EA Sports tied to retired NFL players' suit

Discovery phase of class-action suit finds EA got a sweetheart deal on Hall of Famers' rights.

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The NFL Players Association is facing a class-action lawsuit from retired players, and NFLPA licensee Electronic Arts is on the sidelines as the two groups square off in court.

A group of former NFLers is suing the players association over licensing deals it made, specifically an agreement with EA Sports to include Hall of Famers in the Madden series of games. According to a post on the NFL Retired Players United blog (as spotted by GamePolitics), e-mails from NFLPA representatives turned up evidence that the union made a sweetheart deal with EA that cost Hall of Fame players royalty revenue.

The blog posts an excerpt from one e-mail to an attorney at the union's Players Inc. marketing arm, in which NFLPA executive Clay Walker talks about securing a number of player rights for less than market value.

"The per player price for most of these guys was tens of thousands of dollars less than what they were guaranteed by Take Two Interactive so it's a real coup that we were able to pull this off so cheaply," the e-mail read. "You have to remember that EA's total cost is only $200,000 per year. We know that Take Two offered six-figure deals to several former NFL players so the total cost is millions below market prices."

In another e-mail supposedly from Walker, the executive says EA owes him "a huge favor" because a deal struck with the Hall of Fame "was enough to persuade Take-Two to back off its plans, leaving EA as the only professional football videogame manufacturer out there."

While Electronic Arts has an exclusive license to make NFL games, Take-Two last year attempted to launch a new series with All-Pro Football 2K8. The game sought to make up for the lack of the NFL license by including the names and likenesses of hundreds of retired gridiron legends. However, after the first installment met with lukewarm reviews and sluggish sales, the All-Pro series was benched.

Discussion

57 comments
mosesdg2001
mosesdg2001

2k5 was the best if not still the best football game out there. first of all it had sports center built in to it so what ever happened during the week all u had to do was push the left stick in and it showed all the highlights of the week like sports center would and you could create your own stadium music for interception, touchdowns, etc... I only play madden because it's the only thing out now. 2k was most def. better than the madden series.

Jimmy20000
Jimmy20000

I haven't played this game yet, but i have Madden 08 and i'm dying to play Madden 09 already!

Jimmy20000
Jimmy20000

I haven't played this game yrt, but I have Madden 08 and i'm already dying to play Madden 09!

VoltySquirrel94
VoltySquirrel94

@i_like_toast Congress has bigger things to worry about right now. Plummeting economy anyone?

rbop
rbop

I obviously don't agree w/ EA's business practice, and the company's sports divisions are basically monopolys... that being said anyone who thinks that 2K football is/was/or ever will be better than Madden is insane. All Pro was HORRIBLE. 2K baseball trumps the old EA series by a lot, but the football is just bad!

sportwarrior
sportwarrior

I really enjoyed the All Pro game. It definitely needed to be deeper with a franchise mode, but it was a damn solid football game and reminded me of what made the 2K series so damned superior to Madden. Stupid EA.

Autolycus
Autolycus

Its the exact same example of employees should be paid more because they make the millionaire executives all the money. It'll never happen because greed rules this country. it has for the past 15 years.

PlanetAnyhow
PlanetAnyhow

The bottom line here is simple; the players should get their money. The players are the reason gamers buy league-licensed products, and the players are what gives the NFLPA executives a job to do in the first place. In my opinion, the bigger issue here is that the NFLPA has too much control over retired players. They are retired, which technically means they aren't players, which means they shouldn't belong to the NFL PLAYERS Association anymore. In my view, for protection purposes, there should be a separate association for retired players, and there should be a system in place to allow seamless movement from one association to another (and, in Brett Favre's case, back and forth). As far as the issue of exclusivity goes, the issue is complex. As with any monopoly (ahem, Windows), quality has a tendency to drop somewhat, but I believe that in some sense, human nature contributes to that. So, if EA's Madden games have suffered from a quality standpoint, that's no one's fault but the makers of the games. HOWEVER, if we as gamers blindly buy EA games for reasons such as "it's EA, so it must be better than that new brand", or "they have the NFL license, so they must make the best game", then it's OUR faults that EA escapes every year making a sub-par game. To be clear: It's not our fault that they MAKE a poor quality game, but if we buy it every year regardless of quality, then why should they improve? The same goes with every monopoly, I believe. If everyone suddenly switched to Linux, Microsoft would eventually have to listen to users and improve the quality of Windows if they want their share of the market back. So, the only way to get better Madden games from the owners of these exclusivity rights is to STOP buying the games until quality is back where we believe it should be.

Henninger
Henninger

Y is every1 hatin on All-Pro Football 2K8? That game's gameplay wuz pretty much the same as NFL 2K5. & a lot of people consider that game as 1 of the greatest football games of all time. So now that it doesnt have NFL teams & current players its garbage? Doesn't make sense 2 me. Madden in my opinion has always been overrated. The gameplay just seems fake 2 me compared 2 Take-Two's. & on top of that Madden is the same game every year!

drakron
drakron

Why? Nothing stops anyone to make a Football video game ... just like nobody can stop anyone to start up a new Football League. EA have the "exclusive" in the sense they have the exclusive use of the NFL license, the fact the public buys it BECAUSE it have a NFL is the public fault. After all, EA have the FIFA series and that does not stop Konami and others to put out their own soccer games.

i_like_toast
i_like_toast

I wish congress would step up and prevent this exclusive deal bull. This deal has done nothing but stop competition which results in half-assed games for us. Both football and baseball games see this.

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

Sounds likes some insider trading has ben going on....rip away that NFL deal from EA so Take 2 can get back in the game...since their game was better at the time.

jahrv76
jahrv76

"so much for your high regard of NFL 2K Sports... maybe their games used to be good, not anymore" Yeah, I guess that makes two companies that can't make a good football game.

xbox4life76
xbox4life76

Somebody at the NFLPA is going to get caught with some extra $$$ in his pockets while it truly belongs to the former NFL'ers. The principle is the players make the game, not the NFLPA...EA is no guilty party in this either.

WardCleaver02
WardCleaver02

Something about those e-mail excerpts seems fishy. They do not sound like professionals corresponding.

makemeweak
makemeweak

Just because they got the licenses on the cheap doesn't mean they got them unfairly or illegally. We'll have to see more details on the suit to see if it has merit.

mrjasler
mrjasler

"However, after the first installment met with lukewarm reviews and sluggish sales, the All-Pro series was benched. " so much for your high regard of NFL 2K Sports... maybe their games used to be good, not anymore

phase4illini
phase4illini

I was never a fan of EA's ability to gain league exclusivity. I have little doubt that the lack of competition has allowed EA to sit on their laurels on their Madden series. But on a more serious point of contention, with all the other shady dealings going on between the NFLPA and the retired players right now, this cries out as the shadiest of them all. On the face of all this, it looks like EA and the NFLPA made a sweet little hush-hush deal to keep retired players from receiving the royalties that they should otherwise be entitled. The fact that this occurs concurrently with the issue that the NFLPA has been taking steps to stave off better medical support for retired players who, in most cases, gave their bodies for the game, is unsettling. Before we jump back on the "professional athletes are paid too much" bandwagon (one that I agree with to an extent), a majority of retired players pushing for better medical compensation from the league are those that played before free agency, where the big money contracts didn't exist as they do today. And even so, the big name players are usually the only ones with the excessive contracts, and so far, that's been nothing but fueled by the outrageous rookie draft contracts, another issue that the NFLPA needs to bend on to the league. No rookie player should be making millions in the NFL before they've even played in a real game. So I got a little off-topic, but in the end, I hope that EA and the NFLPA get their P P’s slapped for this seemingly shady deal.

MarcJL31
MarcJL31

I agree with both arguments from people below. On one hand, professional players complain so much about how much they are getting paid when they make millions playing a sport. A job they should be blessed to have in the first place. ON the other hand, I hope EA does get some fire over this because it is sad that a company has to literally buy out the competition or franchise because they don't want to have to actually invest the time to make a guy that can compete with other developers.

hunter8man
hunter8man

EA deserves whatever they get from this. ESPN did a special on retired NFL players a few years back, and Mike Ditka called out the NFLPA for screwing them over, and EA is doing the same. I wish they ruled to break EA's NFL exclusive rights, or start paying them more. Then again, I would be content if the Wii version of Tecmo Bowl ends up as fun and popular as the original versions to show you don't need the NFL license to make a fun football game.

AGamerDiet
AGamerDiet

So its nice to know that EA admits they are trying to avoid competition. I guess its not a monopoly since anyone can make a football game just not an NFL one. I just wish someone would go ahead and make a regular football game with a made up league that wasnt over the top crazy like blitz. I havent bought Madden in years and have no plans to change. I did get NCAA on the cheap this year but I wish EA had some competition there too.

Wuflungdung
Wuflungdung

just shows what sort of people both sides are. I'd happily play professional sport for free, and have my likeness in games for free. But hey I am old fashioned an not a yank.

endocrine
endocrine

If I was the NFL I would not give retired nfl players a dime. If half these people didn't blow their money on strip clubs they would not need the thousands they would get from a better deal.

grand17
grand17

i dont know why people keep buying madden year after year. its the same game

rogue81
rogue81

I never thought the day would come when EA's dealings would come back to bite them in the rear end, but I'm so glad it has! Hopefully the suit will follow through and seek compensation from EA, and end their exclusive deal as well.

cooldude03
cooldude03

business greed vs personal greed? Who's your money on, either way they'll fight for that too.

FrankenLife
FrankenLife

This is sad. Ripping off retired players is low. I expect this from EA, but not the players association.

NA3D
NA3D

worldind - the government hates the game industry, that wont happen this is most important to a monopoly suit against EA right now.

maaly81
maaly81

greedy tards! why they taking money outta retired players pockets?? money hungry people. NFL doesnt need to sign over rights again. bad idea from jumpstreet

worldind913
worldind913

oh please don't wish EA Sports to lose millions(not that I approve of their laziness and lackluster games), next thing I need to hear is "Government Bails Out EA, After Losing Millions"

xkojimax
xkojimax

totally agree with jlgil. if they had competition they would actually TRY and make the game better.

jlgil8
jlgil8

Wish this would cause EA to lose solo rights to the NFL, even if 2K could never come out with an NFL as good as; "ESPN 2K5", it would force EA to make better Madden games than they have for years now! So, aside from this $$$$ action suit, please strip them EA from exclusive rights for the NFL and NASCAR, as well as, no more solo/exclusive rights to sports games, for any developers!

mugupo
mugupo

EA doesn't learn, didn't they use to had like legend retire star in the older NBA live game, i remember back then like 2000 or 01 you can play nearly all the greatest NBA player, lol i created like 6 michael jordan, and they GOD!

gijerky
gijerky

EA and NFL wounder who will pay the most to win

LoserMike
LoserMike

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

LoserMike
LoserMike

NFLPA sucks. They're the weakest player union of all sports. NFL players die young and get injured the most yet they receive the least pay and the least benefits. They're the only major sport that doesn't have guaranteed contracts for its players. So if a player gets injured he could be cut and not get his pay. No wonder many former NFL players don't stay on with NFLPA when they retire. They're probably not getting any pension funds from them or medical help for all the injuries they suffered while playing.

jphillips1868
jphillips1868

There needs to be some sort of regulatory action against EA to break up the company. They have become too big and are abusing their market position.

king23_
king23_

EA Sports deserves to lose millions.

seeddrmmr
seeddrmmr

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

I hope the former players win. I'm not sure how many follow but the NFL and the NFLPA have little regard for those who came before... Though, as far as EA goes this really has nothing to do with them... Its all about how the powers that be inside the NFL want to cut the huge billion dollar pie that is the NFL." I agree with you in the sense that their health care after they leave the league sucks. But for any player that played from 85 on should of invested their millions for this exact day when their broken down. I would like to see better healthcare but its a catch 22, you dont wanna be too generous cuz then your league looks like the nba with these albatross contracts that make it harder to build your team up.

taj7575
taj7575

I hope this makes them loose their NFL games excusivity in some way... I dont care what way, I just want them to loose their exclusive lisence.

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

"Nishua Posted Sep 30, 2008 11:54 pm PT I hope they win and EA will lose millions " Yeah so that million dollar athletes can have a few extra million

LooseChangepor
LooseChangepor

"Nishua Posted Sep 30, 2008 11:54 pm PT I hope they win and EA will lose millions " Yeah so that million dollar athletes can have a few extra million

Toro_Nev
Toro_Nev

Theyre really in control of the NFL games.....

umbrae
umbrae

Should be a no brainer. The NFL or EA is going to have to pony up past royalties.

ilikewhatyouhat
ilikewhatyouhat

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Nishua
Nishua

I hope they win and EA will lose millions.