A former EA Sports producer says that the NCAA games developed by EA Sports over the years were designed to replicate actual players without using their names. This is according to a deposition given by former EA Sports producer Jeremy Strauser, who testified in a deposition for the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA, Collegiate Licensing Company, and EA Sports. The deposition, along with other documents from the case are part of EA's filings with the court last week. Jeremy Strauser worked at EA from 1995 until 2011.
"We generally tried to make the players perform as their real life counterparts, short of their name and likeness," he testified.
Strauser also testified that he thought player ID numbers were randomly assigned alphabetically by team. When asked if an index existed of players IDs that could determine the player's actual name, Strauser said he did not know if that occurred on any given year while he was developing NCAA game but "generally there was not" such an index.
In another deposition, EA Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs Joel Linzner testified that he did not know what NCAA policies do or don't permit with video games, "but I do know that they approve the games insofar as they have university rosters with uniform numbers and positions, etcetera."
EA also produced emails that showed it had pushed for real player names to be used in the football and basketball video games. The NCAA's player eligibility rules prevent using actual names, Strauser said in his deposition.
Former NCAA athletes allege that the NCAA, EA and CLC violated antitrust law by conspiring to avoid paying money to athletes for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking to be certified as a class action. Both EA and the CLC have argued in court documents they should be excluded from the case.