In a college town like Auburn where the closest professional sports teams are over 100 miles away in Atlanta, college athletics obviously reign supreme. While many football fans across the country can hop on the latest edition of "Madden" and play as their hometown team, fans here in Auburn are unfortunately stuck without representation in sports video games.
It wasn't always like this, in fact, as recent as 2013 Auburn fans could play as the Auburn Tigers in EA Sports' "NCAA 14", the last college football game released on the market and for avid college footballs fans, the end of an era.
Even worse, for those more interested in college basketball, EA Sports' 2009 release, "NCAA Basketball 10" was the last chance hoops fans could experience the unique and exciting atmosphere of college basketball through a video game.
The end of college sports video games was mainly brought on by a 2014 lawsuit filed against the NCAA by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon who on the behalf of all Division I football and men's basketball players, challenged that players should be compensated for the use of their image and likeness in video games.
The NCAA, looking to maintain the idea of amateurism in college sports, refused to compensate their athletes for using their image in video games and consequently, lost the case.
And so, with the reality of having to pay players if they were in video games, the NCAA removed their official license and in turn, companies like EA Sports were unable to release future installments of their games that included college teams.
However, the real losers in this lawsuit are the avid college sports fans like myself. Those who have spent countless hours leading teams like Auburn to BCS National Championships or through March Madness year after year.
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After over four years without any sort of college sports video game, fans are growing weary. Although some dedicated fans have graciously created updated rosters for the outdated games, the lifespan of these games can only last so long as gaming continues to advance, both in graphical quality and gameplay itself.
Not everyone understands the allure of college sports as opposed to their professional counterparts. But as previously stated, in cities like Auburn that lack any sort of professional sports, collegiate sports is as close as we can get.
Unlike games like "Madden" or "NBA 2k" the idea of taking a team from college bottom feeders to champions is remarkably appealing and taking your favorite colleges football or basketball team to the upper echelon that the sport has to offer is unfortunately, something that future generations might not be able to ever experience.
With many fans still enthusiastically playing EA Sports' "NCAA 14" and other titles, it is clear that lack of interest isn't the issue. Legal issues are predominately what holds back the possibility of the genre making a return.
However, companies like "IMV Gaming" working relentlessly to bring college football video games back on the market, hope is not completely lost. "IMV Gaming" has yet to receive licensing for official college teams, making the game simply a generic football game at the moment. However, getting official NCAA license is a goal that the company is working for and if never achieved, there's no doubt the passionate fans of the genre would be able to modify the game to include actual colleges.
Also fresh on the mind of many is a PlayStation ad premiering this past September that featured former college football stars and current college coaches. Although nothing is confirmed, the ad certainly has fans on edge waiting for any certain news on the return of their beloved gaming franchise.
While it is generally seen that a return of college football games would be more likely than collegiate basketball, the chance to once again lead your favorite college team to victory is one that would mean immense success for any company that can find a way to bring the games back.
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