In a major shift for video game publisher EA Sports, announced that it will allow players from certain FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools to opt in and receive compensation for their likeness in the upcoming EA Sports college football game, set to be released in 2024.

This announcement comes after years of controversy surrounding the use of college athletes’ likenesses in video games without compensation. In 2013, a lawsuit brought against EA Sports on behalf of former NCAA football players argued that the company had violated antitrust laws by using the players’ images and likenesses without permission or compensation. The lawsuit was ultimately settled for $40 million, and EA Sports stopped making college football games.

But now, with new NCAA rules allowing collegiate athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, EA Sports has decided to bring back its college football game and allow certain players to opt in and receive compensation in exchange for their likeness appearing in the game.

According to the announcement, EA Sports will work with each FBS school’s athletics department to determine which players are eligible to opt in, and the compensation each player will receive will be based on a number of factors, including popularity, performance, and social media presence.

“We’re excited to bring back college football in an authentic and respectful way, and we’re even more excited to compensate players for their role in making our game great,” said Cam Weber, EA Sports EVP and GM. “We believe this is a huge step forward for college athletics and we’re proud to be at the forefront of it.”

The announcement has been met with praise from many college athletes and fans, who have long advocated for players to be compensated for their likeness in video games. However, some critics have raised concerns about the potential for players to be exploited, and have called for greater regulation and oversight of the new compensation system. Regardless, the return of college football in video game form marks a major shift in the way college athletics are monetized and could have wide-ranging implications for the future of NCAA sports.

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