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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NeenekoAh, that old straw man. That is one of the ironies about the discussion, the whole point is showing how good people can still have problems with sexism and not realize it.09/17/2014 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenYes, there have been a handful of op-eds suggesting that the term “gamer” has become tainted (two that I know of) but that’s the opinion of only a few. I've seen an equal number from those who disagree.09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenExcept, you haven't provided a single example of a site that’s actually calling gamers a "collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling Manchildren."09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
TechnogeekIf you want to make the stereotype of gamers less painful, try calling people out when they do bad shit rather than handwave it away as "not all gamers". Even if it is a few bad apples, that'll still more than enough to spoil the barrel.09/17/2014 - 8:53pm
quiknkoldI'm not going to Sell Gamergate anymore. It can sell itself. But I will sell the integrity of the Gamer. That we are still good people, who create and donate to charitys, Who engage with those around us and just want to have a good time.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldpeople should not be harrassed and punished for the actions of a few. I've always welcomed and accepted everybody who wanted to join in. Who wanted to make them, or play them. I love good strong female protagonists, and want more.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldOne of the tennants of Gamergate is to stand up against Harrassment. That Gamers arent like those assholes. We can argue for days if the Sexism or Antifeminism or corruption is there or not, But the one thing I believe in and wear on my sleave is that09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldBut there were these websites, attacking me and people like me, for the actions of a few. and then others joined in on Twitter and other places. there was a hashtag that said "explain in 4 words a gamer" and it made me sick.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldManchildren who are awful people and that the Identity of the Gamer should die. This hurt me personally. I've always identified as a Gamer. Even in my childhood years, I was a Gamer. All my friends are Gamers. Its one of the core parts of my identity.09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldUltimately, With the whole Gamergate thing, I jumped on it due to the harassment. A small number of assholes harrass Anita and Zoe, and then all the publications lumped together Gamers as this collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldEZacharyKnight : Lemme ask you a question. We have people who cling to walls, people who fire lasers from their eyes, people who can shapeshift....and yet fabric needs to be upheld to RL physics?09/17/2014 - 6:54pm
james_fudgebody paint?09/17/2014 - 5:33pm
E. Zachary Knightquiknkold, I stand corrected on the buttcrack thing. Still, I know of no fabric that actually does that.09/17/2014 - 5:05pm
Andrew EisenSo... it's unethical to discuss the ethics surrounding public interest vs. personal privacy?09/17/2014 - 4:45pm
prh99The source for the game was just released not long ago, it's at https://github.com/keendreams/keen09/17/2014 - 4:43pm
prh99An Indiegogo champagin bought the rights to the early 90's game Keen Dreams to make it open source and release it on GOG etc. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-get-keen-dreams-re-released-legally09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
james_fudgeAlso http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite09/17/2014 - 4:29pm
Andrew EisenI read the Kotaku story. Nowhere does it say anything close to "Gamers are white bigoted sexist losers." It's commenting specifically on the crap being slung at people discussing gender issues in games. So, what's the problem?09/17/2014 - 4:06pm
Andrew EisenYeah, I can imagine Spiderwoman posed like in your second link.09/17/2014 - 4:00pm
Andrew EisenThat's not the same pose. Spiderman (who is wearing an actual outfit rather than body paint) is crouched low to the ground. Kinda like a spider! Spiderwoman has her butt up in the air like she's waiting to be mounted.09/17/2014 - 3:59pm
 

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