April 2, 2011

Madden NFL Creator Files Suit Against EA

The man who created the original version of the hugely popular "Madden NFL Football" video game franchise is suing Electronic Arts for tens of millions of dollars in royalties and possibly even billions in profits, according to a recent Reuters report.

Robin Antonick is asking for a jury trial in California, stressing in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday that the Madden franchise has deprived him of his fortunes.

Illinois-born Antonick said he created the football video game, which has sold more than 85 million copies in the more than 20 years the franchise has been out there. The first versions of the game were developed for Commodore 64, MS Dos, and Apple II systems and were released in 1988.

Antonick said he created the game with programming expertise and knowledge of John Madden's coaching behavior in calling plays in certain game situations.

He said he signed a development contract with EA in 1986 that allegedly entitles him to royalties on derivative versions of the Madden game. Antonick said in the years after signing the contract, he worked in a cubicle just a few feet away for EA founder Trip Hawkins.

"Only recently, as a result of publicity surrounding the 20th Anniversary of the 'Madden' videogame did Antonick become aware that Electronic Arts did not independently develop subsequent versions of its Madden NFL software," the complaint said. "Instead, according to recent statements by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the current generation of software apparently derived from software developed by Antonick."

Antonick is seeking royalties and reimbursements of all profits from the sale of the game as the result due to fraudulent behavior. The Madden video game franchise has earned more than $4 billion in profits to date.

Antonick said he hasn't received a royalty payment since about 1992. EA looked to branch the franchise out to other platforms in the early 1990s, and licensed versions without Antonick's approval.

Antonick said he didn't know at the time that "Electronic Arts decided that it did not want to share profits with him even though he was responsible for the development of virtually all of the ground-breaking technology at the heart of the game."

EA and Antonick have engaged in confidential settlement negotiations over the past few years, according to sources familiar with the issue.


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