January 25, 2020

The Revival of College Football Videogames?: Gridiron Champions

IMV’s Gridiron Champions, the game that hopes to fill the void NCAA Football’s absence left behind. Image: imackulatevisiongaming.com

Imagine this: It’s 2013. You are on Christmas break and are eagerly awaiting the start of college football bowl season. You decide to kill some of your hunger for college football by firing up your Xbox 360 and starting up one of your favorite games: EA Sports NCAA Football 14. You play on your favorite mode — Road to Glory, and lead your favorite team to a championship win as a freshman. Life is good.

NCAA Football 14. Image: mobygames.com

Unfortunately for fans, this tradition would come to a screeching stop after the 2013-2014 college football season, as publisher EA Sports would decide to end its beloved sports series amid legal troubles concerning the use of college athlete likenesses without pay. Since then, there has been a collective call for a new game in the series, but EA seems to have no plans to bring the series back. This has left a significant void for many players around the country. Insert iMackulate Vision Gaming: a startup that is aiming to bring virtual college football back to the market with a new game titled Gridiron Champions.

The Birth of a New College Football Video Game
This new game is meant to be a spiritual successor to the NCAA Football series. Alex and Kameron Lewis, founders of iMackulate Vision Gaming, stress that they want to create a game for the community to enjoy. It all started in 2016 after the conclusion of the second annual college football playoff, when Alex and Kameron Lewis decided that they couldn’t wait any longer for a new college football video game. They decided to take matters into their own hands and founded a Kick Starter campaign to, as they say, #BringBackGreatness by developing their own new college football video game. Even though the campaign failed to reach its goal, the Lewis cousins decided to go ahead with the project anyway. The decision to go ahead with the project was partly inspired by the support of key endorsements from pro athletes: Vadal Alexander of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, and Spencer Dinwiddle of the Brooklyn Nets.

The graphics in NCAA 14 are starting to look dated when compared to today’s sports videogame grpahics. Images: sportingnews.com, operationsports.com, goodbullhunting.com, sportingnews.com

What will the Game Be Like?
Little details of game modes are known right now, besides a play now game mode that will function similar to the play now mode of EA Sports Madden series. There is one key difference between this game and the old NCAA Football games, though. The first game will NOT feature any official NCAA teams, but rather a list of fictional teams to use in the game’s various modes. This gets around the issue of licensing and using player likenesses in a video game, an issue that ultimately led to the demise of NCAA Football back in 2014. This left many fans scratching their heads, as their favorite part of playing NCAA Football back in the day was recreating their favorite college football moments in the game. The folks at IMV have thought of this, and they tout that their game will be the most customizable college football experience to date, featuring the ability to create custom uniforms, stadiums, players, and fan atmosphere. The creators say that this will allow for the fans to “recreate pageantry” through their college football video game experience.

An early in-game image of a prototype for Gridiron Champions. Image: imackulatevisiongaming.com

Conclusion: A New Era of College Football Video games?
The success of this game will come down to the community. One thing that has kept NCAA Football 14 alive throughout the years is the community-updated rosters, with new versions being uploaded to EA Sports servers every year. The updated rosters are nice, but with the game still running on PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 level graphics, a new title would definitely be well-received. The game is planned to ship in 2020, and if it is successful, IMV has already stated that they plan on making a sequel with officially licensed teams. They also have expressed interest in potentially expanding into college basketball, a genre of games that hasn’t seen a title since 2008. We will see if this new idea for a game takes off. I personally am hopeful for the future, though, and am excited to see that fans are working to bring college sports back to video gaming.

Zach Ferenchak

Zach Ferenchak is a current Junior studying Emerging Media with an emphasis in PR. Along with managing social media for The Chimes, Zach serves as the Chapter President for Capital University's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. He is an avid communicator who hopes to one day elevate brands and causes through effective storytelling. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn

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