In a move that's part legal posturing, part hard line stance, the Southeastern Conference has followed the lead of college sports' governing body in announcing that they will not be licensing their trademarks in EA Sports' next edition of their annual college football video game. While this doesn't forbid the league's members from individually licensing their team's registered trademarks (logos, uniforms, stadiums, etc), it certainly suggests a reason for pause from a liability standpoint amongst their parent organization.
Closer to home, what this may culminate in is other power conferences like the Big Ten electing to follow suit to protect their own interests and further disassociate themselves from the current litigious climate of college sports game licensing. While it's possible EA is able to sweeten the pot enough to get individual schools like Ohio State to buy in, the PR implications make it less likely by the day.
From a college football video game fan perspective, here's what we're looking at as probable take aways/net results:
- There won't be any animations of a team winning the "Southeast US" conference title in the game holding up a novelty SEC placard. Getting the Georgia Dome to license itself is probably already something EA Sports has secured, but the event as a whole certainly won't 'be in the game' the way we've been accustomed to in recent years.
- You won't see any SEC logos at the 25 yard lines of any of the stadiums in the league, if we ultimately see those teams' likenesses at all. The Alabama Elephants, Baton Rouge Bengals, and Texas Farmers could be playable teams a la old school Nintendo/SNES games in the first next generation console edition of the game.
- The snow ball effect of this whole situation suggests more of the latter sooner rather than later. If the individual institutions start to fear for their own liability for shadow licensing of their student athletes' likeness, the onus on them to cover their rears will become more appetizing as more and more subscribe to a like minded ideology take actions to publicly disassociate themselves from the culture surrounding the game.
Sure, the student athletes involved probably deserve *something* for their attributes being represented without any form of compensation. But for the college sports gaming enthusiasts amongst us, even if it serves a greater good, the lack of realism will certainly make the proposition of playing such a game less appealing than it once was.