College Football 25 Coming In July, Will Compensate Players For Being Depicted

Written By Adam Hensley on May 28, 2024
Fans and mascot at a USC Trojans football game, symbolizing the release of EA Sports College Football 2025

The video game EA Sports College Football 25 is set to be released this summer after more than a decade of hype.

The last installment in the popular NCAA football game series came in 2013 with NCAA Football 14. This year, though, players are being compensated for being in the video game thanks to new rules on the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

In other words, fans of USC, UCLA, Stanford, and other California schools can play with real-life student-athletes in the game.

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know.

Why Did EA Sports and the NCAA halt the NCAA Football video game?

EA Sports stopped producing the popular video game series due to a lawsuit over NIL.

Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, led a class-action suit against the NCAA. The lawsuit named EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company as co-defendants, arguing that the NCAA was using players’ likenesses commercially but not compensating them properly.

Players appeared in the college football video games, but not by their name. Players in the game looked identical to their real-life counterparts but were listed by their number instead.

EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled with O’Bannon and the other plaintiffs. EA Sports, to continue making its hit game, noted that it wanted to pay players, but the NCAA was not on board. NIL rules were not a reality back then, and production on future games halted.

How is EA Sports compensating athletes in College Football 25?

Earlier this year, EA Sports reached out to thousands of college football players. Those who opted to be depicted in College Football 25 will receive at least $600 and a copy of the game.

EA Sports said it contacted more than 11,000 current student-athletes, according to a tweet from John Reseburg, the company’s VP of global marketing, communications, and partnerships.

Not all athletes opted in, as evident with Texas quarterback Arch Manning, who declined the offer. But given that 11,000 figure, it seems EA Sports was prepared to spend a minimum of $6.6 million to get players to agree to appear in the game.

Athletes can make additional money from marketing

EA Sports noted that student-athletes can earn more money by promoting the video game. The company did not disclose details on compensation, but it’s another potential revenue option for players.

When College Football 25 is officially released, it’s not out of bounds to expect current players to appear in commercials advertising it. And it’s not unreasonable to speculate that athletes could also be compensated for promoting the game on social media. Those types of ads are different, and presumably, the compensation for them would vary.

How much do NFL players in the Madden games make?

Much like college athletes, NFL players make money by appearing in the Madden NFL video game series. But the specifics of those earnings aren’t public.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) handles the relationship, just as it does with jerseys. If a player is a member of the NFLPA, they will be in Madden. And all players, regardless of their popularity, will be compensated equally for their appearances in the game.

JC Tretter, a former NFL center and the current NFLPA president, shed some light on the subject with a post on the association’s website. It said, in part:

“EA Sports can make NFL Madden, Pepsi can use NFL players in advertisements, and Fanatics can make official merchandise featuring NFL players because they partner with us. NFL Players Inc. uses the revenue generated from those macro deals to both operate our union and pay our members an equal-share royalty payment.”

Is EA Sports doing enough to compensate student-athletes?

In the grand scheme of things, EA Sports could probably offer more money to the players who opt into the game. Six hundred dollars is a lot of money to some college athletes, and it’s a step in the right direction.

There’s plenty of hype around this year’s NCAA football game being released after a decade-long hiatus. The last game, NCAA 14, sold more than 1 million copies in its first week on the market. This year’s game will likely surpass that mark by a wide margin.

Chris Vannini of the New York Times noted in one of the publication’s newsletters that many student-athletes would be on board with appearing in the game for free.

“Almost every college football player I’ve talked to at various media days has said they’d do it for free,” he said.

In that same piece, Vannini made a good point: college players don’t have any leverage. Unlike in the NFL, they have no players’ association to argue for more money on their behalf. That could change in the future, with the NIL landscape continually shifting. But for now, players have two options: Opt in and receive $600 and a copy of the game, or sit out.

When will fans be able to play College Football 25?

EA Sports announced that the game will be available on July 19. The company will offer a deluxe edition that includes three-day early access, which will be available on July 16.

College Football 25 can be played on the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S.

Photo by Jae C. Hong / AP Images
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network.

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