Madden Creator Sues EA Over Royalties

Robin Antonick, who is credited with programming the very first Madden game, is suing Electronic Arts for royalty payments he never received. With 85 million copies sold to date that could prove to be a lot of money if Antonick prevails in court. Antonick is asking for a jury trial in California in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. He claims that EA cut him out of the Madden franchise fortune.

Antonick claims that he created the football video game and had signed a development contract with EA in 1986 that entitled him to royalties on "derivative versions" of the Madden franchise.

"Only recently, as a result of publicity surrounding the 20th Anniversary of the Madden videogame did Antonick become aware that Electronic Arts did not independently develop subsequent versions of its Madden NFL software," says the complaint filed in California. "Instead, according to recent statements by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the current generation of software apparently derived from software developed by Antonick."

Antonick is seeking "tens of millions" in royalties, disgorgement of all profits from the sale of the game as the result of "fraudulent behavior." The Madden NFL game franchise has generated more than $4 billion in profits since its launch more than 20 years ago.

Antonick says that he has not received a royalty payment from the game since 1992.

Over the past couple years, EA and Antonick have supposedly engaged in confidential settlement negotiations. EA denies this claim.

"The complaint and its 20 year-old claim are utterly without merit," EA spokesperson Tiffany Steckler told the Hollywood Reporter. Commenting on alleged settlement talks, she added, "We never offered to pay Antonick a penny."

Source: The Hollywood Reporter by way of No High Scores

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  1. 0
    Left4Dead says:

    Or just stay away from developing sports games that have three letter organization names at the pro-level that pay most players over $200,000/year (NBA, NFL, MLB…)

    There are lots of obscure sports out there.  I’m sure curling and the caber toss would be fun as video games.

    – Left4Dead

    Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

    -- Left4Dead --

  2. 0
    Overcast says:

    According to copyright law..

    "A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”."

    Kinda sounds like it is. It’s a newer version of the C64 version. It’s still called the same thing, more or less.

    Depends on the contract’s wording of course.

    Still, typical of these companies to be hell bent on DRM until it means they have to ‘pay the artist’. In spite of the ‘protecting the artists’ rhetoric.

  3. 0
    Kommisar says:

    I find it very difficult to believe that modern versions of Madden still contain legacy code from the Commodore 64.

    I would venture to say that even stat and roster tracking algorithms (which are about the only thing the games could possibly still use) have been written from scratch several times over since 1986, especially since most C64/Apple2/etc games of that era were written almost exclusively in assembler.

    And Trip Hawkins hasn’t been at EA since 1991 (?), which pre-dates the original PlayStation, N64, and any other console that would have prompted the transition to a polygon based 3D engine for the franchise… so I don’t know if I’d want to base a lawsuit on something the ol’ tax dodger might have said recently…

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