We may be a few months away from the next college football video game but that won’t stop us from getting the hype train going, albeit in a cautiously optimistic manner. As of this posting, EA Sports is planning to release the next installment of its College Football video game series in summer 2024 – a mere 11 years after the previous edition. EA Sports released a teaser trailer on February 15 and will have a full reveal in May.

It’s hard to underestimate this game on several fronts. There’s the pent-up demand for a new college football title, the sky-high expectations for an officially licensed game, and a chance for EA to begin to rehabilitate its image after a series of disastrous launches, just to name a few important factors. Let’s take a look at a long list of things we hope are included or properly managed in the upcoming college football video game.

A Good Launch and Sensible Microtransactions

EA does not have a great history of microtransaction implementation (see Star Wars Battlefront II), nor have they had a good track record of good video games recently (see almost any EA release starting with Battlefront II and after). It’s a tough balance to strike because there are going to be issues on day one, week one, and beyond. What fans don’t want is another Cyberpunk 2077 launch where everything is a complete mess (EA wasn’t involved in that launch but it was a high-profile disaster worth mentioning).

The real issue is how microtransactions will be implemented and given the immense popularity of Ultimate Team in other EA Sports franchises, it’s likely a collegiate version will be included. Another possibility for the Ultimate Team would be including former college players in the game but if EA gets greedy, what else might they put behind the paywall? Will it be cosmetic only such as the option to have 4th or 5th alternate jersey combinations? Or will it be some of the previous “base” features we’ve seen like certain stadiums? The ability to call timeouts? Imagine if they put create-a-school as a microtransaction or another popular feature. This is EA and we’re worried they’ll mess this part up. Not knowing what will end up behind the paywall gives an uneasy feeling for the relaunch of its college football series.

A Killer Opening Cinematic and Fight Songs

The opening cinematic probably isn’t necessary for most folks but it is cool to watch. Just look at the cinematic from NCAA Football 2002 and tell us it doesn’t get you pumped up to start up Dynasty Mode. Another thing we’d really like to see, and we assume most people do as well, is the return of fight songs. This is reportedly coming back based on reporting by Matt Brown of Extra Points, which is great news because it adds an authentic feel to the game. To be fair, the NCAA Football 06’s use of an actual soundtrack had some bangers on it but we still feel the 2024 edition should start with fight songs. (Perhaps EA will put licensed songs in the game and include them as part of the microtransactions?)

Create-A-School and Realignment Options

We couldn’t have been the only ones who liked to create our own school every year and then build the prestige to the max in order to compete for national titles, right? Let’s hope that comes back along with the ability to create a recruit. Previous NCAA Football titles had the option to realign conferences but we could never go beyond a set amount of schools in a season. We’d like to see that limit removed so we can create a school and add them to a conference without removing a current member (i.e. add a new school to the Big Ten to make it 19 or 20 schools). Is this possible with an additional 10 years of technological advancement? Honestly, we’re not sure but it would be a nice feature.

Keeping in the spirit of realignment, it would be great to have a customizable playoff bracket. Instead of being limited to 12 teams as the 2024 season will see, perhaps the user could change it to 8 teams, 16, or even 32 teams. There may be some limitations on how many teams can be included but having some customization would be awesome beyond the standard amount of 12 in 2024.

Playbook, Playstyle-Specific Recruiting Enhancements, and a Transfer Portal

We’ll be honest, we don’t remember every detail about recruiting from the previous titles and some of the ideas below may already be confirmed. We remember pipeline states, which we’d like to see return. We’d also like to see a different type of recruiting pipeline based on either a school’s historical play style or the current play style, which will be featured according to EA. For example, a team like Wisconsin could recruit offensive linemen and running backs more easily based on their being known for ground and pound style. Or a team like Oregon would recruit players with high-speed attributes to match their high-octane offense.

Of course, there are issues with this such as how to balance it when history doesn’t match the present. Wisconsin has been known for its running game but in 2023 it used more of a spread system, so how would the game handle that? It would make sense to have the historical game style decrease by X % each year after an offensive philosophy change. As the historical play style pipeline fades, the current play style pipeline could increase so they essentially flip. However, there might be some possible issues when implementing such an idea that hurt competitive balance or not being properly adjusted for AI coaching changes.

Finally, it would be great to see the inclusion of a transfer portal (also reportedly will be included). Previous titles did show when a player was transferring but to our knowledge, there was no option to try and secure transfer players. EA can even incorporate a recruiting budget like in previous editions that allows you to split how much you want to spend on recruiting high school athletes or opting to build a team via the transfer portal. It would be a fun spin on a concept that didn’t exist in earlier games.

A Comprehensive Challenge System, College Classics, and Mascot Games

One aspect of the previous NCAA Football titles was the challenge system… or lack of one. There used to be the Campus Challenge system that was based on achieving certain offensive or defensive milestones but not much could be done with the rewards. The next game could easily incorporate a more comprehensive challenge system that can have weekly, monthly, and lifetime challenges.

Having a challenge system would be a great incentive to set goals while playing and it can range from easy (complete 10 games) to a more difficult challenge like playing 60 seasons in Dynasty mode. While NCAA Football is fun on its own, using the challenges to set a target and requiring different playstyles to complete all challenges would add an additional element of fun. The main worry, as always, is how such a challenge system is designed and implemented (if it will happen at all).

Some editions of NCAA Football had iconic historical games that a player could try and recreate via College Classics. Including that feature – plus adding in some more recent all-time classic finishes – would be another excellent layer. Oh, and how about including the mascot games? As off-the-wall as these games were, it would be great to mess around having the Albert Gator (Florida) play against Harry the Husky (Washington) in the snow.

Improve the Dynamic AI… and HB Toss

The NCAA Football series has previously had numerous levels of difficulty ranging from Junior Varsity (easiest) all the way up to Heisman (the most difficult). One infuriating aspect of video games is the dynamic AI at the highest difficulty level and how it gives the feeling that it is “cheating” to keep the game close. For the FPS players, this is similar to skill-based matchmaking kicking in after a good game by throwing you to the wolves. There’s nothing wrong with a challenge but when the AI starts intercepting every pass, it becomes a bit over the top. Of course, one could use sliders to adjust for certain aspects of the game but an improved AI that that actually adjusts to a play style would be better. However, sliders should be brought back in case people want to adjust the AI beyond EA’s baseline or simply want to challenge themselves on certain aspects of the game.

Now for a random and personal improvement, it would be great to run the halfback toss/option pitch without taking a 5-yard loss every time. In every iteration of the game, these plays would go terribly without fail. Perhaps this is more of a user error and not a game problem…

Aspects That Aren’t Deal Breakers

The original NCAA Football series was derailed over concerns about the use of names, images, and likenesses of the players. While players can take full advantage of NIL in 2023 and beyond, we personally don’t care if all of the current players are featured. Yes, the players deserve to be paid for the use of their NIL but it shouldn’t stop this game from being released. EA has stated this won’t be an issue and is trying to ensure as many players as possible are compensated to be in the game but never underestimate greed, especially in college football. Randomly generated names and attributes will be acceptable for those players who do not opt-in since the main focus will be on dynasty mode where the players are only on the team for four or five years

There’s a clamor for FCS teams to be part of the next game and we’d love to see FCS teams included. However, it’s not a deal breaker if it’s going to be an afterthought or hurried inclusion. In addition, we hope FCS schools aren’t locked behind the microtransaction paywall, which is always a concern with EA. The reason this isn’t a dealbreaker is that we’d rather have a fully functioning base game even if it means waiting a year for the FCS teams to be included. It would be cool if all FCS teams were included in the game along with FCS conference schedules and a playable FCS Playoff. Asking for that might require additional time to obtain licenses, incorporate logos, build stadium models, etc. that would be better suited for the next release.


NCAA Football 2014 is held in high regard because it was the most recent college football video game to be released. We don’t want to make it sound like we simply want a 2014 re-skin with updated graphics and some small improvements. We’d like the best aspects from multiple years to return because this is the first game in over a decade but we’re being cautiously optimistic because the bar has been set so low for EA thanks to its previous game releases. EA is far from the only major studio to have poor releases, as it’s practically the newest feature of every major release from every big studio.

EA has to prove it can provide a solid base for the game before putting in a bunch of new features. Otherwise, we’ll end up with the collegiate version of Madden and no one wants that. Based on some of the assets provided to EA, the newest college football game is promising… well, as promising as it can get months away from release by the much-maligned EA studio.

Photo courtesy of EA Sports

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