Original Madden Programmer Wins Lawsuit Against EA
After a three day deliberation, a Californian jury awarded Robin Antonick – the original designer Madden NFL – more than $11 million dollars in damages after EA failed to pay the programmer royalties for the series.
Earlier this year, Antonick filed a suit against EA for using software he had programmed and then failing to pay him royalties on successive releases of Madden. EA tried to downplay Antonick's role in the series, but a Californian court didn't feel the same way, and now EA will have to pay Antonick over $11 million dollars. Antonick also has the option to continue to pursue EA for royalties on games that were published after 1997 – games with significantly higher revenues and possible damages.
In the case, Antonick claimed that he had signed a series of publishing and development contracts with EA, culminating in a 1986 agreement that stated that EA would pay Antonick royalties on any derivative works related to the original EA Madden, which Antonick had developed.
The jury determined that several of EA’s Madden games, published between 1990-1996, were similar enough to Antonick's original that that EA would have to play back royalties. A future phase of the trial will be held to determine whether EA is responsible for paying Antonick for games published after 1997.
An EA Spokesperson told us, "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."
Lawsuits suck, but so does not getting paid for something that you spent time working on. Game Informer's Mike Futter thinks, "This is an important step for Antonick, and even if EA proves victorious in the second phase of the trial, the funds awarded to Madden's original developer and the recognition from this suit should give him some peace. If he is able to succeed in the second phase. Things could be very interesting. A victory related to more recent titles would put EA in a difficult situation and likely incentivize a full overhaul in the development of future football titles. The second phase is about more than money. It's about the culture of Madden and its fans."