When the first version of a college football video game in years comes out next summer, the virtual likenesses of actual players will be in the game.
An EA Sports representative confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that it has contracted with OneTeam Partners to “facilitate collegiate athletes’ names and likenesses” into the game, solving one of the major questions about college football’s return to the video game space.
The partnership will include the chance for all eligible FBS players to opt in to have their likenesses in EA Sports College Football, the representative said. Those players will receive compensation for being placed in the game.
Details — such as how much an athlete will receive and the structure of payments — are still being finalized, but the EA Sports representative said the goal is to be “as inclusive and equitable as possible.” On the OneTeam website, the company stated that if the influence of individual sales couldn’t be figured out — including for video game licensing — then “revenue will be divided equally among the athletes included in each licensing program.”
If a player does not want to be in the game, EA Sports would create a generic avatar and player in that athlete’s place.
For participating players, it is possible a face scan of their likenesses could be in the game, the representative said, though not every athlete will receive a face scan because there are thousands of FBS players across the country. The representative said more than 120 FBS schools have committed to being in the game — along with all 10 FBS conferences and the College Football Playoff — with the goal remaining to have every FBS school in the game.
When EA Sports announced the return of its college football series in 2021, questions surrounding name, image and likeness were among the biggest it needed to answer. At the time, Notre Dame was among a small number of schools that indicated through statements or news reports that it would not agree to participate until NIL compensation was worked out.
Much has happened since many of those declarations, including the passage of NIL legislation and college athletes making money off their name, image and likenesses.
Following Wednesday’s agreement, officials at Wisconsin, Northwestern and Tulane said their schools would now opt in to the game.
A Notre Dame source told ESPN on Wednesday that the school had been in touch with EA Sports to help with NIL integration for the video game. It doesn’t seem, though, that Notre Dame has made a decision on being in the game.
OneTeam, which has partnerships with players’ unions, including the NFLPA, MLSPA and USWNT Players Association, has previously worked with EA Sports on the Madden football and FIFA (now EA Sports FC) franchises.