Madden is the definitive football simulation and has made tons of cash since its introduction way back in 1988. Now the guy who created the first versions of the game wants his piece of that multi-billion dollar pie. Robin Antonick is asking for a jury trial in California for a lawsuit he has filed against EA saying that he has been cut of out the Madden franchise riches. According to his claim he is the one who created the most successful sports video game ever and he wants his money.
The first versions of the game were created for the Commodore 64, MS Dos, and Apple II platforms and released in 1988. He says he developed the game both with programming expertise and knowledge of former Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden’s behavior in calling plays in certain game situations. Antonick signed a development contract with EA back then that allegedly entitles Antonick to royalties on derivative versions of the “Madden” game. Apparently he worked on the game for several years after that but it doesn’t say how long. At this point most of you are asking why is he just coming forward now?
While Antonick concedes the game has become much more sophisticated than his original version he contends that it is still based on his game. The straw that seemingly broke the camel’s back was when Antonick found out that EA did not independently develop subsequent versions of the Madden’s software (i.e. they didn’t develop completely new code). According to the compliant EA simply built on Antonick’s existing code. Honestly, I could believe that EA just built on his code rather than rewrite it from scratch because it’s faster, the part I have trouble believing is that they gave him a contract that would entitle him to royalties. Madden wasn’t a huge game at first and I don’t know why EA would do that, they could have gotten anybody to write that code. Another issue here is that most companies have caveats in their contracts that explicitly state that any intellectual property developed while the employee is working for them is the sole property of the employer. We will have to wait to see the details to determine if he can produce this original agreement. As for determining whether his original code was used in derivative versions of Madden that is actually pretty easy to figure out, in fact there are probably pieces still in Madden’s code today.
In the suit Antonick is seeking tens of millions of dollars in what he says are owed royalties, plus disgorgement of all profits from the sale of the game as the result of allegedly fraudulent behavior. To date the Madden franchise has generated over $4 billion dollars in profits in its lifetime.
In any case I guess we will have to see how this plays out. In the end I think they will eventually come to an agreement that is for much less than he is asking for in this suit. EA has lots of money and lots of lawyers and they can afford to drag this thing out much longer than he can. The truth of the matter is that he’s going to have a hard time explaining why after almost 10 years since receiving his last royalty payment he has decided to file suit. What do you think, does this guy have a legitimate beef with EA or did he just miss his window and now he is angry?