Reached for comment, an EA Sports representative told Polygon that initial information on NCAA Football Ultimate Team will be available today, with further details to follow on May 15.
GameStop pre-order customers will receive the exclusive SEC Conference Pack of cards for NCAA Football Ultimate Team; the pack includes "key SEC [Southeastern Conference] players and bonus game extension," says GameStop.
Ultimate Team is a fantasy-team mode with digital trading cards that has appeared in EA Sports' FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL, and NHL franchises. Players are given a starter collection of cards featuring real players from the respective professional leagues, and play games with their Ultimate Team in order to earn in-game currency to spend on additional cards. Users can also spend real money to buy card packs — Ultimate Team has proved lucrative as an additional revenue stream for publisher Electronic Arts.
Ultimate Team seems to be a curious inclusion for the NCAA Football series, since developer EA Tiburon cannot use the real names of college players in its games. The draw of Ultimate Team in Madden and FIFA is collecting digital trading cards of real-life athletes to build up a fantasy team of superstars, which would be impossible for Tiburon to do in NCAA Football.
Ultimate Team has proved lucrative as an additional revenue stream
There's a chance that Tiburon is putting non-active college players on its in-game cards, but the legwork and costs associated with licensing individual athletes would seem to rule that out. The studio could also take the route of the MLB The Show series and its Diamond Dynasty mode, which gives users fully editable fake players.
Further complicating matters is the looming NCAA licensing lawsuit originally filed in 2009 by former NCAA basketball star Ed O'Bannon. The suit alleges that the NCAA, the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) and EA worked together to profit off the backs of NCAA players without using their real names, while ensuring the athletes were never compensated; it is currently awaiting certification as a class-action suit.
Check out our NCAA Football 14 gameplay preview for details on what's new this year. NCAA Football 14 is set for release July 9 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.