Why no College Basketball Video Games for March is Simply Madness

As I fill out a bracket that will no doubt be null and void shortly after the round of 64, I kick back and smile at the upcoming joy that is the greatest playoff system in all of sports, the NCAA March Madness tournament.

It’s a tale of underdogs and goliaths. It’s one of men who aim to be heroes coming from all corners of the lands to do battle. From the heated debates regarding those involved, all the way to the moment one school, and one team, stand upon a pile of worthy, yet vanquished, foes to achieve the title of champion, there is no event in sports so epic and engrossing.

In fact, it would really make a great video game wouldn’t it?

This time every year, for the last few years, I have to remind myself there are no new college basketball games. The reasons why are nothing quite so epic as the famous tournament, but are as tragic as any great tale nonetheless.

Simply put college basketball games, unlike the NCAA Football games, didn’t sell well at all. Reports even put “NCAA Basketball 10,” the last entry in the field, selling just over 200,000 units total, which for a company like EA (the last developer to make an NCAA basketball game) was not cutting it. Combined with the always tricky NCAA licensing battles stemming from creating the likeness of college players in a game (and the historic so-so quality of the games themselves), from a business standpoint, the answer couldn’t have been more clear.

College basketball games had to go.

And you know what? It’s a damn shame.

While the games were never quite at the same level as their college football or professional basketball counterparts, EA’s series (and 2K’s before that for that matter) was improving leaps and bounds, and that strive to improve it each year washed away that “we’re the only game in town so deal with it” feel you sometimes get with their sports titles.

As for the sales, as atrocious as they were in terms of that type of game, as we near the opening rounds of the great tournament, I can’t help but feel like the biggest issue was the game’s typical release date around November, and not closer to the madness that is March for college basketball fans. Why you wouldn’t try to capitalize off of the frenzy surrounding that event remains beyond me.

Instead another NCAA tournament approaches and once again fans are left without a virtual option to forge their own tournament memories, unless they want to pay some absurd prices for one of the old entries. Even then, the online servers are long dead.

You can do a lot of things in video games and get away with it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to sell. College basketball didn’t, and now they’re gone. Unlike that plucky “Cinderella” team that comes just short of the big game though, there is no next year for college basketball video games. Instead there is just time for even the most feverishly adherent of fans to vaguely remember that once, there was a contender.


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