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...

43 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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Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/another-world-rated-for-current-consoles-handhelds-in-germany/ Another World fulfills legal obligations of being on every gaming system under the sun.04/23/2014 - 12:34pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-do-strong-reviews-lead-to-stronger-sales-on-steam/?comments=1 Here is another data driven article using sales data from steam to figure out if reviews effect sales. It is stats heavy like the last one.04/23/2014 - 11:33am
Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
TheSmokeyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/call-of-duty-swatting-hoax_n_5195659.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada CoD loser calls SWAT on person who beat him04/23/2014 - 7:13am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/xbox-one-reaches-japan-on-september-4/ Just give it up, Microsoft. You're NEVER going to be big in Japan, especially now that the notoriously clunky in Japan Kinect is MANDATORY.04/23/2014 - 7:10am
Cheater87Has this been posted yet? http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Lord+Spencer/ssv-saudi-arabia-bans-bravely-default-because-it-promotes-pedophilia--272016.phtml04/22/2014 - 9:31pm
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/133898-Fatal-Frame-V-Coming-Exclusively-to-Wii-U04/22/2014 - 8:50pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a game worth playing if you have a pc/360/ps304/20/2014 - 9:34pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/457552538343325696 The Lutece Twins show up in some of the most unlikely of places.04/20/2014 - 2:44pm
Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
 

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