Pitcock Sheds More Light on His Trouble with Videogames

September 2, 2010 -

Quinn Pitcock, the almost 300-pound defensive tackle attempting a comeback with the Seattle Seahawks following a bout of depression-induced (and self-diagnosed) videogame addiction, has survived the first round of cuts with his NFL team and racked up four tackles in the Seahawk’s first three preseason games.

Pitcock also opened up to the Dayton Daily News (he attended Ohio State University) about his trouble with videogames, labeling Call of Duty as his game of choice. Pitcock indicated that on a “typical day,” he would wake up at 3 PM and then play until 6 or 7 AM the next day.

Playing as Randy the Random 1, Pitcock said, “First-person shooter games were my thing. I was ranked at one point 55th in the world.”

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Pro Athletes Against Proposed Michigan “Right of Publicity” Bill

August 19, 2010 -

A proposed House Bill in Michigan that deals with the rights of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her “name, likeness or persona,” has drawn fire because of, among other things, an exemption for videogames.

HB5964 (full bill text) was introduced earlier this year on March 18, but has yet to be voted on since being referred to House Judiciary Committee that same month. Violators of the bill would be “liable for actual damages attributable to the unauthorized use of one or more of the personality’s attributes, including profits attributable to the unauthorized use not taken into account in computing actual damages, or $1,000, whichever was greater. “

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Rapid Online Discounting of Madden NFL 11 Raises Eyebrows

August 18, 2010 -

In a strange move, online retailers GameStop and Amazon have already instituted dramatic price reductions on Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 11, which has been out for barely over a week.

Michael Comeau, a columnist for Minyanville, noticed the price drops and dubbed the actions “worrisome” due to their timing—according to his recollection, while Amazon typically is a quick discounter, it didn’t adjust the price of last year’s Madden game until 20 days after release.

On Amazon, the 360 version of Madden NFL 11 is now $49.99, a $10 drop, while the Wii version had $3 knocked off to $46.99 and the PlayStation 2 entry received a $7 reduction to $32.99. The PlayStation 3 version is still full price ($59.99).

GameStop matched Amazon’s discounts on the 360, Wii and PlayStation 2 versions of Madden NFL 11 and went two better, knocking $10 off the PlayStation 3 game and $7 off the PSP version, which now sells for $32.99. (GameStop's discounted prices are applicable online only, not in-store)

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Wii Seen as Cheap Alternative for Assessing Concussions

August 18, 2010 -

Citing its affordability and simplicity, researchers from Maryland and Ohio State University are trying out Nintendo’s Wii as a means to evaluate the severity and lingering effects of concussions.

A Washington Post article on the subject indicates that taking tabs on an athlete’s balance is one way to measure recovery from a blow to the head, but researchers are split on the effectiveness of using the videogame device.

Experts at Maryland have athletes get on board a Wii Fit and attempt to mimic three different yoga poses, once with their eyes open and once with them closed. They also play a weight-shifting game and, eventually, all data recovered from the activities is tabulated and stored. If a player receives a concussion, the thought is that team doctors would now posses “a frame of reference to measure how far an athlete's ability to function is from its starting point.”

Once athletes met their pre-concussion scores, in theory, they could return to the field.

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Player Attempts NFL Comeback Following Bout with Game Addiction

August 6, 2010 -

Quinn Pitcock is a 299 pound defensive tackle from the Ohio State University who was drafted in the 3rd round by the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, but retired after just one season due to depression, which, he claims, eventually contributed to an addiction to videogames.

Pitcock is on the comeback trail though, attending training camp and hoping to catch on with the Seattle Seahawks. He told The News Tribune that back in 2008, he “was suffering from bouts of depression, and that he had used video games as an outlet.“

On the Seahawks website (thanks Kotaku), Pitcock explained what he did after walking away from the Colts, “I cast myself away from everybody and became almost a hermit. I ended up using video games as my out, I got sucked into that. I got lost to the world.”

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NFL Case Could Impact Sports Game Licenses

January 7, 2010 -

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of American Needle v. NFL next week and perhaps give the NFL broader protection against antitrust lawsuits.

At the heart of the case is an exclusive deal that the NFL has with Reebok as the official seller of hats,. jerseys and clothes using team insignias. American Needle lost its right to sell those items when the league reached the deal with Reebok in 2000.

Where this impacts the videogame industry is the exclusive license that Electronic Arts has with the NFL as the sole purveyor of an NFL-branded videogame with the Madden NFL series. According to a Reuters article:

A broad ruling could insulate professional sports leagues from antitrust claims over video-game licenses, television rights, franchise relocation and even player salaries. Only Major League Baseball is exempt from antitrust laws now.

In the past, the court has kept a tight rein on antitrust suits, and legal analysts say that the mere fact that the court has agreed to hear the case means it could be sympathetic to the NFL's claims for broader protection.

The case for the NFL, according to brief it filed:

“A sports league produces a single entertainment product, a structured series of athletic competitions leading to a championship, that no member club could produce on its own."

However, American Needle countered with:

“The teams are separately owned and controlled profit- making enterprises. They are actual and potential competitors in numerous areas, including the licensing of intellectual property.”

Electronic Arts has come out on the side of the NFL for obvious reasons, and the antitrust protection for the NFL could ensure EA's deal from outside interference as long as the NFL sees fit to continue the contract.

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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...

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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

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Litigation Support Expert Comments on NCAA Video Game Lawsuits

August 3, 2009 -

As GamePolitics has reported, former college athletes have filed a trio of lawsuits this year alleging that the NCAA and video game publisher Electronic Arts profited from the unlicensed use of their images in video games based on college football and basketball.

If successful, the suits have the potential to change the way the sports licensing game is played. What are the chances that will happen?

IGN has posted an interview with litigation support/public relations expert Jason Maloni, whose firm represents Roger Clemens, among others. Maloni comments on the implications of the lawsuits for the NCAA and EA:

Technology is a huge part of it. When I was growing up playing Space Invaders, you couldn't be one of the characters in the game. But with sports games, it's become such a huge phenomenon to assume the identity of your favorite athlete, and it only increases the bond people have with both the game and the team. That's why the pro and collegiate ranks love this type of branding...

 

I expect the impact for EA Sports will be minimal. The company is still going to produce games and derive a profit. The NCAA and large institutions stand to lose a small part of their current revenue... however, they are making [money] hand over fist. I don't think compensating these athletes in some way at the end of the day going to put a crimp in their budgets. College sports are a big business and it will remain a big business...

Like a lot of laws, it takes someone to stand up and say this isn't right. You might also be seeing a growing sympathy for former athletes. Not everyone goes on to the pros or gets mega contracts. I think student athletes are seeing what former pro athletes have done recently seeking restitution against the NFL for the use of their images.

By "pro athletes," Maloni is referring to the recent $26.25 million settlement that a group of retired NFL players reached with the former union over the unlicensed use of their images in EA's best-selling Madden franchise.

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Video Game Licensing a Key Issue as Former UCLA Star Leads New Lawsuit Against NCAA

July 22, 2009 -

The sports video game business is clearly in a period of legal upheaval as yet another class-action suit involving the licensing of athletes' images has emerged.

In the latest development, former UCLA power forward Ed O'Bannon is the lead plaintiff in a federal class action suit charging that the NCAA unlawfully deprived former student athletes of compensation for the use of their likenesses in, among other things, video games, DVDs, jerseys and stock video footage.

O'Bannon led UCLA to the 1995 NCAA Championship and played for three seasons in the NBA.

Michael Hausfield, whose firm, Hausfield LLP is representing O'Bannon and other members of the plaintiff class, offers this comment in a press release issued this morning:

No one has a right to own or control another person’s image or likeness for eternity without providing fair compensation. Former student athletes should have a voice in how their own images or likenesses – once they are no longer students – are used throughout their lifetime.

In his Sports Law column for Sports Illustrated/CNN, Vermont Law School professor Michael McCann terms the stakes in the case "enormous." McCann's full column is worth a read. Here's a taste:

There are two core areas of law implicated by O'Bannon v. NCAA.

First, by requiring student-athletes to forgo their identity rights in perpetuity, the NCAA has allegedly restrained trade in violation of the Sherman Act... Student-athletes, but for their authorization of the NCAA to license their images and likenesses, would be able to negotiate their own licensing deals after leaving college...  For example, if former student-athletes could negotiate their own licensing deals, multiple video game publishers could publish games featuring ex-players. More games could enhance technological innovation and lower prices for video game consumers.

Second... the [former players argue that] NCAA has deprived them of their "right of publicity." The right of publicity refers to the property interest of a person's name or likeness, i.e. one's image, voice or even signature...

It's important to note that the O'Bannon lawsuit is directed at the NCAA, not video game publishers. In addition, it deals only with licensing issues relating to former, not current NCAA athletes. On that score, however, O'Bannon requests that a trust be established with any funds won in the case; such proceeds would benefit today's players when they are finished with their collegiate careers.

In addition to the O'Bannon case, a pair of recent class-action suits by former college football players Sam Keller and Ryan Hart target the NCAA and Electronic Arts over similar licensing issues. And, as GamePolitics reported last month, retired NFL players won a $26.5 settlement with the National Football League Players Association over their unlicensed use in EA's popular Madden series. EA was not a defendant in that case, but some militant voices among the retired players advocate pursuing the Madden publisher at some future point.

Turbulent times, indeed...

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Pachter: Economist's Claims in Madden Monopoly Case Irresponsible

July 15, 2009 -

Yesterday's GamePolitics report detailing a University of Michigan economist's estimate that EA's exclusive NFL deal cost Madden buyers as much as $926 million raised a number of eyebrows, including those attached to the forehead of Michael Pachter (left).

In an e-mail exchange with GamePolitics, the Wedbush-Morgan analyst scoffed at the monopoly theory offered by Dr. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason in a filing last week with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. MacKie-Mason was hired as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in a class-action suit filed in 2008 by a pair of gamers who allege that EA exploited its exclusive NFL deal to jack up the price of its popular Madden series.

Here's what Pachter had to say:

What kind of fool is this U of Michigan economics professor? ...Madden (according to NPD) sold 23 million units in 2006 - 2009, not the 30 million that Dr. MacKie-Mason claims... The total retail sales were $1.034 billion, meaning that EA's cut was around $800 million (retail margin is 20%).  How in the world does [MacKie-Mason] conclude that EA overcharged by more than they generated?

For the four year period, EA's average retail price was $44. For the period 1995 - 2005 (when either Sega or Take-Two provided [NFL 2K series] competition), EA generated $1.548 billion of sales on 36 million units, for an average price of $43. In other words, WITH competition, the price was $43, and WITHOUT competition, the price was $44.18...

I rarely read anything that gets me so incensed... They may have some odd estimates I'm not aware of, but based on what you printed, they should be embarrassed. You can quote me.

Here's more: Take-Two discounted [NFL 2K5] to $19.99 to gain market share, and lost their butts in the process. It's the same as a dollar menu at McDonald's that is a loss leader in order to gain share, and McDonald's hopes people buy the high-margin soft drink. There is no "right" among consumers to receive a perpetual discount just because one retailer decides to discount below cost... 

It strikes me as irresponsible that the professor would focus on the NFL exclusive as if there is some god-given right for consumers to have all intellectual property available for exploitation by any business that chooses to do so in the name of competition... 

The ONLY I/P that has ever been licensed to multiple video game parties is team sports.  The NFL, Major League Baseball, FIFA, and NCAA Basketball have all chosen to go the exclusive route for games, similar to the contracts for all movie-based games.

GP: As GamePolitics reported yesterday, MacKie-Mason acknowledges that his analysis is based on incomplete data. In a response filing, attorneys for EA (who were similarly contemptuous of MacKie-Mason's theory) agreed to furnish available documentation dating back to 2001.

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...

Florida Guv Lauds Game Biz, Appears in NCAA Football 2010

July 14, 2009 -

The long-awaited NCAA Football 2010 launches today and you can count Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) among the game's fans - and its players.

Orlando's WESH-2 reports that the Guv was on hand at EA's Tiburon Studios for an NCAA '10 launch event. Crist praised not only the game but the industry's positive economic impact on Florida's economy:

This is so cool that EA Sports, [that] Tiburon is right here in Florida...

 

The realism of [the game] is what just blows you away... This is the knowledge-based economy we want to continue to build throughout the state.

It's great for Florida. It's great for jobs. You know in this economy especially, looking for new and innovative ways for people to have gainful employment and the pride that goes along with that. It's so important to so many people.

Crist, who quarterbacked the 1976 Wake Forest team, even appeared in the game dressed in full uniform, courtesy of NCAA '10's Team Builder feature. In a demo of the game run by Tiburon developers, Crist scrambled and passed the Demon Deacons to a four-play touchdown drive.

In comments after the demo, Crist was a good sport about his NCAA '10 character's performance:

I love college football. I wasn't ever very good. The guy on the screen was good. You're very generous.

El Mundo Tech has several videos of the event.

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CNBC Reporter: Players Will Win NCAA Football Suit vs. EA

July 13, 2009 -

NCAA Football 10 launches at midnight with a pair of lawsuits filed by one-time college football stars hanging over its head.

The former players allege that they weren't compensated for the use of their likenesses. On CNBC this morning, Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell covers the controversy and concludes that the players will win their lawsuit:

If the copies of Electronic Arts' NCAA Football '10 that we received are the same that hit stores at midnight, the damages against the video game company and the NCAA could grow in the suit against them...

I reviewed the top 10 players in college football... Every single one... was within two inches of their real height and 10 pounds of their real weight in the game. Four athletes... were listed at their exact heights and weights. Every single one of them had the correct eligibility status and 9... had the correct birthplace listed on the in-game bio page.

All jersey numbers were accurate, including [Jeremiah] Masoli, who switched his number from 2 to 8 in the offseason... [Tim] Tebow is wearing a big wristband on his right arm in the game, as he does in real life...

Should [plaintiff Sam] Keller eventually prevail in this lawsuit, as I believe he will, all the athletes who were infringed on this year will be entitled to get cut in on a piece of the damages.

Via: Fanster

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Former QB Lawsuits Could Spell 4th & Long for EA, NCAA

July 1, 2009 -

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported that two more former college quarterbacks have sued EA over the alleged inclusion of their likenesses in the best-selling NCAA Football series of games.

Ryan Hart of Rutgers and Troy Taylor of Cal filed their suit in New Jersey Superior Court. In May, former Nebraska QB Sam Keller lodged a similar complaint against EA.

While some observers have ridiculed the athletes' claims, columnist Jon Solomon of AL.com, a website incorporating several Alabama newspapers, believes the allegations have merit:

The NCAA insists that college athletes shouldn't be sales tools... What does that mean? Crossing that line has been awfully blurry, even before the video game lawsuits.

Why do you think fans buy No. 8 Alabama jerseys and No. 15 Florida jerseys? It's no coincidence the punter's jersey number doesn't hang in stores next to those of Julio Jones and Tim Tebow...

There is no question EA Sports identifies individual players. If this were an open-records request by a media outlet, universities would redact every video game player, citing personally identifiable information. Funny how that works, isn't it?

All it takes for a major NCAA mess is one sympathetic judge or jury to an athlete's claim of exploitation. Ironically, that forum could come from video games, which are wildly popular with the very college athletes whose identities are being used.


Two More Former College Quarterbacks Sue EA

June 30, 2009 -

Today's news brings more legal headaches for Electronic Arts.

Last month, GamePolitics reported on a federal class-action lawsuit filed by former University of Nebraska football player Sam Keller. The one-time college quarterback charged that EA used his likeness in its popular NCAA Football game franchise without his permission. Keller's suit also names the NCAA as a defendant.

One-time Rutgers QB Ryan Hart (left) and former University of California QB Troy Taylor filed a similar lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court, according to MyCentralJersey.com. EA Sports spokesman Rob Semsey told the website:

EA, the NCAA and CLC (Collegiate Licensing Company) have reviewed the complaint, and do not believe that the claims have merit. EA, the NCAA and CLC regularly conduct reviews of EA's NCAA-branded games, and we do not believe that any violations of student-athlete rights or NCAA by-laws have occurred.

GP: It's unclear why Hart and Taylor filed a state suit against EA and did not simply join Keller's federal class-action. Perhaps some of our attorney readers can suggest a reason?

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2K Sports Takes NBA Game to Chinese Market

June 23, 2009 -

Basketball is wildly popular in China and so are online games.

Seeing big revenue in that combination, 2K Sports announced today that it will create an online version of pro hoops game NBA 2K for the Chinese market. Chinese Internet portal Tencent Holdings will partner with 2K Sports on the deal.

Licensing for the game includes all NBA team along with current and retired players. 2K Sports president Christoph Hartmann is quoted in a press release issued this morning:

The incredible popularity of basketball in Asia combined with the love of online games in that region makes this a very exciting project for 2K. For the first time, 2K is developing an online game combining our expertise in making the best-selling and top-rated NBA 2K video game franchise with the proven ability of Tencent for developing and operating highly successful online game communities in China.

Online gaming was a $2.75 billion business in China in 2008 and more than a billion Chinese viewed NBA programming during the just-completed season.

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Evangelical Leader: Some Games Are Okay. Others, Not So Much...

June 13, 2009 -

Rev. James Dobson, the politically influential, conservative evangelical leader of nonprofit group Focus on the Family, has given a green light to some video games while offering warnings about violent an sexual content as well as possible game addiction in regard to others.

Dobson's comments appeared in his newspaper column in response to a question from a parent about their son's video gaming:

Depending on the particular games in question, you may have a valid cause for concern... two University of Michigan researchers concluded in 2007 that violent media, including television, film and video games, pose a significant public health threat...

Furthermore, some video games add unhealthy sexual themes and profanity to the mix, not to mention that the American Medical Association estimates one in 10 video gamers is addicted.

Of course, not all video games are problematic. Certain sports games, for instance, can be loads of fun. Some can even be educational...

I’d advise you to put clear limits on the amount of time your son will be allowed to spend with video games... Insist he avoid the troublesome ones altogether...

GP: Dobson is referring to the 2007 Huesmann-Bushman study.

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Federal Judge: Madden Monopoly Suit May Proceed Against EA

June 8, 2009 -

A U.S. District Court Judge in San Francisco has ruled that monopoly claims filed against Electronic Arts by a pair of Madden buyers may continue.

EA had previously requested that Judge Vaughn Walker dismiss claims by Geoffrey Pecover and Jeffrey Lawrence. The two Madden buyers, serving as named plaintiffs in the class-action suit, alleged that by eliminating competition for NFL-licensed games EA had acted in a monopolistic fashion and unjustly enriched itself at the expense of consumers. On Friday Judge Walker issued a ruling denying EA's motion. The Judge did, however, rule that only claims in California and Washington, D.C. would go forward since that is where the two named plaintiffs in the case reside.

Significantly, in turning down EA's request to dismiss, Judge Walker wrote that "interactive video football software" is a recognizable product market for anti-trust purposes:

As the court understands these allegations, interactive football software will not sell if it does not use the names, logos and other markers of teams that actually compete in the NFL; there is, in effect, no market for interactive football software in a virtual or fictitious setting. If true —— as the court must at this point accept —— this adequately alleges that there are no substitutes for interactive football software without the markers of actual teams and players.

The suit, essentially following a line of reasoning laid out here on GamePolitics, describes how EA, faced with competition from Take-Two's excellent NFL 2K5, reduced the price of Madden from $49.99 to $29.99 in order to stay competitive with NFL 2K5, which was aggressively priced at $19.99. However, once the exclusive NFL and NFLPA deals were inked, the unlicensed NFL 2K series was discontinued and EA, facing no competition, jacked the price of Madden back up to $49.99.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of Judge Walker's ruling.

SEE ALSO: Spirited courtroom argument in Pecover vs. EA... Read all GamePolitics coverage of Pecover vs. EA...

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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.

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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.

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NCAA Football Lawsuit Brings More Legal Trouble for EA Sports

May 6, 2009 -

As GamePolitics has reported, Electronic Arts may soon face a lawsuit by retired NFL players who believe their likenesses were unlawfully incorporated into EA's best-selling Madden game. But former college players now want their slice of EA's money pie as well.

SF Weekly reports that a one-time college quarterback is now making the same claim as NFL retirees in regard to EA's popular NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball franchises. Samuel Keller (left), formerly of Arizona State and Nebraska, is the lead plaintiff in the class action suit.

From SF Weekly:

The suit [claims] in its first sentence that it "arises out of the blatant and unlawful use of [NCAA] student likenesses in videogames produced by [EA]... to increase sales and profits." This, the complaint continues, is abetted with a wink-and-nod assist from the NCAA, which "intentionally circumvents the prohibitions on utilizing student athletes' names in commercial ventures by allowing gamers to upload entire rosters, which include players' names and other information, directly into the game in a matter of seconds..."

This, the suit alleges, is a symbiotic relationship between the NCAA and EA that leaves the student athletes -- who make this whole venture possible -- empty-handed.

 

So it rankled Keller to note that "with rare exception, virtually every real-life Division I football or basketball player in the NCAA has a corresponding player in Electronic Arts' games with the same jersey number, and virtually identical height, weight, build and home state. In addition Electronic Arts often matches the player's, skin tone, hair color, and often even a player's hair style."

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the lawsuit here.

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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

Madden Retires From Broadcasting

April 16, 2009 -

It's not exactly a video game story, but John Madden has announced his retirement from broadcasting televised NFL games.

NBC Sports broke the news this morning. In a statement, Madden explained his reasons for making the move:

It’s time. I’m 73 years old.  My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I’m home and, more importantly, when I’m not…

 

It’s been such a great ride… the NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion – it still is...  I still love every part of it – the travel, the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people… but I know this is the right time.

Inside Bay Area reports that Madden will continue to do a local radio show on KCBS.

It is unknown how - or whether - the legendary coach and broadcaster's retirement will affect the best-selling Madden NFL video game.

10 comments

Online Game Addresses Steriod Abuse in Major League Baseball

April 7, 2009 -

Baseball's back, but fans' lingering anger over steroid use by MLB players has cast a bit of a cloud on Opening Day.

Baseball *Juiced, a new online offering from Addicting Games, examines the steroid issue, although unfortunately without much depth. For example, if your player works out at the gym in the off-season instead of taing steroids he will hit well.

But if you choose to dope your player, he seems to hit a home run every time up. Eventually, however, he will flunk his random steroid test.

The message is: steroids may increase performance but at cost in reputation. Player who juice could be indicted, ala Barry Bonds, or banned from the Hall of Fame.

3 comments

Hated AIG Kicks It in Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2009

March 23, 2009 -

If you haven't yet gotten your fill of AIG news, Stephen Totilo of MTV Multiplayer reports that the controversial, troubled insurance company shows up unexpectedly in Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2009.

Stephen was checking out the Wii version and reports that AIG's now-infamous logo appears on the jerseys of Manchester United:

For those who recognize AIG as one of the most hated three-letter combinations in America these days, be warned about Konami’s new Wii soccer game “Pro Evolution Soccer 2009.”

The game’s opening cinematic has a bunch of guys wearing the company’s logo...

I discovered through “PES 2009″ that Manchester United... is sponsored by AIG. (Or, to be precise, used to be sponsored, as reports, like this one from Forbes, indicate that the U.S. government has nixed any renewal of this Manchester United AIG deal.)

After reading Stephen's piece I tossed my copy into the PS3, and found AIG there, as well.

21 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

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.

5 comments

Obama's Exclusive Super Bowl Party Guest List Includes Congressional Game Biz Critics

February 1, 2009 -

Between the food, the football, the commercials and the schmoozing, it's unlikely that the topic of video game regulation will come up at President Barack Obama's White House Super Bowl party this evening.

But if it does, at least two of the Congressional types on his small, bipartisan guest list have some background on the issue.

In December, 2007 Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stood with Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and Family as Walsh zinged the video game industry for what he referred as "an ominous backslide."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who is known for almost never missing a vote, proposed a 2005 Congressional resolution directing the FTC to investigate the Hot Coffee scandal. In 2006 he sponsored the  Video Game Decency Act, a piece of legislation which ultimately failed to pass.

Perhaps more interesting than the (admittedly unlikely) video game angle is trying to decipher the formula used by the Prez in determining his guest list:

  • 11 Democrats, 4 Republicans
  • 5 from Pennsylvania (Steelers?)
  • 2 from Arizona (Cardinals?)
  • 1 from Illinois (Obama's old Senate partner)
  • 1 each from Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan, DC, Alabama, Connecticut and New Hampshire

Forget Madden's Super Bowl Pick - Who Does Electric Football Like?

February 1, 2009 -

On the one hand, you've got Madden 2009 with its highfalutin player ratings, realistic NFL playbooks and updated team stats. As we have mentioned elsewhere, Madden makes like a ouija board and guesses that the Steelers will win today's big game.

But here at GamePolitics, we'd like something a little more dependable before we risk the kids' college funds. 

Little plastic football players who spin in circles on a vibrating metal platform seem like just the thing to give us more confidence in our wager.

Yes, we're talking electric football here. But where are the Super Bowl predictions from the cult-like world of the old school game?

Electric football die-hards have their own Super Bowl, but we need them to predict the outcome of the real one. Hopefully, before kickoff...

22 comments

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.bsimracing.com/fia-sends-out-cease-and-desist-letter-to-modding-teams/ This sounds pretty bad.08/23/2014 - 12:12pm
SeanBI wrote up a post detailing my thoughts on this Mojang/Bukkit stuff, feel free to chime in if you wish. http://goo.gl/OFJJIE08/23/2014 - 12:24am
Matthew Wilsonfirst, that crap is wrong. second, isnt this the 3rd time he has quit?08/22/2014 - 12:11pm
Zenhttp://levelsave.com/phil-fish-polytron-doxxed-phil-fish-quits-gaming-sells-fez-polytron/ , https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bvnhvz5IIAAAVc5.png:large08/22/2014 - 12:03pm
ZenHere are some links to the story and images. http://playeressence.com/polytron-and-phil-fish-hacked-tons-of-personal-info-leaked/ , https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bvnx8sQCIAAwumB.jpg:large , https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bvnj_zmCUAAlYWm.jpg:large08/22/2014 - 12:02pm
ZenSo...Phil Fish was apparently hacked on both his Twitter and the Polytron site along with all of his personal information has been given out in a zip file. He has since closed his Twitter and stated that Polytron and the Fez IP are for sale. He wants out.08/22/2014 - 12:01pm
Papa MidnightThe Verge says the sequel to Flappy Bird is nearly impossible. http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/21/6053297/swing-copters-flappy-bird-sequel08/21/2014 - 12:22pm
SleakerPC-Gamer wrote an article on what's going on with the Minecraft stuff: http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/08/21/minecraft-bukkit-team-lead-tries-to-end-development-but-mojang-steps-in/08/21/2014 - 11:55am
SleakerEVE had a high-profile ban today: http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/08/20/eve-online-lottery-site-somer-blink-shutting-down/#continued08/21/2014 - 10:26am
SleakerBut where have all the Ethics gone?08/21/2014 - 9:08am
Sleaker@EZK - one of the bigger things is that since Mojang has owned Bukkit for 2 years now, people contributing to the project have basically been doing work for them pro-bono. On top of never formalizing support. They hid the fact probably to prevent support08/21/2014 - 9:07am
SleakerIf you've played on a server with mods/plugins, you've almost for sure played on a Bukkit-based server.08/21/2014 - 8:56am
SleakerHere's Bukkit's explanation attempt at shutting down due to EULA changes: http://forums.bukkit.org/threads/bukkit-its-time-to-say.305106/08/21/2014 - 8:55am
SleakerEZK - it's the largest server mod for MC, in actuality without it minecraft for sure would not have been as popular (#1 game now).08/21/2014 - 8:54am
SleakerTo the point that it seems they have completely lost what it means to be for-community, and having transparency. Along with dumping restrictive EULA's onto people.08/21/2014 - 8:53am
E. Zachary KnightWhat is Bukkit and why should I care?08/21/2014 - 8:53am
SleakerMinecraft community exploded again today. Apparently Mojang owns all of Bukkit, and never put out a statement saying as such 2 years ago when they acquired them. I have to say, their transition from indie has been rough.08/21/2014 - 8:52am
james_fudgeThere aren't many left in America08/21/2014 - 1:50am
MechaTama31I sure have. Dorky's barcade in Tacoma, WA.08/20/2014 - 5:56pm
Matthew WilsonI have not been to a arcade in years. I know arcades are still big in japan.08/20/2014 - 5:38pm
 

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