NEW YORK — Hang on to NCAA Football 2014, all you video game fans. It will be a collector's edition.
The NCAA said Wednesday it will no longer allow Electronic Arts Inc. to use its logo starting next year. The move ends a lucrative business deal with the gaming industry giant and comes as the NCAA fights a high-profile lawsuit that says the governing body owes billions of dollars to former players for allowing their likenesses to be used for free.
The NCAA said it won't seek a new contract with EA Sports, which manufactures the popular game, beyond the current one that expires in June 2014. However, that won't stop EA Sports from producing a college football video game depicting powerhouse schools like Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon, and the Redwood City, Calif.-based company made that clear.
"EA Sports will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks," said Andrew Wilson, executive vice president. "Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Co. is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature the college teams, conferences and all the innovation fans expect from EA Sports."
The company reported $3.8 billion in net revenue during its last fiscal year and, aside from its NCAA Football franchise, is well known for Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer and other games.
EA Sports first began making an NCAA Football game in 1998.
Todd Mitchell, senior analyst with New York-based Brean Capital, LLC, said losing the NCAA brand isn't likely to hurt EA Sports. He estimated NCAA Football accounts for only about 5 percent of EA Sports' revenue, or about $125 million.
"It's nice to have the brand but it's more about the characters," he said.
It could not immediately be determined exactly how much of what EA makes from NCAA football goes back to the NCAA and its members in licensing deals.
Analyst Colin Sebastian of R.W. Baird said EA Sports likely expected to lose its partnership with the NCAA.
NCAA Football allows participants to play as any major college football team, though unlike in its professional sports games, the names of players are not used. The similarities between the avatars in the game and actual college football players are at the root of a legal fight that could alter the way the NCAA does business in the future.