College football video game to release in 2020; 'Gridiron Champions' vision of two Alabama men

It's been a long journey for Alex and Kameron Lewis.

The two cousins from Mobile, Alabama, grew up playing college football video games. Needless to say, there has been a void in that gaming arena.

After years of behind-the-scenes work, the two men - and their company iMackulate Vision Gaming (iMackulate or "IMV") - announced Monday plans for "Gridiron Champions," a college football video game.

The release is set for 2020, and gamers will be able to purchase and use, via digital download, through services like the PlayStation, Xbox and Steam on-line stores priced at $59.99.

AL.com first brought you the story of Alex and Kameron back in 2016.

Alex and Kameron Lewis are planning to launch their video game, through their company IMV Gaming.

 "The reaction from the press release has been overwhelmingly positive," Alex Lewis told AL.com in a phone interview on Monday. "We're excited. We've been working so long in silence, trying to build up to this point with the investment group to get everything set up, so we're excited to get this out."

"Gridiron Champions" is expected to offer gamers the opportunity to customize player uniforms, stadiums, fan atmosphere and recreate pageantry though this unique college football experience.

"There is no college football game on the market that offers a creative experience like 'Gridiron Champions,' and we're excited to be the first to hit the marketplace in 2020," Lewis, CEO of IMV, said.

Back in 2016, the financial goal was to raise $2.5 million to develop the video game. On Monday, Alex Lewis was proud to announce that goal has been exceeded.

"We currently are in an agreement with an investment group, who has agreed to invest in excess of $10 million to the development and operational costs - and possibly the licensing costs within the first or second edition of the game," he explained.

"We're not trying to guarantee anyone it will be in the first edition, but we definitely want to pursue that in the second edition."

What that means is in the first edition, in all likelihood, gamers won't see their favorite team names or mascots, due to licensing costs as discussed back in 2016.  

One of the biggest issues with any game, as gamers know, is the likeness of current student-athletes, which was the cornerstone of the Ed O'Bannon case.

The lawsuit filed against Electronic Arts (EA Sports) and the NCAA resulted in the discontinuation of the college video game franchise.

O'Bannon was the lead plaintiff in O'Bannon v. NCAA, an antitrust class action lawsuit filed against the NCAA on behalf of football and men's basketball players over the organization's use for commercial purposes of the images of its former student athletes.

As it plans the roll-out, IMV Gaming is working on the next steps such as discussions with game developers in the manufacturing partner selection process as well as the future games for 2021, which include a potentially licensed version of Gridiron Champions and potentially a college basketball experience.

 Alex Lewis said the development of the game will take 18 months. He said 2019 is still a possibility, but he wanted to give people a more "realistic" drop date.

The game will soon be available to view through a featured demo/video. Continued gamer pre-launch sales are offered through their website at imackulatevisiongaming.com.

"It's been a long, hard journey, whether in silence or the public eye," Alex Lewis said. "From the beginning, it just started as a general idea and a concept. We did our research and our due diligence. We used the philosophy "brick by brick" to get us to this point. 

"What really got the investing group's attention was the culmination of all the small (stuff) we were able to build up to this point. It's very exciting to build something organically. And when you build something like this, you just realize that nothing happens overnight."

After working for more than two years toward "Gridiron Champions," IMV Gaming joined forces with Oakland Raiders' Vadal Alexander and Brooklyn Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie as early founding investors.

"Our current sponsorships and partnerships include, but are not limited to Xenith, Phenom Elite, Signing Day Recruiting, and Gridiron Football Helmets," Rusty Sugg, Chief Operations Officer, said in a release. "We pride ourselves in maintaining a direct connection with our target audience."

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.