The return of EA Sports’ college football video game series now has an arrival time: summer 2024.
Daryl Holt, EA Sports vice president and general manager, told ESPN in an interview that the brand will launch EA Sports College Football at that time due to the entire commitment to building the game from the ground up.
For them, it’s not about rushing to market, it’s about making sure the inaugural issue of what they plan to have as an annual title lives up to it.
“That’s the best date for us to bring the game that we think will meet or exceed our players’ expectations,” Holt said. “And cover the breadth and scale of what we want in the game. We’re trying to build a very immersive college football experience.”
Holt said that the earlier rumored potential release dates were conjecture and that the game had not been pushed or delayed. He said that they wanted to work hard on the game and that they had to start everything from the beginning.
That includes, Holt said, figuring out a way to use real college football players in the game, something Holt said is his intention. This is a change from when the brand announced the game would return in February 2021 and the inner workings of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) were still being worked out in the college athletics landscape. Back then there were more unknowns about NIL.
NIL is a part of life in college athletics now, which has opened avenues for real college players to get into the game, though how the structure to facilitate that will happen remains unclear. An EA source told ESPN players that they will be compensated if they are in the game.
“If you look back to where we were talking in 2021, that path was blocked,” Holt said. “I think I even said something about the fact that we were passengers on this trip like everyone else.
“Well, the road is open now, but it’s still under construction.”
Holt said there are still issues they are working on to ensure college football players are used in the game, but “our intention is to work towards that and find a meaningful way to include them in the game.”
The same goes for schools in the game. EA Sports has partnered with CLC to secure the rights to FBS schools, uniforms, stadiums and other college soccer traditions and will have at least 120 schools in the game.
Holt said they have “a large number of FBS schools committed,” though he did not say which of the 131 FBS schools have yet to sign up. Holt did not say whether Notre Dame, which had said shortly after the February 2021 announcement that it would not sign on to the game unless players benefited from the use of their name, image and likeness, has signed on. He also didn’t say what would happen if an FBS school decides not to commit to being in the game.
The game has secured the rights to the FBS 10 conference and College Football Playoff.
“We’re hoping more will join, but we can only commit to what we have in the bin right now,” Holt said. “And we’ll have more information to share as we move through that evolving landscape. But we’ll put as many schools in the game as we can.”
Holt also didn’t say if FCS and HBCU schools will be included, other than to say the game will be “an ever-evolving experience.”
If a school has committed, Holt said they’re working to make sure as much of each school’s unique traditions and experiences are accurately included, from stadiums to uniforms.
The game will feature the return of Dynasty Mode, where you can control a school across multiple seasons, including the recruiting and transfer portal, and Road to Glory, where you can create a player and take them through the college football process. .
Holt declined to go into what features either mode might have, but stressed that Dynasty Mode is a priority for the developers.
“Dynasty was at the top of everyone’s mind, at the top of everyone’s list,” Holt said. “So that’s been something that I think we’re passionately focused on and we want to make sure that we can do our best for the first year with still fundamental elements to build on as we go.”
The game will be the first college football game produced by EA Sports since NCAA Football ’14 with former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who now works as Michigan Football’s assistant director of player personnel, on the cover.