Soccer Game Has 90% Piracy Rate But Will Not Add DRM

January 6, 2009 -

Although PC soccer management sim Championship Manager is experiencing a 90% piracy rate, its publisher is not planning to add DRM to the mix.

Roy Meredith of Beautiful Game Studios told CVG:

[The 90% piracy figure is] not just a number in the air, we can measure it and we know that there are a huge amount of pirated copies. There's a real issue around DRM ... I'd love to defeat pirates, but actually, with all this mess on Spore and Football Manager, which I haven't been able to play this year... I spent about three hours trying to go through this registration process and I really want to play it but I've got other things to do with my life.

There are actually other ways of dealing with piracy too. One is to compete price-wise. We haven't got to pay [console licensing] royalties to Sony or Microsoft, so we can go into territories and price compete.

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Peter Moore Gets Feisty With Eurogamer

January 5, 2009 -

In the tight-lipped, image-massaged corporate world in which game company execs exist, it's refreshing to find someone who isn't afraid to speak his mind - even if he is calling out the gaming press in the process.

Thus, we thoroughly enjoyed EA Sports boss Peter Moore's rant at Eurogamer for leaving FIFA 09 out of its Top 50 games for 2008:

Tuesday morning, coffee in hand and clad in my Liverpool FC officially licensed pajamas (you think I'm kidding, don't you), I log in and scroll down the list from 10 to 1, getting more excited as I get closer to the top spot. World of Goo? I'm sure it's fun, and the reviewers certainly loved it, but surprised to see up so high...  I scrolled quickly all the way to the number one spot...Huh? WTF?? As in WHERE THE HELL IS FIFA 09???

...c'mon, one of the best sports games of recent times not even in the Top 50? This title will sell in excess of 10 million units when all is done and dusted, but doesn't even rank a mention?

Really? Seriously? Is it not cool to include a so-called mass market game? Bangai-O Spirits (no disrespect Treasure) makes it and FIFA 09 doesn't? Eurogamer - you are and always will be one of my favorite gaming web-sites, but you were waaaay offside on this one.

UPDATE: Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell has responded to Moore's criticism.

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NFL Punter Adding Warcraft to Name?

January 2, 2009 -

Chris Kluwe, who punts for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, is a big-time World of Warcraft player.

In fact, he told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune that he has given some thought to adding Warcraft to his name. For pay, of course. Kluwe, who does a local radio program, commented on his gaming:

I think more people like to hear me talk about playing video games than football. I've played video games since I was 4 years old. I play them a lot more than I kick a football. I kick the ball about 45 minutes a day. I play video games about five or six hours a day. But that's OK. I don't watch TV...

 

Back when [Bengals receiver] Chad Johnson changed his name to Ocho Cinco, I told the guys at [radio station] 93X that I was going to change my name to Chris 'World of Warcraft. They said that's too long. So they started calling me Chris 'Warcraft.' I could make a lot of money if I changed my name to that.

GP: Personally, I'm hoping that Kluwe is thinking about WoW instead of his punting chores on Sunday when the Vikes host my beloved Iggles (that's the official Philadelphia pronunciation) in the playoffs.

Via: Kotaku

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Oh No You Didn't: Mercs 2 Song Plays as Skins Hold Off Eagles

December 22, 2008 -

Sunday was a tough day for Eagles fans (like yours truly).

The Washington Redskins stymied the Eagles' offense all day long and led 10-3 late in the fourth quarter. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Eagles receiver Reggie Brown was stuffed at the goal line by a pair of Washington defenders.

And what song was blaring over the public address system at Washington's Fedex Field?

Oh No You Didn't.

The Wojahn Brothers tune is the theme for EA's hit Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.

Cinema Blend, which picked up on the use of the Mercs 2 song, reports:

It's a tough song to describe; essentially it's a rap with piano accompaniment and a choir-style chorus. Somehow, all of these strange elements come together into a catchy masterpiece... it's pretty awesome that a song created for a video game's gotten this sort of mainstream attention.

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EA Spanked for Misleading Wii Game Commercial

December 17, 2008 -

Electronic Arts needs to be more truthful in its advertising, according to a British goverment agency.

As reported by gamesindustry.biz, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority rapped EA's knuckles for including Xbox 360 footage in a commercial for the Wii version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09

From the gi.biz story:

The ads featured the sportsman swinging a Wii remote, but showed Xbox 360 gameplay footage at the same time, giving the wrong impression of the visual quality of the Nintendo version of the game. The publisher explained to the ASA that footage of the Wii game "would not be of broadcast quality" and had included text in the ad that the game was available on multiple formats in an effort to avoid confusion.

The ASA wasn't buying EA's explanation, however:

"Although we acknowledged that the message 'available on all formats' appeared in the final scene, we considered that viewers would infer from the ad that Tiger Woods was playing the game on a Wii console and the graphics shown behind him were representative of the actual game he was playing," said the watchdog.

 

"Because viewers would not be able to achieve the graphical quality shown in the ad on a Wii console, we concluded that the ad was misleading."

Bottom line? EA can't show the commercial for the August release again - not that they were planning to.

 

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Former Oakland Raider: Many ex-NFLers Depicted in Madden without Permission

December 3, 2008 -

The fallout continues from last month's $28 million federal court verdict which ruled that the NFL players union scewed retired players out of licensing revenue from the best-selling Madden NFL game.

It's a bit complicated, but the short version is that the union (NFLPA) gave retired players the option to sign onto a group licensing authorization (GLA) by which Electronic Arts was entitled to use their image for Madden's classic teams. The retirees, however, alleged that they never received any payments based on Madden. The money went to active players, instead.

Yesterday, former Oakland Raider Dave Pear, a veteran of the silver-and-black's 1980 Super Bowl-winning squad, maintained that the NFLPA continually overinflated the number of players who actually signed the GLAs. At its worst, according to Pear, the NFLPA 's 2007 annual report claims that more than 2,900 retirees authorized their image to be used while court records obtained from last month's trial show that only 22 retired players actually signed a GLA that year. Pear writes:

Does this mean that any players who hadn’t signed a GLA or been included in the list can now sue Electronic Arts directly for copyright infringement if their images were used in their Madden video games without their permission? And does it also mean that the retired players who were excluded from signing GLA’s have been misrepresented by their union, the NFLPA?

While EA is not a defendant in the case, which is under appeal, Madden revenues were by far the largest economic point of contention. If EA has a potential problem going forward, it could be with retired players who never signed the GLA yet were portrayed in Madden. As GamePolitics has reported, the NFLPA conspired with EA to "scramble" the images of retired players. A critical piece of evidence in the recent federal court trial was an e-mail message from former NFLPA exec LaShun Lawson to Madden producer Jeremy Strauser:

For all retired players that are not listed... their identity must be altered so that it cannot be recognized [by Madden players]... Hence, any and all players not listed... cannot be represented in Madden 2002 with the number that player actually wore, and must be scrambled.

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Xbox 360 Version of Black College Football Experience Compatible with Rock Band Drum Kit

November 29, 2008 -

Louisiana game publisher Nerjyzed Game Studios is readying the launch of an Xbox 360 version of its Black College Football Experience game, reports The Advocate. The release of BCFx will mark the first-ever publication of a console game by an African-American owned studio.

A national ad campaign for Black College Football Experience will kick off today during the Bayou Classic as Southern University and Grambling square off in their 35th gridiron tilt. BCFx debuted last year on the PC. Of today's launch, Nerjyzed CEO Jacqueline Beauchamp commented:

We’re going to be doing a complete national rollout, and it’s going to start right here in Louisiana first. We actually have six commercial spots on NBC (during the game).

NBC will be highlighting the game during the broadcast (2 p.m. Eastern):

The network will... feature another first, the BCFx Sideline Video Game Zone... NBC will cut back and forth between the actual football game and the action in the Video Game Zone.

“The announcers will say, ‘Southern may be winning 24-10 on the football field. Let’s take a look at who’s winning in the video game,’ ” Beauchamp said.

The network has agreed to cut to the Video Game Zone twice during the broadcast but Nerjyzed is hoping for more, Beauchamp said.

In addition to its football action, of special note is BCFx's drumline game play, which is compatible with the Rock Band drum kit for the Xbox 360. 35 tunes and 65 drum cadences are included.

GP: Unfortunately, the 2007 launch of the PC version generated unkind remarks by some in the game community. Let's hope that the new version is received with greater tolerance. It actually sounds like a very cool mix of football and rhythm-based gameplay.

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Welsh Soccer Fans Miffed at FIFA 09 Snub

November 24, 2008 -

The Welsh national team is missing from FIFA 09, and football devotees in Wales aren't happy about the slight, according to Wales Online.

Welsh soccer fan Noel Davies bemoaned his favorite team's absence from the pitch: 

I’m a big fan of [manager] John Toshack’s side and I was looking forward to leading the team. I found England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and even New Zealand, but no Wales.

 

I don’t know why but maybe the people at Fifa no longer see us as a footballing nation and think we are no longer worthy of a place in the game. There are Premiership players in the Welsh team coveted by the top European clubs...

 

In all seriousness you have to wonder how we are not in the game and yet New Zealand are... In earlier versions of the game they used to have a Wales team. I imagine the market for this game in the UK is huge, so to ignore Wales is ridiculous. There are enough gaming members of the public in Wales. I find it really insulting.

Posts on FIFA 09's U.K. forums include a petition for Wales to be added to the game.

Ironically, while the national team is M.I.A., the FIFA 09 soundtrack includes a song by Welsh pop music icon Tom Jones.

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Sudden Death For CGS Game League (and we don't mean overtime)

November 19, 2008 -

Direct TV has deep-sixed its Championship Gaming Series professional gaming league, according to the Hollywood Examiner.

An announcement on the CGS website calls the league "an idea whose time came too early" and laments that "profitability was too far in the future for us to sustain operations in the interim."

The Examiner notes:

The CGS, was founded in 2007... and was sponsored by major brands in gaming and mainstream like Moutain Dew, Fatality gaming gear, Alienware and Xbox 360.

The league launched its first season with six franchises in six major cities in the United States including Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, San Fransico, Chicago and Carolina. In 2008, they launched new franchises in major international markets like Berlin, Spain, England and Mexico...


CGS was also the only league with international television coverage where the players where able to get more then bragging rights, but was also paid a salary like professional athletes.

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$28 Million NFLPA Verdict Reveals Details of EA's Madden Monopoly

November 17, 2008 -

Here at GamePolitics I've been complaining (some might say whiningsince 2005 that EA's exclusive arrangement with the NFL is, at best, a bad deal for gamers.

At worst, it's a monopoly.

Ultimately, the Federal Trade Commission, looked at the Madden issue in relation to EA's merger dance with Take-Two Interactive. But, inasmuch as the FTC pre-approved the EA-T2 deal, its regulators apparently came down against the monopoly view.

But that was before secret e-mails from officials of the NFL Players Association were made public in September during a bitter court fight between retired players and the NFLPA. As GamePolitics reported last week, the retirees were ultimately awarded $28 million by a U.S. District Court jury in San Francisco. Three-quarters of that amount was levied as punitive damages. The NFLPA says that it will appeal.

While millions in Madden licensing fees were central to the case, EA itself was not a defendant. Despite that, incriminating e-mails clearly show that EA knew it was "scrambling" the likenesses of retired players on Madden's classic NFL teams. More relevant to the monopoly issue, however, is an e-mail which demonstrates that the NFLPA was complicit in helping EA maintain its status as the sole publisher of a pro football game. A February, 2007 e-mail from NFLPA executive Clay Walker to an NFLPA attorney makes this quite plain:

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 of that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there.

 

...The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it’s a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply. You have to remember that EA’s total cost is only $200,000 per year. We know that Take Two offered six figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices...

Will the revelation that the NFLPA was actively assisting EA by keeping Take-Two on the sidelines raise any red flags at the Federal Trade Commission? Will FTC regulators revisit the Madden issue?

That remains to be seen. If you're asking yourself, "why is this issue important to gamers?" There are several very good reasons; all revolve around the concept of competition:

  • When Take-Two published the NFL2K series, EA had competition.
  • Competition forces companies to put out a better product.
  • Some gamers even preferred NFL2K to Madden.
  • Without an NFL license, Take-Two could not compete with Madden and gave up on pro football.
  • After EA's exclusive deal killed NFL2K, EA's raised the price of its next version of Madden by $20.
  • The price has remained at a higher rate ever since.

Finally, we should point out that a class-action lawsuit, Pecover vs. Electronic Arts, is currently working its way through U.S. District Court in California. Pecover essentially argues that game consumers were screwed by EA's Madden monopoly.

Sportswriter: Madden Should Step Up in Fight Between Union, Old School Players

November 16, 2008 -

Last week a federal court jury in San Francisco returned a stunning $28 million verdict against the NFL Players Association in a class-action suit filed by more than 2,000 former players

In their ruling, jurors decided that the NFLPA had screwed retired NFL players out of substantial licensing fees, paricularly in relation to the best-selling Madden series. A crucial piece of evidence in the trial was a highly incriminating e-mail from an NFLPA official to an EA exec urging that data on retired players such as their uniform number be "scrambled" in order to avoid compensating the retirees for the use of their likeness.

Noting that many of the retired players who are plaintiffs in the suit either played for John Madden or played during his era, Fox Sports columnist Mark Kriegel is calling on the former coach to step into the situation. Madden, after all, had earned millions from the game. Hall of Fame defensive back Herb Adderley, the lead plaintiff in the case, told Kriegel:

If John Madden knew that they were scrambling us, it's a disgrace. If he didn't know, well, no blame to him. ... But I'm sure he's seen some of these video games himself. I mean, I played against the Raiders in the Super Bowl. He can obviously see that the guy on '66 Packers and the '71 Cowboys is Herb Adderley.

 

He should say something. It would really help if he would come out and say something to heal the animosity between the current and the retired players. It's been a real bad thing.

Kriegel writes that he has been unable to track Madden down for a comment on the case and has gotten the run-around from EA, NBC and Madden's agent: 

"It's not really a 'Madden' story," says Rob Semsey, the PR guy at EA Sports, which had revenues of $3.67 billion last fiscal year. "It's a dispute between the retired players and the NFLPA."

 

I always love when they tell me what the story is. What are my chances of speaking with John Madden, I ask.

 

"Slim and none," he says.

 

An hour or so later, Rob Semsey's boss calls me. His name is Jeff Brown and he tells me to call Madden's agent.

Former NFL defensive standout Jack Youngblood, however, doesn't hold the old coach responsible:

Trying to say that John has some responsibility, I think, is stretching it. It's EA's responsibility. It's on the union. At some point in time," said Youngblood, "John Madden will stand up and do the right thing. I trust him as one of the great coaches in the league, and a great man. I firmly believe he will do what's honorable.


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On Veterans Day, Tampa Bay Bucs Battle Troops in Madden, CoD World at War

November 11, 2008 -

The Orlando Sentinel reports that several members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will celebrate Veterans Day by gaming with U.S. troops stationed overseas.

Pro vs. G.I. Joe, the nonprofit group which arranged the event, reports that Madden 09 and the brand-new Call of Duty: World at War will be the weapons of choice. Tamps Bay CB Phillip Buchanon, LB Cato June, TE Alex Smith and CB Aqib Talib will take on service personnel in Germany, Japan, Kuwait and a secret Middle-east location to be revealed during the match.

UPDATE: Activision deserves some kudos here as well. In a press release the publisher points out that it supplied CoD:WaW for today's event and will continue to do so for future Pro vs. G.I. Joe matchups.

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Obama Saluted in Crazy Mini Golf for Wii

November 7, 2008 -

Game makers have taken to Barack Obama in a big way.

The president-elect has already made appearances in a Saints Row 2 trailer and as DLC in Mercenaries 3.

Wii title Kidz Sports Crazy Mini Golf, launched this week by Data Design, now has a video up featuring Obama scoring some sweet holes-in-one while characters John McCain (at least, I'm guessing that's supposed to be McCain) and Sarah Palin look on in frustration.

Thanks to: GP correspondent Andrew Eisen for the tip!

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EA May Auction Madden Cover for Charity, Says Peter Moore

October 28, 2008 -

Bloomberg reports that Electronic Arts is considering allowing the highest bidding player to become the cover athlete on its best-selling Madden NFL franchise.

All money received from the winning bidder would go to NFL charity partner the United Way.

The news comes by way of EA Sports president Peter Moore, who told Bloomberg:

I bet you can find 50 players that would say, `I'd pay good money [to be on the cover of Madden]. The league does a lot of work with them to make them realize how lucky they are and a lot of them have come out of poor circumstances and they give back...

 

Our research tells us we don't see a huge up-tick or down-tick depending on who's on the cover -- [gamers are] buying Madden.

 

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Today in Court: Retired NFL Players Open Case involving Madden

October 20, 2008 -

The Associated Press reminds us that today is the opening of Adderley et al vs NFL Players, Inc.

As GamePolitics reported last month, the suit was brought by retired NFL players who believe that they have been denied royalties from a variety of licensing deals arranged by the NFLPA, the union for active players.

The biggest point of contention in the case is Electronic Arts' best-selling Madden series. EA, however, is not a defendant in the lawsuit. From the AP report:

Retired players complain that, even though they signed licensing agreements with the NFLPA during a four-year period that ended in February 2007, they have earned little from the union's lucrative contract with EA.

The $35 million annual contract is the union's largest marketing deal, and the lawsuit is the latest salvo in the increasingly rancorous relationship between retirees and a union they say has given them short financial shrift...

In our previous coverage, GamePolitics carried excerpts of what the retired players view as smoking gun e-mails. An e-mail from PI exec Clay Walker discusses how Take-Two lost out in the deal. This would appear to refer to 2K Sports' failed All-Pro Football 2K8, which used names and likenesses of former players:

Take Two... 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.

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Green Bay Packers Take on USMC in Online Madden, Halo 3 Matches

October 19, 2008 -

A U.S. Marine serving in Iraq bested a member of the Green Bay Packers in an online game of Madden on Friday.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Cpl. Tim Headricks, a Green Bay native, beat Packers lineman Mark Tauscher in a close game. Headricks controlled the Packers, while Taushcer too the reigns of the Indianapolis Colts.

The competition was arranged by a nonprofit group called Pro vs. Joe, which arranges matches between professional athletes and military personnel serving overseas.

Two other Packer linemen, Mike Montgomery and Tony Moll, played Halo 3 against Staff Sgt. James Wagner, who is stationed in Guantanamo Bay. The Marine lost:

I got slaughtered. I thought my video game skills were better, but we made it credible. The kids took care of business. Those Packers players must have a lot of time on their hands.

Here's a bit more on the Pro vs. Joe program, including news that three Philadelphia Eagles participated in Madden games with military personnel last month.

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Lawsuit Claims EA Used UNLV Fight Song in NCAA Games w/o Permission

October 14, 2008 -

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada late last month alleges that sports game publisher Electronic Arts used the UNLV fight song in various NCAA-licensed games without obtaining permission of the composer.

Gerald Willis of Washoe County says in the suit that he is the composer and copyright holder of both the lyrics and music of Win With the Rebels. Willis claims that his tune can be heard in the following games:

  • NCAA Basketball 09
  • NCAA Football 09
  • NCAA March Madness 08
  • NCAA Football 08
  • NCAA March Madness 07
  • NCAA Football 07
  • MVP NCAA Baseball 07
  • NCAA March Madness 06
  • NCAA Football 06
  • MVP NCAA Baseball 06

From the complaint:

...an important element of Defendants' software is its realistic feel that is created, at least in part, by its recorded and reproduced sounds including but not limited to college fight song.

Willis seeks $150,000 per alleged copyright violation. We have a request in to EA for comment.

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EA Chairman Will Head U.S. Olympic Committee

October 2, 2008 -

Larry Probst, Chairman of the Board of Electronic Arts, has been named the new Chairman of the United States Olympic Committe, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Probst succeeds former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth in the post and will likely lead efforts to bring the 2016 games to Chicago.

A press release on the USOC website offers reaction from the 58-year-old Probst:

I am honored to have the opportunity to serve an organization and a movement that makes such a significant difference in our world today. This is a movement built upon the spirit and dedication of athletes, and the selfless commitment of volunteers. By working closely with my fellow Board members, the USOC staff and the greater Olympic family in our country, my goal as Chairman is to preserve and strengthen opportunities for all those who wish to participate in this important endeavor.

 

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NFLPA Madden Lawsuit: We Have the Smoking Gun Document

October 1, 2008 -

Yesterday GamePolitics reported on troubling e-mails between representatives of the NFL players' union (NFLPA) and EA Sports which seemed to indicate that retired NFL players depicted in Madden's classic teams were not well represented by the NFLPA and its licensing arm, Players, Inc (PI).

The e-mails are contained in court documents from Parrish, Adderley, Roberts, et al vs NFLPA, a class action suit scheduled to begin on October 20 in federal court in San Francisco. A reading of the e-mails appears to indicate:

  • some retired players received far less than their market value to appear in Madden
  • some retired players had details such as name and number "scrambled" so they would not be compensated
  • Take-Two's competing football game prospects were damaged by the NFLPA's deal with EA

Before going further, it is important to note a couple of points:

  1. Electronic Arts is not a defendant in the lawsuit, nor is any wrongdoing alleged by EA. The company paid its licensing money to the NFLPA. The plaintiffs, retired NFL players, take issue with the distribution of those funds by the NFLPA.
  2. Madden is not the only licensed product at issue, although it is by far the most lucrative. Others mentioned include such items as Topps football cards. Much of the case, however, revolves around Madden.

To recap the smoking gun e-mails, we'll start with former PI exec LaShun Lawson's e-mail to Madden producer Jeremy Strauser:

For all retired players that are not listed... their identity must be altered so that it cannot be recognized... Hence, any and all players not listed... cannot be represented in Madden 2002 with the number that player actually wore, and must be scrambled.

An e-mail from PI exec Clay Walker touches on how Take-Two lost out in the deal. This would appear to refer to 2K Sports' failed All-Pro Football 2K8:

Take Two... 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.

GP: We promised the document. Get it here.

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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.”

In Lawsuit Over Madden Payments, NFL Retirees Appeal to Madden Himself

September 30, 2008 -

NFL retirees who are seeking a bigger slice of the pie from licensing deals such as the one involving the Madden NFL video game series have appealed to the man himself.

In Parrish, Adderley et al vs NFL Players, Inc., a class action lawsuit scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court in California in October, the former players claim that they have not gotten their fare share of revenues despite being depicted as members of some classic teams in Madden. The retired players are suing NFL Players, Inc., the licensing arm of the players union, the NFLPA.

Jeff Nixon, 51, who played free safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-1984 is tracking the lawsuit on his blog. Nixon has penned an open letter to John Madden, calling for the football announcer and former NFL coach to support the retired players:

You are... the face and name behind the wildly popular EA Sports Video Game - Madden NFL... will you sit back and let the NFLPA and EA Sports continue to take advantage of our Hall of Fame players?

 

...Evidence in the Retired Players Class Action suit demonstrates that the NFLPA and Players Inc. were working against the interests of the retired players and in favor of your boss EA Sports. For example, this internal email from NFLPA Executive Clay Walker, confirms that Players Inc. negotiated a deal with EA on behalf of retired Hall of Fame players which was significantly below market rate:

 

“I was able to forge this deal with the HOF 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 of that threat was enough to persuade Take Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there.”

 

...Instead of negotiating the best possible deal for the retired players which it purported to represent, the NFLPA and Players Inc. were doing favors for EA by reducing compensation to retired players, and driving a competitive licensee [Take-Two's NFL2K series] out of the market...

 

And in this February 22, 2007 email from NFLPA Executive Clay Walker to Players Inc. in-house attorney Joe Nahra, the naked truth is exposed to the world:

 

“...The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it’s a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply. You have to remember that EA’s total cost is only $200,000 per year. We know that Take Two offered six figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices..."

 

John, these are your fellow Hall of Fame Players they are talking about! Are you going to let them get away with this? I know that EA is your employer, but come on...

 

GP: We're working on obtaining additional documents in the suit. The information concerning the elimination of Take-Two Interactive's NFL2K series is fascinating, to say the least. That's a topic about which GP has railed for some time.

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Ex-NFL Wideout Pushes Money Sim at RNC

September 5, 2008 -

Cnet's Declan McCullough reports that former Minnesota Vikings star Cris Carter was on hand at the Republican National Convention this week to hype Financial Football. The free game, created by Visa and the NFL, is designed to teach money management skills to young adults.

Said Carter:

Young people need to know how to make smart money management decisions before heading off to college and entering the workforce.

Former Broncos receiver Rod Smith performed similar duties at the DNC in Denver last week.

In addition to the PC version, Financial Football is a free D/L to mobile phones. Text the word VISA to 24421.

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Former Turbine CEO Talks to WSJ about EA-T2 Monopoly Threat

August 20, 2008 -

Yesterday we noted a New York Post report on the proposed EA takeover of Take-Two which claimed that the Federal Trade Commission, scheduled to rule on the merger by tomorrow, might require that T2 spin off one or more of its sports franchises so as not to hand EA a stranglehold on the sports segment of the market.

Heidi Moore of the Wall Street Journal digs a little deeper, interviewing Jeff Anderson, CEO of startup online sports gaming service Play Hard Sports (and former Turbine CEO) concerning his view of potential monopoly issues:

It’s in the best interests of consumers to have a choice. I’m always in favor of having more choice in the marketplace. Look at the ESPN football product when it came out. There was no [NFL] exclusivity agreement then. When Take Two changed its price point, people moved toward the Take-Two product and forced EA to reduce its price. You saw how competition can work in the advantage of the consumer.

 

The question we’re looking at, and what the FTC should be looking at, is whether this will reduce competition. If Take-Two’s sports franchise becomes part of EA, will that influence competition for the better or not? And will it influence prices positively or negatively?

 

Generally I’m not a fan of monopolies in the gaming world. We’re interested in providing a new choice to consumers. As a gameplayer, we’d love to see great games produced by these studios. And we’d love to see them compete.

9 comments

Hef, Mini-Me at Madden VIP Launch Party

August 9, 2008 -

The Sporting News has coverage of a Madden VIP premiere party from Thursday night, complete with a cast of third-tier celebs like Verne (Mini-Me) Troyer, Tom Arnold and, oddly, Hugh Hefner (with bored-looking female companions in tow).

Madden 09 launches on Tuesday, of course. After the GTA IV launch, about which GamePolitics probably ran 25 stories, the Madden debut will be the second biggest game release of the year. Madden, fairly free of controversy, gets just this one.

GP: Personally, I'm way more interested in getting my mitts on Spore and Fallout 3, but the annual Madden launch is always an event, especially given that this year is the 20th anniversary of the series.

Via: Deadspin

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Zenperformance. Halo 1 and 2 worked great because they actually did custom work on each of them...just like Nintendo does now lol07/30/2014 - 4:08pm
Zenexisting hardware while the GBA has to be emulated completely. Same reason the 360 couldn't run most Original Xbox games correctly, or had issues because they just did "blanket approach" for their emulation which led to game killing bugs or horrible07/30/2014 - 4:07pm
ZenSora/Matthew: It's not just Miiverse, but the whole idea of streetpass and things like that would be affected if the OS is not running. And just because a 3DS game can be downloaded and run does not mean that GBA can as easily. Those 3DS games use the07/30/2014 - 4:06pm
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, How is that different from every other credit card company targeting high school and college students?07/30/2014 - 1:40pm
Sleaker@EZK - I think some people are concerned beacuse it's a predatory technique targetted toward younger people that don't understand on top of offering the worst interest rates of any retailer around.07/30/2014 - 11:33am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/30/europe-gets-long-detained-shin-megami-tensei-4-at-cut-price/ "Sorry you had to wait a year for SMT4, would a price cut make it sting less?"07/30/2014 - 10:29am
NeenekoI would hope not. Though it is not unheard of for store specific cards to be pretty good.07/30/2014 - 8:17am
E. Zachary KnightDoes anyone, or at least any intelligent person, expect a retail branded credit card to be anything close to resembling a "good deal" on interest rates?07/30/2014 - 7:13am
SleakerGamestop articles popping up everywhere about their ludicrous new Credit card offerings at a whopping pre-approval for 26.9% APR07/29/2014 - 10:19pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/07/podcasting-patent-troll-we-tried-to-drop-lawsuit-against-adam-carolla/ the podcasting patent troll scum is trying to turn tail and run.07/29/2014 - 9:50pm
MaskedPixelanteOf course it's improved. At launch, Origin was scanning your entire hard drive, but now it's just scanning your browsing history. If that's not an improvement, I dunno what is!07/29/2014 - 8:59pm
Papa Midnighthttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/columns/experienced-points/12029-Has-EAs-Origin-Service-Improved-Any-Over-the-Last-Two-Years07/29/2014 - 8:25pm
Sora-ChanSo it's just a matter of having better emulation software. If it can be done with a 3DS game, with all the memory and what not it takes up, it can be done with a GBA title through emulation.07/29/2014 - 7:30pm
Sora-ChanOther VC titles for the NES and Gameboy had the same setup where you couldn't access the homescreen without quitting out of the game til a later update when those games were released for the public outside of the founder program.07/29/2014 - 7:28pm
Sora-Chanthe 3DS can, and does, run GBA games, as seen by the founder gifts, which included a number of GBA titles. As for running GBA games and still having access to the home screen, I beleive it's more of the game emulation software needs to be updated.07/29/2014 - 7:27pm
Matthew Wilsonthe 3ds already swaps os's with the original ds. plus I dont think people expect miverse interaction when playing a gba game.07/29/2014 - 6:06pm
MaskedPixelanteBut that's not the issue, the 3DS is perfectly capable of emulating GBA games. The problem is that it doesn't have enough available system resources to run it alongside the 3DS OS, and thus it doesn't have access to stuff like Miiverse and save states.07/29/2014 - 5:45pm
Matthew WilsonI am well aware that it requires more power, but if a GBA emulator could run well on a original psp, than it should work on a 3ds.07/29/2014 - 5:36pm
ZenThe reason the SNES could run Gameboy, or the Gamecube could run GBA was because their adapters included all of the necessary hardware to do it in the respective add-ons. The systems were just conduits for control inputs and video/sound/power.07/29/2014 - 4:51pm
ZenMatthew: Emulation takes more power than people realize to run a game properly. You can make something run on less, but Nintendo...as slow as they are at releasing them..makes them run as close to 100% as possible. Each game has its own emulator for it.07/29/2014 - 4:47pm
 

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