In February of 2021, EA Sports announced that it would bring back a college football video game, likely NCAA 23, for PC and consoles.
Last week, it was reaffirmed that EA Sports is looking to release this college football game in July of 2023. NCAA 23 will be EA Sports’ first college football video game in ten years since the series was discontinued in 2013.
There must be reasons to be excited. There must be reasons why a new college football video game is a good thing for the Florida Gators. There must be reasons why NCAA 23 will have many improvements over NCAA 14.
There’s only one problem, NCAA 23 is going to be terrible.
and you know that.
EA Sports is in the game
In 1993, Bill Walsh College Football was released on Sega Genesis and Sega CD. The Super Nintendo version came out in 1994.
These games had no official licensing of college teams or players, but a team like the Florida Gators did cut the 24 teams included in the game.
Improvements and an official license will be added over time and the series will be officially renamed under the NCAA banner in 1997 with NCAA 98 (Danny Werfel appears on the cover).
While the NCAA has always had many similarities to its older brother Madden, the NCAA has had a charm that Madden can’t always replicate. The sheer number of teams and play styles within College Football have allowed users to constantly create new and unique matches. Taking over a humble MAC school and building it into a National Champion was a feeling you can’t get in Madden.
It was always fun to pick the Florida Gators, easily set the difficulty, and destroy all the UF competitors.
You guys get paid?
While the series used real teams and real stadiums, there were no official players in the game. The NCAA rules were still in the dark age and the NIL didn’t even exist.
But list numbers always reflect factual lists. It was no coincidence that in NCAA 09, the Florida QB ranked 15th and was a solid sprinter. And when online gaming started becoming a thing, users also had the ability to share custom mods to menus. With the click of button #15 he magically became Tim Tebow and all was well.
This helped boost exposure not only to established powers like Florida, as everyone will want to play like them online, but also some smaller schools that have interesting players that can be incorporated into your strategy.
One of my memories of the series was playing in Oregon online just because the Rodgers brothers (James and Jackies) were really fast and I kind of like to win online without having to use the top ranked team.
The fun will end though, thanks to Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit. The former UCLA basketball player sued the NCAA arguing that his name, photo, and likeness were used in NCAA Basketball 09 without his permission. The case would eventually develop into a class action that argued that as many as 100,000 current and former athletes had used their form in video games without compensation.
O’Bannon’s suit will cause EA Sports to halt the NCAA series, but it will also help pave the way for today’s landscaped NIL college sports.
NCAA 23 would be terrible
Study history out of the way. When EA Sports discontinued the series after NCAA 14, the game was still in good standing. Released on PS3 and Xbox 360, the gameplay was still going strong and the game still has its charms on the Madden series.
In his absence, the dedicated online community has continued to make roster updates every season and NCAA 14 continues to be a highly playable game to this day for those looking to get their college football fix.
So if you’re excited about what NCAA 23 could look like after ten years of technological improvements, don’t.
The Madden series has provided a blueprint for what EA Sports will do with the series.
The SoftDrink TV YouTube channel has a lot of high quality videos that tell how Madden has gone downhill since moving to PS4/Xbox One and hasn’t improved since moving to PS5/Xbox Series X.
The series removed many of the features that were in the game, the gameplay became so stagnant that the Madden Bowl champion in 2020 won the tournament without throwing a single pass, and the franchise mode was completely discarded in favor of the micro-transaction torn Ultimate Team mode.
When you download NCAA 23, I guarantee that the first thing you will be greeted with is a list that will push you into the NCAA Ultimate Team.
And they’ll market it with things like, “Imagine Tim Tebow throwing Peter and Eric!” or “Now Maurkice Pouncey can ban Warrick Dunn!”
I don’t want to do that.
I want to load the game, start a dynasty with Anthony Richardson at the helm, and prove to Dan Mullen why he’s supporting the wrong guy in 2021.
“But Ben, the game will still have a dynasty mode. You can still do that.”
Yes, and it would be terrible. Madden’s franchise mode is so bare bones that most of the decisions you make are surface-level choices and have no actual impact on your franchise. They tried the Coaching Crew this year and you can assign and fire coaches to all of your employees.
This was their big marketing pitch for the franchise this year, something you can actually do at NCAA 07.
NCAA 23 should provide an opportunity for Gator fans to re-establish the Florida brand. But in reality, the game will push you to do anything but play as the Florida Gators.
And the game will reward calling the same five plays over and over instead of using actual football logic.
And the game will find a way to soak up any of the magic that makes college football what it is.
NCAA 23 would be awesome. and you know that.
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