separately, EA’s agreements for the use of school licenses, such as logos, are made through the volume licensing company or other group.)

Is this really about the players or is it just business?

While the Brandr Group’s public comments have focused on players, the lawsuit is largely about business. The company did not ask EA to stop the game or stop zero-sum deals. I have asked the court to recognize that the Brandr Group has these exclusive rights and that EA passes through Brandr to work with those Brandr partner schools and players, in addition to monetary damages.

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The lawsuit’s argument is basically the following: If EA can work around our volume licensing contracts to make group deals, then volume licensing contracts mean nothing.

Will this affect the release of the game?

It looks like the game will still be on schedule for summer 2024. The game doesn’t need real players, but it’s something everyone wants. It does no good to anyone not to have it. The Brandr Group did not ask EA to stop making the game, he told esports business attorney Mitt Winter the athlete It is unlikely that an order to stop him will succeed. This is very much a business and licensing issue, not a game version issue.

Besides, the process of uploading the players image is not as time-consuming as creating the actual gameplay, and the game can download roster updates if needed.

What can we expect in the game?

like the athlete And other outlets have stated that the game will be built on the Madden engine, with the main focus being the Road to Glory and Dynasty modes. There will be a wide range of school uniforms, traditions and music. The game is also expected to include the Transfer Portal and an expanded college football field.

(Photo: Edward Linsmeier/Bloomberg via Getty Images)