The massively popular Madden NFL series was in the headlines last week, thanks to the game’s introduction of more realistic concussion treatments. Now though, it’s back up there again, for a slightly less consumer-friendly reason. Turns out that one of the game’s creators – Robin Antonick – is suing publisher Electronic Arts for “tens of millions of dollars” in owed royalties. The number gets bigger when you factor in the billions of dollars of profits the franchise has taken after selling more than 85 million copies over 20 years.
Antonick’s lawsuit states that he has been “cut out” of the Madden fortune, despite claiming that he created the ground-breaking video game.
The first versions of the game were released in 1988, for the Commodore 64, MS DOS and Apple II home computers. Antonick says that he contributed programming expertise to the project, as well as extensive knowledge of the real John Madden’s behaviour when calling plays. At the time, he signed a contract with EA, which apparently entitles Antonick to royalties on “derivative versions” of this original game, which he continued to work on from 1986, “a few feet away” from EA founder Trip Hawkins.
According to Antonick, despite the significant changes the franchise has experienced over the decades, at heart, he says it’s still based on his game.
The complaint reads, in part:
“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.
“Instead, according to recent statements by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the current generation of software apparently derived from software developed by Antonick.”
…and thus, a lawsuit was born. Antonick is claiming tens of millions of owed royalties, and accuses EA of fraudulent behaviour, meaning he should be given a share of the profits, too. He says he hasn’t seen a royalty payment since the early 90s.