John Madden Football Designer Scores Big Against EA

John Madden Football Designer Scores Big Against EA

John Madden Football screen

Robin Antonick has claimed victory in the first phase of his Madden NFL lawsuit against Electronic Arts.

It may be hard to believe, given what a behemoth its become over the past 25 years, but the original John Madden Football was made by ten people - and that includes the guy who wrote the manual, the guy who took the picture for the box and of course John Madden himself. How things change, eh? One of those developers was Robin Antonick, a designer and programmer on the game, who claimed in a 2011 lawsuit that the Madden NFL franchise is still based on his work despite the fact that he hasn't received a royalty check since 1992.

There's an awful lot of money on the table - Madden NFL is a $5 billion franchise, according to his legal reps - and it's starting to look like Antonick could be taking home a fair chunk of it. A judge ruled in April that the case could proceed and on Friday a jury found in Antonick's favor in the first phase of the trial, declaring that he did not know prior to 2005 that EA had used his work in later Madden NFL games. EA had argued that Antonick had waited too long to file his lawsuit, and that the statute of limitations on the matter had expired.

"This is a major validation of Mr. Antonick's testimony. This was by far EA's strongest defense, and the jury's verdict unanimously supported Mr. Antonick, which also means the jury probably thinks some significant information was concealed," attorney Rob Carey said in a statement. "Now the case goes to the merits, where we have irrefutable evidence. We are confident that we will be able to demonstrate that EA failed to live up to its agreement with Mr. Antonick and lied to him about the use of his protected work product in the games."

With that out of the way, the jury will now begin deliberations on whether EA did in fact use Antonick's work without his knowledge.

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Still using the same code after 20 years? EA truly has no shame :P

Andy Chalk:
John Madden Football Designer Scores Big Against EA

EA had argued that Antonick had waited too long to file his lawsuit, and that the statute of limitations on the matter had expired.

That's an... interesting argument. "Yup, we're ripping this dude off, but he didn't know 'til now so neener-neener-neener."
I'm sure it's legally valid and all, but still seems kind of messed up to me.

On another note, you know all those jokes and observations about how all the maddens are just the same thing with a superficial roster change? I think we just got validation if the core code is still the same from 1992. On the other hand, how same could the code be if the game spans three generations of consoles? What code could he have contributed that survived that many changes in tech? I'm not doubting him, I'm honestly curious.

Andy Chalk:
With that out of the way, the jury will now begin deliberations on whether EA did in fact use Antonick's work without his knowledge.

Surely they should figure that out first! Why are they only getting to it now?

tilmoph:

What code could he have contributed that survived that many changes in tech? I'm not doubting him, I'm honestly curious.

Probably AI code. If AI works, it works. It doesn't really matter that much if it's spites or 3D models (up to a point), the logic would be fairly similar.

Except for that, I'm not sure.

And I thought Call of Duty was being lazy for not changing the engine since it first came out.

DVS BSTrD:
Still using the same code after 20 years? EA truly has no shame :P

Yup all those who said Madden is just a copy paste with an updated roster is technically vindicated at this point. lol.

I'm glad this man is winning and I hope he does get paid.

I hope that Robin Antonick wins his case. He truly deserves it and EA deserves a hard karmic slap across the face just to remind them that your actions, especially the bad ones, have consequences.

kailus13:
Surely they should figure that out first! Why are they only getting to it now?

Presumably because it's a moot point if Antonick doesn't have standing to bring the case in the first place. Cart before the horse and all that.

TheMadJack:

tilmoph:

What code could he have contributed that survived that many changes in tech? I'm not doubting him, I'm honestly curious.

Probably AI code. If AI works, it works. It doesn't really matter that much if it's spites or 3D models (up to a point), the logic would be fairly similar.

Except for that, I'm not sure.

My guess is on stats. Stat-keeping really hasn't changed in 20 years, so why change the code?

Who wants to bet this gets settled out of court? He's about to win an "undisclosed" amount of money to go away.

maddog015:
Who wants to bet this gets settled out of court? He's about to win an "undisclosed" amount of money to go away.

Honestly I would settle. The guy probably only want recognition (monetary compensation) for what's rightfully his. He doesn't have to be greedy about it. But that's just me. Maybe he does want to make it an example. And if he does, well, can't say EA hasn't asked to be punished. Looks like they stole it from him.

TheMadJack:

maddog015:
Who wants to bet this gets settled out of court? He's about to win an "undisclosed" amount of money to go away.

Honestly I would settle. The guy probably only want recognition (monetary compensation) for what's rightfully his. He doesn't have to be greedy about it. But that's just me. Maybe he does want to make it an example. And if he does, well, can't say EA hasn't asked to be punished. Looks like they stole it from him.

I'd probably settle as well. Even "not being greedy" would be enough money to retire comfortably.

maddog015:
Who wants to bet this gets settled out of court? He's about to win an "undisclosed" amount of money to go away.

No bet here.

EA typically settles out of court to prevent the setting of precedent. Any country that uses the English legal system (including the U.S., except for Louisiana) relies upon previously set precedent to resolve disputes. If Antonick wins, then that sets precedent that will make it harder for EA to defend themselves in similar cases.

So, yeah, they'll throw money at the problem because it'll be cheaper for them in the long run.

MinionJoe:

maddog015:
Who wants to bet this gets settled out of court? He's about to win an "undisclosed" amount of money to go away.

No bet here.

EA typically settles out of court to prevent the setting of precedent. Any country that uses the English legal system (including the U.S., except for Louisiana) relies upon previously set precedent to resolve disputes. If Antonick wins, then that sets precedent that will make it harder for EA to defend themselves in similar cases.

So, yeah, they'll throw money at the problem because it'll be cheaper for them in the long run.

You took the words right out of my mouth, bravo!

He is 100% going to settle unless he is the type of person who is fighting for a purpose. However, his purpose seems to be to get the royalties he rightfully deserves (nothing wrong with that).

EA can't afford to have a precedent set and open the floodgates to future issues.

It's great how people just assume this guy is fighting for 'royalties he rightfully deserves' without any evidence that he does indeed deserve anything at all.

 

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