NCAAF players can opt in to EA Sports College Football 25, get paid for first time

College football players will now be able to opt in for EA Sports College Football 25. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman, File)

For the first time in more than a decade, EA Sports will be releasing a college football video game. And while fans celebrate the arrival of EA Sports College Football 25 this summer, no group is rejoicing more than NCAAF players.

On Thursday, more than 11,000 college football players will have their first chance to opt in and get paid for use of their likeness.

Since EA Sports put out its last college football game — NCAA Football 14 — on July 9, 2013, the company has come up with a new system to deal with name, image and likeness.

“We feel very proud that we’ll be the largest program, likely the highest-spending program,” Sean O’Brien, EA Sports’ vice president of business development, told ESPN. “And really an inclusive opportunity with an equitable distribution of funds across the board.”

Any player that opts in will be paid $600 and receive a copy of the game. EA Sports needed a school email to send the opt-in notice and confirmation from the colleges that said player is on the roster to add the athlete to the game.

If an player maintains their opt in throughout the duration of their career, then they’ll be paid annually. The compensation was determined by looking at how other games on the market were negotiated, and the money is guaranteed regardless of the game’s success.

If a player’s career ends, then they have the choice to remain or opt out of future editions. And as long as a transfer player remains on a roster, then they will also receive compensation. Teams will have a maximum of 85 players per school during the initial release.

“There’s nothing been done on this scale that EA is doing, where every student-athlete that participates in the game is guaranteed revenue,” said Cory Moss, the CEO of the Collegiate Licensing Company.

The opportunities for payment don’t stop there, O’Brien said. The company is looking to pay men’s and women’s athletes to help promote the game. Players can be paid for social media posts, advertising, on-campus spots and usage on the cover. This goes without mentioning the NIL opportunities that’ll splinter off from the creation of the game.

“The vehicle is obviously a college football game,” O’Brien said, “but we really want to celebrate the fact that we’re back in college in doing that.”

When Notre Dame announced on Tuesday that it would participate, that ensured all 134 FBS programs would be in the game. No FCS school will be featured, however, Daryl Holt, EA Sports’ senior vice president, told ESPN.

Holt, who also serves as the group general manager of Tiburon Studios and American Football, said EA Sports worked with schools to get roster photos to create likenesses.

The plan, O’Brien said, is to be here for the long haul. Whether college players unionize or the college football landscape changes again, EA Sports believes it has properly prepared for what lies ahead.

“We feel very confident that nothing that happens in the future will put us in a position where we’ll have to exit because of the strategy we’ve implored right from day one,” O’Brien said.

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