6,000 NFL players sue EA over Madden NFL 09
Electronic Arts are being sued by close to 6,000 retired National Football League players over the “unlawful” use of the players’ likenesses in Madden NFL 09. It is alleged that the publisher “knowingly and intentionally” used their likenesses for the historic teams in a way that avoided having to pay licensing fees. Naughty naughty.
Tony Davis, plaintiff and former NFL running back, accuses EA of using the players’ exact stats and positions from their playing days (including height and weight) in Madden NFL 09, making it obvious who the players’ are, even if their names and uniforms were different. The following statement comes from the lawsuit:
“The only significant detail that EA changes from the real-life retired NFL players is their jersey number, despite EA’s ‘scrambling’ of the retired NFL players’ numbers, the games are designed so that consumers of the Madden NFL video game franchise will have no difficulty identifying who the ‘historic’ players are.”
The suit says that EA has “traded in the popularity of historic NFL teams and the likenesses of the players who comprised the rosters of those teams to enhance the revenue and popularity of EA’s Madden NFL 09 video game franchise.” The suit also highlights the fact that gamers can edit rosters to add the correct names to the players.
The story was picked up by IGN, who asked EA if they would like to comment; they declined the invitation telling IGN that they do not comment on pending litigation.
A complete version of the lawsuit, in PDF format, can be viewed from here.
What EA have allegedly done is not usual in sporting games. After all, everyone knew who Roberto Larcos was, playing for Brazil in the old Pro Evo games. These have given us many memorable memories in the past. Should the former NFL players win the lawsuit, we can be sure we won’t be seeing this practise getting used again in the future.