Sports video games have changed, and if we want to enjoy the best parts of NCAA ’24, we have two options: dig into our wallets or give up our social lives to play multiple hours a day.
From NIL to microtransactions, much has changed since NCAA Football ‘14
Those of us between the ages of 25-50 have been waiting a decade for the return of EA’s NCAA Football franchise, and in particular, the return of Dynasty Mode. Many of us grew up taking Navy to the BCS title game or winning 20 national titles in a row with the Sooners or Cowboys. Around this time next year, we finally get that chance with the long-awaited release of NCAA Football ’24.
Adding to the excitement is the hope that with new Name-Image-Likeness (NIL) rules, we can play with players that look like and have the same names as the ones we watch on Saturdays. This would require an agreement between EA and the players for NIL compensation. According to multiple reports, EA has earmarked $5 million for NIL compensation, which comes out to roughly $500 per player.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger last week, USC quarterback Caleb Williams spoke out against the reported offer, arguing that a flat fee wouldn’t be consistent with the current business landscape of college football. Even though Williams will bolt from USC before NCAA ’24 drops, the reigning Heisman winner makes a great point. If a 5-star quarterback can shop himself around to get more NIL money from USC or LSU, why shouldn’t he also be able to negotiate more money from EA Sports?
This would leave EA in a spot where they have to negotiate individually with some of the bigger names in college football, which will undoubtedly cost EA more money than they currently have earmarked for player NIL compensation.
So how does EA make that money back? The answer is, of course, from us.
Sports video games have changed, and if we want to enjoy the best parts of NCAA ’24, chances are that we are all going to have two options: dig into our wallets or give up our social lives to play multiple hours a day.
EA’s biggest sports franchise for years now has been their soccer franchise, FIFA (now EA FC ’24), and they have mastered the ability to make billions through microtransactions, which is the fancy term for the buying of in-game currency with actual US dollars. These transactions are sometimes as low as $0.99, but usually no more than $10-$15. Over time they add up in a big way. It’s like a “death by a thousand cuts” to your bank account. EAFC and Madden both do this with Ultimate Team, a game mode that allows the gamer to put together a squad of players from multiple teams and even multiple eras to create the “ultimate team.”
I expect NCAA ’24 to be different. Dynasty Mode is the hook for the NCAA football fan, not Ultimate Team, and you can bet that EA is going to do its best to monetize it. Will it cost us $4.99 to land a transfer quarterback from Ohio State or a 5-star defensive lineman? Can we add $1 million in fake money to our NIL budget for the low cost of $5.99 in real money? Could we pay $9.99 to upgrade from a 12-team playoff to a 16-team playoff?
Interesting features, no doubt. Features that we didn’t have in 2014. Features that we won’t get for free.
Sure, there’s always the option to play hours a day to earn enough in-game currency to unlock those features, but most of us are going to have to come to grips with the fact that the price we pay to buy or download NCAA ‘24 will just be the beginning of our spending.
Many gamers know that microtransactions are the way of the world now, but NCAA ‘24 is going to bring back some older or dormant gamers who are going to want that nostalgic feeling of leading their favorite team’s quarterback to a Heisman and then recruiting his 5-star replacement in the off-season.
Just like everything else in college football, it’s going to cost money, and if you don’t have it, you’ll be left behind.