Developer wins EA Madden royalties lawsuit

In a case that proves that David really can beat Goliath, a Californian court has ruled in favour of Robin Antonick in his case against Electronic Arts. Antonick, the original developer and designer of Madden NFL Football, alleged that EA failed to pay him a significant amount in royalties for the franchise – and the court agreed, awarding him more than US$11 million.

John Madden Football

John Madden Football

EA has responded to the findings:

While we’re disappointed with the jury’s verdict and will appeal, this has always been a case about games from the early 1990s, and it has no impact on today’s Madden NFL franchise.

The story goes: Back in 1986, Antonick and EA came to an agreement: EA would pay Antonick royalties on any derivative works related to the original version of Madden (including annual releases) and prohibiting the publisher from using the developer’s confidential information. Over the years, it seems EA failed on both counts.

The jury found “several” EA games published between 1990-96 were “virtually identical” to the original – Antonick-developed – Madden NFL Football, using substantially similar formations and plays.

One of Antonick’s attorneys, Rob Carey, states:

This is a tremendous victory. In many ways, this trial was a test of each party’s version of events. The jury uniformly rejected the idea that this game was developed without Robin’s work. It is, if nothing, a good omen for the next phase of the litigation.

The “next phase” Carey refers to: This latest verdict now means that Antonick can pursue the same claims against EA for games released much more recently, and with significantly higher price tags – the Madden franchise has raked in more than US$3bn in revenue, and Antonick may be eligible for a chunk of that.

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