EA cancels 2014 college football game, settles lawsuits with former players

[UPDATE] Publisher says it will not publish previously announced next-gen football game next year and is evaluating plans for the future of the franchise; lawsuits with former players settled.

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[UPDATE 2] Attorneys representing the student-athletes said in a statement that the amount and other terms of the settlement are confidential pending a court filing.

"I can say that we are extraordinarily pleased with this settlement, whose terms we will be proud to present to the court and to the public," Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman said in a statement. "When we began this case in 2009, we were venturing into a new application of the law, with little precedent, while facing monumental legal hurdles."

"When we filed the case, we felt very strongly that EA's appropriation of student-athletes' images for a for-profit venture was wrong, both in a legal sense and from a more fundamental moral perspective," Berman added. "These guys were busting their butts on the field or the court trying to excel at athletics, oftentimes to help win or maintain scholarships so they could get an education."

"Students agreed that by being student-athletes that they could not exploit their personal commercial value, an agreement they lived up to. "The same cannot be said about the NCAA or its partner Electronic Arts."

[UPDATE] GameSpot sister site CBS Sports has learned that Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled a number of class-action lawsuits today. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, though CBS Sports points out that the deal will affect more than 100,000 current and former college players who have appeared in EA-produced basketball and football games.

Earlier today, EA announced that it had canceled 2014's next-generation college football game.

"I'm disappointed in that because there should be a game," said the plaintiffs' attorney Eugene Egdorf. "All that has to happen is the NCAA allow players to be paid and there would be a game. This is Step 1 to players being paid that should."

"There will be players who play Saturday who should be paid [for their services] as they should be," he added.

The original story is below.

Electronic Arts has canceled its 2014 next-generation college football game and is evaluating plans for the brand going forward, the company announced today.

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"Today I am sad to announce that we will not be publishing a new college football game next year, and we are evaluating our plan for the future of the franchise," EA general manager of American Football Cam Weber said in a statement.

"This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year."

Explaining the decision to cancel the game, Weber said EA has been "stuck" in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who are seeking compensation for playing college football. This is likely referring to former UCLA player Ed O'Bannon, who--along with other former players--is suing the NCAA, EA Sports, and the Collegiate Licensing Company over the use of their likenesses.

"Just like companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel, we follow rules that are set by the NCAA--but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes," Weber said. "For our part, we are working to settle the lawsuits with the student-athletes. Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game."

The NCAA ended its relationship with EA Sports for college football games in July. EA signed a new, three-year agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company later in the month, though this contract now appears to be in question.

"The ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences have left us in a difficult position--one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience, which is the very foundation of EA Sports game," he added.

Weber said EA is working to retain developers on the college football development team by placing them elsewhere inside the EA Sports organization. It is not clear if there will be any layoffs as a result of this decision.

NCAA Football 14 was released in July

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