NFL Retiree: EA Pays for Realistic Madden Weather But Won't Pay Us

August 24, 2009 -

Late last year, NFL retirees won a massive $28 million verdict against their former union, the NFLPA, when a federal court jury in San Francisco decided that the old time players' images had been used in EA's popular Madden series without their authorization.

Following an appeal, the retirees accepted a just slightly less massive $26.25 million settlement. Although EA was not a defendant in the case, there has been talk by at least one militant former NFL player that a similar suit against the publisher may be in the offing.

It's very clear that, despite the big settlement dollars, hard feelings linger among the retirees. One of the more outspoken ex-players, former Oakland Raider Dave Pear, bitterly notes that EA has licensed realistic weather for Madden, but won't pay to use former players, who no longer appear in the game. Pear writes:

Retired players are so sick and tired of getting ripped off every time they turn around. We recently came across an article that Electronic Arts was partnering with The Weather Channel to pay them for weather statistics to make Madden Football X more “realistic” – but they DON’T want to pay the retired football players themselves for their stats in order to make the game more “realistic”. I wonder when they’re planning on screwing around with the weather so they won’t have to pay for that either...

36 comments

Lawyers in Class Action Suit Vs. EA are Seeking Madden Buyers to Join In

August 19, 2009 -

Gamers who purchased a copy of Madden from August, 2005 onward may be eligible to join a class action suit against publisher Electronic Arts.

Pecover vs. EA (all GP coverage here) is currently proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit alleges that EA's exclusive licensing deal with the NFL and NFL Players Association created a monopoly situation which EA exploited by substantially raising the retail price for a copy of Madden.

In a story broken recently by GamePolitics, an expert witness hired by the plaintiffs theorized that EA's exclusive NFL/NFLPA license may have cost consumers nearly a billion dollars. Lawyers for EA have disputed that claim in court documents.

In a press release issued on Friday, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the law firm representing consumers in the case, provides a link where Madden buyers can learn more about the suit and potentially join as additional plaintiffs.

Lead attorney Steve Berman, quoted in the press release, pulled no punches in his assessment of EA's position regarding Madden:

There is nothing wrong with good, strong competition in a free market, but we believe EA rigged the game to take advantage of consumers.

EA knows that the demand for these games is based on how realistically the players and teams are portrayed. When EA signed into exclusive agreements it knowingly killed the only competing game of comparable quality, [Take-Two's] NFL 2K5.

62 comments

EA's NFL Exclusive Does Not Include Mobile Games

August 6, 2009 -

Although EA's exclusive licensing deal with the NFL and NFL Players Association has outraged some gamers and even sparked a class-action lawsuit, it appears that, while negotiating with league, the game publishing giant neglected to wrap up the mobile device rights for NFL games.

By way of example, BitMob points out that Gameloft has released NFL 2010 this month for iPhone/iPod Touch. Screenshots for the $7.99 App Store download clearly show actual NFL team and player names. The game appears to be available for non-Apple phones as well.

It seems quite puzzling that EA would let development rights for any platform slip away, particularly for the popular Apple platforms.  

-Doug Buffone, ECA intern

5 comments

Economist: EA's Madden Monopoly Cost Gamers Up To $926 Million

July 14, 2009 -

A University of Michigan economics professor estimates that Electronic Arts collectively overcharged Madden buyers between $701 million and $926 million during the years 2006 through 2009.

Dr. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason made his claim in a document filed last week with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Mackie-Mason was brought into the case as an expert witness by attorneys representing Geoffrey Pecover and Jeffrey Lawrence. The pair of gamers are named plaintiffs in a class-action suit alleging that EA used its exclusive licensing deal with the NFL to eliminate Take Two Interactive's competing NFL 2K series. The suit charges that EA then exploited the resulting competitive vacuum to dramatically raise the retail price of Madden.

While MacKie-Mason acknowledges that his estimates are based on incomplete data, he writes:

I provide this information for the limited purpose of allowing the Court to assess in rough terms the burden on Electronic Arts in relation to the magnitude of potential damages... Under California's antitrust statute, it is my understanding that these damages would be trebled.

MacKie-Mason arrived at the eye-popping figures using an estimated overcharge percentage that ranged from 50% to 66% for the 30.04 million units of Madden sold during the 2006-2009. He writes:

When Take-Two was able to compete unhindered, Madden NFL's competitive price was in the range of $19.95 to $29.95. I assume for this exercise that these would have been Madden's prices but for the alleged [monopolistic] acts.

Based on Mackie-Mason's estimate, attorneys for the plaintiffs have requested additional data for Madden sales going back to 2001. In a response, attorneys for EA agreed to supply as many of the requested documents as they could locate, but were unsparing in their assessment of Mackie-Mason's analysis:

EA respectfully submits that Dr. MacKie-Mason's analysis is fundamentally flawed on multiple levels. Indeed, Dr. MacKie-Mason's estimated magnitude of damages is nothing more than pure fiction - it has no basis in fact or law...

As GamePolitics reported last month, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the plaintiffs' monopoly suit could go forward, but limited the scope of the case to claims arising in California and Washington, D.C. where Pecover and Lawrence reside.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Read Dr. MacKie-Mason's estimate here... Read EA's response here...

NFL Players Union Reaches $26.25M Settlement with Retirees over Madden... Is EA Lawsuit Next?

June 5, 2009 -

Old school NFL players, angered by their uncompensated depiction in EA's best-selling Madden series, have won a huge victory against their former union in the case.

The Associated Press reports that National Football League Players Association has settled the lawsuit filed by NFL retirees for a whopping $26.25 million. GamePolitics readers will recall that in November, 2008 a federal court jury awarded the players $28.1 million, with 3/4 of that figure representing punitive damages. Jurors were clearly appalled by e-mails which showed that NFLPA officials conspired with EA to obscure the identities of retired players depicted on Madden's classic teams.

The NFLPA promptly appealed the verdict, but has now settled for an amount equal to 93% of the jury award. In other words, the NFLPA has capitulated. Attorney Ron Katz, who represents the retired players, praised new NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith and called the settlement "a real step to a reconciliation" with the union.

A formal announcement of the deal will come this morning in Washington, D.C. Former Packers and Cowboys DB Herb Adderley, a named plaintiff in the class action suit, is scheduled to speak, according to ESPN.

With the NFLPA suit resolved, the question now looming is whether the retired players will pursue legal action against EA for use of their unlicensed images in Madden. Although a key entity in the NFLPA suit, EA was not a named defendant. However, militant NFL retiree Bernie Parrish said in April that the retro players were looking into suing both EA and John Madden once the NFLPA case was over. Toward that end Parrish urged the establishment of a legal war chest. We note that former NFL player Dave Pear wrote on his blog yesterday:

We all need to put $1,000 into a war chest so we can continue our battle for justice and vindication! Bernie, please let me know where to send the money once we receive a check.

7 comments

In Wake of Legal Threats, Old Timer Teams Removed From Madden

May 18, 2009 -

Kotaku reports that "legacy" teams from past NFL seasons will no longer be included in any version of EA's best-selling Madden football game.

An unnamed EA spokesperson told Kotaku's Stephen Totilo that the decision was not entirely due to last year's class action suit in which NFL retirees won a staggering $28 million judgment against their former union, the NFLPA. While EA wasn't a defendant in the landmark suit, evidence at the trial showed that the NFLPA conspired with EA to "scramble" the identities of retired players so as to avoid individual licensing issues.

More recently, militant NFL retiree Bernie Parrish has been making noises about suing EA and John Madden himself over the use of the old players' images. The EA rep told Totilo:

[To say that the decision was based on the lawsuit] wouldn't be entirely accurate, because we haven't had legacy teams in Madden next-gen ever, and it was just a matter of getting some consistency across the entire franchise.

However, Fourth and Goal, a site dedicated to the interests of NFL retirees, has a different view on the news:

You’ve got to think that once the union was pounded with the $28.1M verdict the folks at EA Sports got more than a little nervous. After all, it was their company that produced the game and their employees that communicated with the union to scramble the images.

7 comments

Report: Retired NFL Players Plan to Sue EA, Madden

April 19, 2009 -

His days of calling NFL games on T.V. may be done, but John Madden's just-announced retirement might not be as idyllic as he had hoped.

According to a report on the blog of former Oakland Raiders lineman Dave Pear, NFL retirees are planning to sue both Madden and Electronic Arts, publisher of the best-selling pro football game which bears the former coach's name.

GamePolitics readers may recall that retired players won a staggering $28 million verdict against the National Football League Players Association last fall when evidence showed that the union suggested to EA that identities of retired players on historical teams be "scrambled" to avoid paying them royalties. E-mails revealed in the trial also showed that the NFLPA acted to block Take-Two Interactive from acquiring rights to former NFL players, thus preserving EA's monopoly position with regard to pro football games.

But militant NFL retiree Bernie Parrish, who was deeply involved in last year's win against the NFLPA, writes that EA and Madden himself are squarely in the players' legal sights:

The retired NFL players who were used in Madden EA video games will be suing Madden and EA for using us in those games without compensating us. Madden’s agent Sandy Montag boasts he and Madden collected over $100,000,000 in royalties while paying the retired NFL players used in those games absolutely nothing. Madden knows that the ugly truthful litigation is coming and is probably factoring that into his retirement. I doubt he wants to answer all those fans who will be asking, “Why, John Madden? Why did you screw all those retired players over, you seemed like such a friendly, good-natured buffoon?”...

No deals are going to be made because John Madden is moving his act to his home office where he will continue to screw over the retired players without having to face the fans around the country. Madden and Montag plan to continue licensing Madden without compensating retired players...

42 comments

EA Considered Dumping Brett Favre From Madden 09 Cover (and other juicy Madden cover info)

February 6, 2009 -

The recent class action lawsuit in which retired NFL players won a $28 million judgment from the National Football League Players Association continues to yield a treasure trove of information concerning the inner workings of EA's best-selling Madden franchise.

For example, transcripts of court testimony which were unsealed this week by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco show that NFL star Brett Favre's decision to retire from the Green Bay Packers in early 2008 almost got him dropped from the cover of Madden 2009.

EA exec Joel Linzner, who was called as a witness at the NFLPA trial, testfied about the dilemma which Favre's on again-off again retirement caused for EA:

Q: ...Madden NFL Game. And, in fact, that's been a very successful game for EA, correct?

 

JL: Yes, over 20 years.

 

Q: 20 years. In fact, the 2009 version was the 20th anniversary edition, right?

 

JL: It's the 20th of the Madden NFL series, that's correct.

 

Q: Right. And you chose to put on the cover of that a retired player at the time, right?

 

JL: Uhm, well, Brett Favre at the time we decided to put him on the cover was not retired, had not announced his retirement. He subsequently announced his retirement. We thought about replacing him to have an active player. But the logistics of making the packages are kind of complicated, and we decided to stay with Brett Favre. And I think as most people subsequently know, he revoked his retirement and is currently an active player with the New York Jets. 

Linzner also testified about EA's deal with Madden 2004 cover athlete Michael Vick, who was later arrested and jailed for animal cruelty. Hit the jump for more official testimony about Madden cover athletes Vick and Donovan McNabb.

8 comments | Read more

Analysts Weigh in on Madden's Mega Licensing Fees

February 5, 2009 -

Yesterday, GamePolitics broke the news that Madden publisher Electronic Arts paid the National Football League Players Association more than $35 million in licensing fees during 2007.

We asked a couple of financial gurus to comment on the eye-popping figure, which is buried within a massive document filed by the NFLPA with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Wedbush-Morgan financial analyst Michael Pachter told GP:

The [Madden licensing] deal is likely a guarantee of around $50 million total, and $35 million [going] to the players makes sense. The old deal was around $15 million per year, and I know that it went up substantially when renewed in 2005.
 
[EA sells] around 5.5 million copies a year, so they're burdened with [about] $9/unit in licensing. That's reasonable, on par with the royalty paid to the console manufacturers.

So, Mike, yesterday GP speculated that the league would get at least as much as the NFLPA from EA. Are you saying we were wrong and that the NFLPA actually gets more than the NFL?

Most definitely.

 

The product is the players, and the league used to get most of the money. The reason the royalty went up was the players, not the league. The league looks at the game as a marketing tool, but the players want to be paid for their likenesses.

Meanwhile, analyst Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company termed the $35 million paid by EA to the NFLPA "a gigantic number," adding:

I’d estimate Madden generates $350-400 million in revenue for EA annually.

 

12 comments

EA Paid NFL Players Union $35 Million in 2007

February 4, 2009 -

We always knew that EA's Madden franchise was a cash cow, but we didn't really appreciate the scale of the dollars involved.

Until now.

Despite winning a $28 million federal court judgment against the National Football League Players Association in November, militant NFL retirees continue to play offense against their former union. In fact, they're digging up all sorts of dirt.

During the class-action trial last fall, GamePolitics reported on damning e-mails between EA execs and NFLPA officials which showed the Madden publisher and the union conspiring to keep a lid on payments to retired players.

Now, former Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Dave Pear has posted the NFLPA's 2007 LM-2, a financial report required by the U.S. Department of Labor. The numbers contained therein are eye-popping, particularly EA's licensing payments to the NFLPA: $35,141,950.

Because the $35 million went to the player's union, we assume that figure does not include EA's licensing fees to the NFL for use of team names, logos, uniforms, stadiums and other data. We'd also guess that EA pays the league as much or more than the union for Madden licensing.

Big money, indeed.

For its part, the NFLPA is expected to appeal the $28 million verdict to a higher court.

GP: We should note that we do not at this point have any information on the number of years covered by the $35 million contained in the NFLPA's LM-2. However, we strongly suspect that it is for a single year, since all of the payments listed occurred within a 12-month window between March 1, 2007 and February 14, 2008.

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E. Zachary KnightIf you are downloading a copy in order to bypass the DRM, then you are legally in the wrong. Ethically, if you bought the game, it doesn't matter where you download it in the future.12/19/2014 - 12:06pm
InfophileEZK: Certainly better that way, though not foolproof. Makes me think though: does it count as piracy if you download a game you already paid for, just not from the place you paid for it at? Ethically, I'd say no, but legally, probably yes.12/19/2014 - 11:20am
ZippyDSMleeAnd I still spent 200$ in the last month on steam/GOG stuff sales get me nearly every time ><12/19/2014 - 10:55am
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante:And this is why I'm a one legged bandit.12/19/2014 - 10:51am
ZippyDSMleeE. Zachary Knight: I buy what I can as long as I can get cracks for it...then again it I could have gotton Lords of the Fallen for 30 with DLC I would have ><12/19/2014 - 10:50am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/12/19/marvel-vs-capcom-origins-leaving-online-storefronts-soon/ Speaking of "last chance to buy", Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is getting delisted from all major storefronts. Behold the wonders of the all digital future.12/19/2014 - 9:59am
MaskedPixelanteSeriously, the so-called "Last Chance" sale was up to 80% off, while this one time only return sale goes for a flat 85% off with a 90% off upgrade if you buy the whole catalogue.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
E. Zachary KnightInfophile, Tha is why I buy only DRM-free games.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
MaskedPixelanteNordic is back on GOG for one weekend only. And at 85% off no less, which is kind of a slap in the face to people who paid more during the "NORDIC IS LEAVING FOREVER BUY NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE" sale, but whatever...12/19/2014 - 9:28am
InfophileRe PHX's link: This is one of the reasons the digital revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. There's also the flip side where Sony can block access to games you've bought if they ban your account for unrelated reasons. All power is theirs.12/19/2014 - 8:52am
MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
PHX Corphttp://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/801575-sony-refuses-offer-refund-playstation-game-fraudulently-purchased-hacker Sony Refuses to Offer Refund for PlayStation Game Fraudulently Purchased by Hacker12/18/2014 - 1:43pm
NeenekoMakes sense to me, and sounds kinda cool. One cool thing about Minecraft is the meta game, you can implement other game types within its mechanics. There are servers out there with plots, an episodic single player one sound kinda cool12/18/2014 - 11:07am
MaskedPixelantehttps://mojang.com/announcing-minecraft-story-mode/ Umm... what?12/18/2014 - 10:24am
NeenekoThat would make sense. Theaters probably can not afford the liability worry or a drop in ticket sales from worried people. Sony on the other hand can take a massive writeoff, and might even be able to bypass distribution contracts for greater profit.12/18/2014 - 10:03am
ConsterNeeneko: I thought they cancelled it because the major cinema franchises were too scared of terrorist attacks to show the film?12/18/2014 - 9:55am
Neeneko@Wonderkarp - there is still a lot of debate regarding if the movie was a motive or not. Unnamed officials say yes, the timeline says no.12/18/2014 - 9:10am
NeenekoSomething does not smell right though, Sony is no stranger to being hacked, so why cancel this film? For that matter, they are still not giving in to hacker's original demands as far as I know.12/18/2014 - 9:06am
 

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