EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit Document Says

September 30, 2008 -

Although Electronic Arts isn't a defendant in Parrish, Adderley et al vs NFL Players, Inc., the megabucks generated by its Madden NFL series are at the center of the legal dispute.

The case, which will go to trial next month in San Francisco, alleges that the National Football League Players Association and its marketing wing, Players, Inc., prevented retired players from earning their fair share of licensing revenue. Money generated by EA's enormously popular Madden NFL series is the primary bone of contention.

According to former Buffalo Bills safety Jeff Nixon, newly-uncovered documents in the suit reveal that EA Sports obscured identifying information of retired players to skirt licensing payments. Nixon writes:

The documents... make it is crystal clear that the NFLPA conspired with EA to “scramble” the images of retired players in their Madden NFL Video Games...

 

The Class Action lawyers have more than a smoking gun to prove this; they have the person shooting the gun in the form of a letter fired off by former Players Inc. Vice President of Multimedia LaShun Lawson, to Madden NFL Game producer Jeremy Strauser that was cc’d to Doug Allen, then President of Players Inc. In the letter LaShun says:

 

“For all retired players that are not listed... their identity must be altered so that it cannot be recognized. Regarding paragraph 2 of the License Agreement between Electronic Arts and Players Inc, a player’s identity is defined as his name, likeness (including without limitation, number), picture, photograph, voice, facsimile signature and/or biographical information. Hence, any and all players not listed... cannot be represented in Madden 2002 with the number that player actually wore, and must be scrambled."

 

In the 2007 version of Madden NFL alone, more than 600 retired players... had their images scrambled. They are not identified in the game by their names and numbers, but the game lists their exact weight, height, years in the league, and position they played...

 

When a substantial competitor to EA [Take-Two] began to emerge for use of retired players, EA and Defendants rushed to enter into a contract locking up the most valuable retired players’ rights in exchange for payments that were admittedly below market. PI’s Senior Vice-President, Clay Walker, admitted as much in the following email:

 

“Take Two [the EA competitor] went after retired players to create an “NFL” style video game after we gave the exclusive to EA. I was able to forge this deal with [the Pro Football Hall of Fame] that provides them with $400K per year (which is significantly below market rate) in exchange for the HOF player rights. EA owes me a huge favor because that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there.”


Comments

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit ...

I'm surprised that there aren't more comments supporting this case. It's lack of respect. It's lame! Maybe the players today make a lot of money, but that wasn't always the case. If you are the name or star, you deserve credit and cash. I've been through something similar and when you don't get credit, it's a bad feeling. Throw money into the equation and it stings a lot worse.

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Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

You know, with all the crap EA's pulled and gotten flack for, I have to wonder: How are they still turning a profit?

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Funny thing is, Take-Two's NFL 2K5 did much the same thing, back in the day. It included a number of classic scenarios like "The Drive" and "The Catch"- in these, any player who was still active (and thus included on the then-current rosters anyway) was named properly, while those players who had since retired were called "Broncos QB" or "Giants RB" or whatever their team and position were. I'm not even sure they scrambled their numbers. This led to to rather amusing situation of having a 49ers squad consisting entirely of generic names except for one receiver - Jerry Rice.

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

This is a tough one for EA. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. In this case everything seems to be the NFL demanding EA do as it asks, and since the NFL controls the license they control the way the deal is handled. I can't imagine EA is happy about these players not getting their fair share. Yes they get more money if they don't have to pay these players, but right now EA needs good PR more than they need money. (Though give the economy another week and that might not be true anymore.)

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Ouch...

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

I'm not seeing the scandal here.

EA only has to pay if they use a player's likeness.  EA didn't want to pay for certain players' likenesses, so they didn't use them.  Was EA under an obligation to include all the players?  Was EA's efforts at obscuring them insufficient?  If the answer to both questions is no, this seems like a non-issue.

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Considering that likeness here is defined as including "...and/or biographical information." and according to the suit Madden uses "their exact weight, height, years in the league, and position they played..."

I'd say that yes EA's efforts at "obscuring" them was insufficent as it used their biographical information.

-Gray17

-Gray17

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Maybe this will finalyl get EA to wake the hell up.

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

I think these players are rich enough.

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Actually a lot of the older players AREN'T rich. They weren't given the kind of money guys are given today. They deserve a cut of the pie.

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Agreed Wholeheartedly. These player's played for pittance compared to what the new player's make today. Give them their due.

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Not to mention that not all players are paid all that much, even today. A rookie free agent who makes the team for a season or two before someone better comes along isn't exactly set for life, even if he's paid well enough (by ordinary-people standards) for the time he plays.

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

So tell me, how much money is too much money?

-Gray17

-Gray17

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

I think EA and NFLPA are rich enough to give the players their dues. This is freeloading from corporate entities that are profiting from it. I don't know if it's illegal, but it most certainly is completely unethical. A typical EA move.

-- http://pixelantes.blogspot.com/

Re: EA Hid Identities of Retired Players in Madden, Lawsuit

Maybe we should start calling this 'Maddengate'?


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E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
SleakerI think a large part of the controversy stems from the idea that games aren't culture setters, but culture reactors, and simply depict what is already in culture. So people don't care that games use tropes or are blind to them because we've failed ...08/29/2014 - 12:20pm
AvalongodBesides, what better way to make her point for her than to respond to her opinion by behaving like a misogynistic asshole. Sure, it may be a troll account, but that doesn't make it "ok"08/29/2014 - 12:19pm
AvalongodWhether Sarkeesian is "right" or "wrong" is not relevant, neither she nor any other woman should have to expect that her opinion will be met with death threats or even just sexist language.08/29/2014 - 12:18pm
Andrew EisenOh, may as well. Zip, I challenge you to cite three specific examples from the TvW videos (use direct quotes and time stamps) and explain how/why they ring hollow or are over exaggerated.08/29/2014 - 11:56am
Andrew EisenZip - Bullies on both sides? What both sides? And of course bullies are worse than people who aren't bullies.08/29/2014 - 11:23am
Neeneko(2) yes, male tropes also have problems and gender studies looks at those too. But this highlights a privilage problem, the idea that if male issues are not brought up too female issues should not be discussed.08/29/2014 - 10:42am
Neeneko@ZippyDSMlee - jumping back (1) one can acknowledge systemic problems without requiring every male be a Neanderthal.08/29/2014 - 10:42am
MaskedPixelanteI don't like the new 3DS, mostly because it means there's a good chance future 3DS games won't be compatible with the current models.08/29/2014 - 9:30am
ConsterI don't get why Amazon decided to buy this "Twitch" fellow, really. It took him ages to beat Pokemon.08/29/2014 - 8:31am
ZippyDSMleeIt goes without saying that we need to et rid of the bullies on both sides that are far worse than Sarkeesian or Quin will ever be.08/29/2014 - 8:24am
ZippyDSMleeI'm talking more about the genreal movement and how silly it is, as for Sarkeesian half of what she is says rings hollw while the other half tend to be over exsagerated.08/29/2014 - 8:22am
 

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