Madden creator sues Electronic Arts for unpaid royalties on alleged ‘derivative works’

john-madden-footballThe Madden NFL series is Electronic Arts‘ yearly “old faithful” release, a dependable franchise that each year brings out large numbers of fans looking for the latest rosters and gameplay tweaks for their virtual pigskin gaming. It is also one of the publisher’s oldest franchises, starting in 1988 with John Madden Football.

Robin Antonick, one of the top-level programmers on that game, has filed a lawsuit against EA, alleging that subsequent Madden releases incorporated design ideas from his original work, and thus he is owed almost two decades worth of unpaid royalties. A California District Court filing (via Gamasutra) states that the use of the initial game’s concepts — including 11-player sides, a 3D rendering of the playing field and instant replay features — in future releases entitles Atonick to 1.5 percent of any “derivative works,” per his 1986 contract with the company.

EA has maintained the stance that those games in the franchise that were released after John Madden Football didn’t incorporate Antonick’s design ideas. The court document alleges that he was told Park Place Productions, the follow-up game’s developer, was charged with creating more of an arcade-like experience.

Antonick argues that Park Place worked closely with Richard Hilleman, a collaborator on the original John Madden Football and EA’s current chief creative officer. His intimate knowledge of the first game’s code couldn’t help but inform the work he did subsequently with Park Place, the lawsuit contends. EA founder Trip Hawkins and EA executive Bing Gordon are also named, due to their “extensive access to and knowledge of Antonick’s code, design documents and other intellectual property,” all of which were allegedly used during the development of the follow-up release.

The lawsuit also adds additional context in calling out the video game publisher for its general business practices with regards to IP rights. “Electronic Arts’ cavalier treatment of Antonick’s intellectual property and contractual rights is symptomatic of a corporate culture that has long taken a ‘so sue me’ approach to the use of third party intellectual property that it does not own and generally devalues the importance of intellectual property,” the court document reads.

It’s a sticky situation, no question. It seems, from a legal layman’s perspective at any rate, that both sides have a case to make here. This will all ultimately come down to what actually qualifies as a “derivative work” built off of Antonick’s original ideas. There is no question that subsequent games in the series incorporated ideas like instant replay features and a 3D perspective of the playing field, so the judge will be left to decide in the end on whether or not those innovations actually belong to Antonick.

Gaming

Triple nuke strike crashes ‘Fallout 76’ server, leaves unanswered questions

The group of Fallout 76 players who summoned the Scorchbeast Queen by dropping a nuke on a fissure site took the next step, launching three nukes on a single target. They did not find out what happens next, as the game's server crashed.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

Feeling nostalgic? Here are the 25 best Sega Genesis games

Although the company has since fallen into obscurity, Sega was an indisputable titan throughout the '90s. That said, here are 25 best Sega Genesis games that helped define its fabled decade.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Gaming

Twitch viewers aren’t tuning in to watch ‘Fallout 76’ gameplay

Fallout 76 has experienced a sharp decline in viewership not just when compared to the numbers for Fallout 4, but also compared to the game's B.E.T.A. period last month. Sales also appear to be lower than they were with Fallout 4.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Deals

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…
Computing

Want to game on your Chromebook? Here's where to start

Chromebooks aren't great for gaming, but there are a few titles that most machines can run. There's a surprisingly diverse crowd that includes role-playing games, action side-scrollers, and puzzlers.
Gaming

Dominate in multiplayer with a few of our favorite 'Battlefield 5' weapons

Here are some of the best weapons you can use to get the upper hand in Battlefield 5's multiplayer, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, and anti-tank tools.
Product Review

‘Let’s Go Pikachu’ and ‘Let’s Go Eevee’ feel like true ‘Pokémon Go’ RPGs

Pokémon: Let’s Go’s simplified reimagining of Pokémon Yellow has a great balance of old and new mechanics. It has a streamlined approach that makes it easy to get into, but depth remains for longtime fans.
Deals

The best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…