If you're like me, there's a good chance that you miss playing the NCAA video game series by EA Sports. I mean, I really miss this series.
I vividly remember pre-ordering this game every summer, admiring and trying to mimic cover athletes like Darren McFadden from NCAA 09, or Mark Ingram from NCAA 12 (I guess there was "too much Bama in me").
Often, I'd bounce between bringing a team like Tulane or Central Michigan some fame in Dynasty Mode, or creating a dual-threat QB in Road To Glory mode, who brought home national titles and Heisman trophies to The U.
Recently, a company called iMackulate Vision Gaming (a subsidiary or iMackulate Vision LLC) has been making waves in the gaming world for a project called "Gridiron Champions™". This will be the first college football video game to be released since NCAA 14.
I reached out to IMV Gaming and asked them some questions about the game, their time frame for release and other useful tidbits. We conducted an interview via e-mail, due to scheduling. I was able to get a lot of good information, despite not being able to physically to founders Kameron and Alex Lewis (their schedules are busy at the moment getting ready for the launch of a Kick-Starter project).
Here's what I got:
Blain Bradley: How did IMV Gaming start? Can you give us a little background on the company, and your passion for college football?
IMV: Our parent company is called iMackulate Vision LLC. The focus of our parent company is marketing. Their operations include, but are not limited to, graphic design, photography, and video. iMackulate Vision Gaming is a separate division within the company that we are also legally licensed to operate under. Our game "Gridiron Champions™" will be the first title that the company has been involved with.
With that being said, we intend to treat this game as our baby. We intend to do everything in our power to make sure that everything on the development side is done right with the community’s interest at heart because this game is our one and only focus.
Our founders, Alex Lewis and Kameron Lewis, are cousins that have an authentic passion for college football and seeing the game return to the video game market place. Alex is a recent graduate from Troy University and Kameron is a current engineering student at Bishop State Community College. Neither of our founders are developers, but they have experience in the realm of business and marketing. What they may lack for in experience as far as game development they make up for in passion!
Currently we have two developers on our staff. Our developers currently specialize in digital art, 3D/Concept art, and environmental design. They are graduates of Ball State University and Utrecht School of the Arts. Their skills include, but are not limited to: High poly modeling, high to low poly retopology, UV Unwrapping, Texturing, Concept Design, and Architectural Visualization. With that being said, we still currently recruiting to find the best developers to add to our team and are also talking with current companies about possible partners.
Also, the reason we chose the name Gridiron ChampionsTM, is because we wanted the name of our game to separate itself by creating an innovative, fresh and new name for a college football video game. It has come to our attention after revealing the name that many people wanted to see the game’s name to include "College Football". To that we would like to give our reasoning on why we chose not to do so.
After doing the proper research on college football video games, almost every game in the past has had that as apart of its name. For example, Bill Walsh Football that was released in 1993 evolved into the NCAA football series over time. Another example would be Sega Sports "NCAA College Football 2k" series that was released in the early 2000s.
We wanted to separate ourselves from all of these past titles by creating a title that we truly believe is the perfect example of what every fan, player and team strives to be every season. Of course, that goal is to be a CHAMPION! Also, we are interested in the possibility of adding "NCAA" and the year to the "Gridiron Champions" title. To add "NCAA" to the title of the game we would first have to secure licensing with the NCAA to avoid any legal ramifications. Lastly, we wanted to wait until we have a concrete release year before adding a year to our logo so that we didn’t mislead our fans. We are excited about the name "Gridiron Champions" and we are excited to tell the world more about what we have planned for our title!
BB: We haven't seen a college football game since 2014. A lot has changed since then. What inspired you to make a college football game?
IMV: My partner and I both grew up with the NCAA video game being a big fabric of our lives. A few years back when it was discontinued, it really left a hole in our hearts and our summers. After doing extensive research, we noticed that the community was so spread out. They all had the same goal in mind, but they were doing different efforts to bring the game back. For example, some community members where attempting to get the game to become backwards compatible and others were writing up petitions and asking for signatures. In Jan. of 2016, After finding out that the hear murmur EA released was an accident, combined with months of extensive perpetration and research and truly finding the undeniable demand for the game, we thought why not unify the college football gaming community in a effort to essentially help as we say #BringBackGreatness.
BB: What difficulties have you had in creating a college football game?
IMV: Game development has many unpredictable challenges, delays, and unexpected cost. Our founders have a plan in place to keep "Gridiron Champions™" on pace to release in 2019. We are constantly in meetings with other potential partnering companies and possible developers to join the team.
Another unique challenge that we have to face is acquiring the licensing to use different universities logos, jerseys and stadium design in "Gridiron Champions™". We have talked directly with Learfield Licensing and the Collegiate Licensing Company. They have both approved of our plans to use generic rosters in "Gridiron Champions". So, now all that there is left to do is to raise enough funding to pay for application fees and advance royalty fees.
Finally, the largest challenge is properly involving the community. We are actively interacting with our community, but are constantly seeking out a way to integrate fan feedback and contributions while keeping our project on track in terms of the vision of our founders. We truly value the relationship with our community including the faith and trust that they have in us to deliver a phenomenal college football video game.
BB: Your #BringBackGreatness campaign has made some noise on Twitter. What kind of tools have you used to market the brand? What are your future marketing plans?
IMV: Currently we are using Twitter, Facebook, our website and Youtube to promote our efforts. In the future we are looking forward to utilizing other platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Our Twitter handle is: @IMVGaming, and our Facbook and YouTube pages can be found under "iMackulate Vision Gaming". Our website link is: www.imackulatevisiongaming.com.
BB: I see that a Kick-Starter campaign is underway. Can you describe the fees, funding and financials needed to operate this project?
IMV: The Kick-Starter begins on September 2, 2016. All funds will be allocated towards hiring on an experienced full-time development staff that will assist us in creating the highest quality College Football product possible. Secondly, funds would be allocated so that we can secure licensing for universities to be featured in "Gridiron Champions™". Our funding goal is $850,000 with a stretch goal of $2.5 Million. Currently we have 13 Levels on our incentive list. The donation amounts currently range from $5.00 - $5,000. In regards to perks, we will be announcing those this coming week on our Twitter and Facebook pages. I can say that our goal in the creation of our incentive list was to create a list that would truly benefit and appeal to our supporters in the NCAA football video gaming community.
BB: Which game in the NCAA franchise was your favorite? What modes will you be looking to improve upon?
IMV: NCAA Football 2006 was definitely our favorite college football video game. It was the first time the College Legend mode was introduced to the game that obviously grew into Road To Glory mode later down the road. We also loved the impact player feature that was implemented in this game.
BB: What kind of reception have you received from the gaming and college football communities?
IMV: The gaming community and college football world has been very receptive of our efforts so far. There has been a very small percentage of doubt and negativity. We are excited about the possibility to prove the naysayers wrong and create a game that all of our supporters can be proud of.
BB: Here at SOTU we're all diehard Miami Hurricanes fans. I recently saw Duke Johnson won your mock card voting. Can you explain what this is?
IMV: The Duke Johnson card that you was is a Mock Card that our design team creates for the fans every week. This card will be featured in our "FANchise Mode" which is our version of [Madden's] "Ultimate Team" or "My Team". Obviously when the game is released we will not be able to use current players in this mode or acquire the NFLPA license due to their exclusive deal with Electronic Arts. Our plan is to contract the personal licenses to all interested former college football players that are interested in being featured in this mode independently. This opens the doors of opportunity for players who may have not panned out on the professional level to still reap the benefits of their hard work on the collegiate level.
BB: What kind of relationship are you aiming to build with NCAA coaches, players and fans? How will you make sure we're all on the same page?
IMV: Our aim is to establish a good standing relationship with the NCAA, players, coaches and consumers. In regards to the NCAA, we have already spoken with both major Colligate Licensing Companies that manage all of the schools licenses and they have approved our plans seeing that all that would like to feature in our game is the universities, stadiums, uniforms, logos, and traditions.
In regards to coaches, once Gridiron Champions’ development ramps up we intend to make sure that their school is depicted in a manner that they would approve and be proud of. We intend to set up meeting with the coaches, athletic directors and university presidents to show exactly how their school is represented on a yearly basis.
Lastly, the consumers are our number one priority! Our company truly has a mindset of caring for the members of the community. We take pride in taking the time to listen and focus on the community’s needs. It is our hope that we can use the information that we gather from them and implement it in our game. We want to update our community every step of the way, from the kick-starter to the launch of the game we want them to feel like they are apart of the development process.
BB: To close out the interview, I need to ask you about a time frame. What's the release date looking like, at the moment?
IMV: Our current tentative release year is 2019. We feel that choosing that year gives us the greatest opportunity to take our time developing a game that the community can be proud of and enjoy. The more support and funding that we receive the more likely that we will be able to get college football back into your consoles at a faster rate.