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Hawkins:  Madden  Royalty Suit Exaggerates Antonick's Role
Hawkins: Madden Royalty Suit Exaggerates Antonick's Role
April 5, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

EA founder and current Digital Chocolate CEO Trip Hawkins says a multi-million dollar lawsuit over Madden series royalties exaggerates the role of programmer and plaintiff Robin Antonick.

In an interview with the L.A. Times, Hawkins said Antonick was a work-at-home contractor on the game, and not Hawkins' office-mate as alleged in the suit. He also describes Antonick as "one of many" people involved in the game's development, and "not the person driving the game."

Hawkins further said that Antonick was left out of development on the console versions of the game because developers with "more advanced" programming skills were needed.

Hawkins is not a defendant in Antonick's suit, but he is named as one of a few EA employees that "had extensive access to and knowledge of Antonick's code, design documents and other intellectual property."

The lawsuit claims Antonick was instrumental in developing the original Apple II, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS versions of John Madden Football, and that his 1986 contract with EA promises him 1.5 percent of all profits from derivative works on new hardware.

EA has allegedly withheld those royalties for nearly two decades on the argument that the console versions of the game are derived from Park Place Software's 1990 Genesis version, and not from Antonick's work.

But Antonick says his work features such as "sophisticated models of player behavior in place of static rules-based gameplay" were incorporated into that Genesis version and the series as a whole.

EA spokeswoman Tiffany Steckler told the Times Antonick's complaint was "without merit."

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kP09 HI19
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E.A.... always trying some workaround to maximize the profits. How much does a judge cost in the USA? Maybe there's no price, maybe less than tens of millions... By the way, what will be the next E.A. workaround?

I'm wondering what's Tiffany Steckler's merit? How she got the job? How can she talk about merit? This kind of argument, or lack of it, just makes me sad, at least he created some code, what does a spokeswoman create? A spokeswoman just talks, as anyone, sometimes just BS, as in this case, great job...

What kind of thing is Hawkins smoking? If the contract says 1.5 percent, there's no place for "exaggerated roles" quotes, a deal is a deal, but I don't know if E.A. knows the meaning of the "honor" word.

Jerome Russ
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I would say the same thing, about Antonick. If this was a contract issue, and he truly believed he was entitled to royalties of all Madden works, wouldn't the first year he didn't receive a payment be the one which sets off a lawsuit? I find it hard to believe that he just now stumbled across that little bit of detail.

Jacob Barlaam
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This is the same as those sexual harassment lawsuits that happen 10 years after the fact. The claim loses merit if you wait this long, if it bothered you at the time, sue then. Now it seems like you are making some crazy claim and makes people doubt the validity of the story.

Scott Jordan
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So what if Trip dodged his taxes 20 years ago. The feds should let it go right?

Bryan Wagstaff
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Reading the actual lawsuit, it addresses these points.

He is now claiming (20 years after he signed an agreement surrendering rights) that recent EA press releases imply that the game was still using his code. He is claiming that the earlier agreement was fraudulent, but it wasn't exposed until those press releases. He claims that limitations were tolled because it was supposed to be a quarterly royalty payment, and because EA started negotiating with him recently that it reactivated the claim. If he can convince a judge that there may have been fraud, then he may have a case for some of his claims.

Of course, the fact that he is trying to get not just the 1% from his contribution in his contract, but "all profits earned by Defendant from the sale of the Madden videogame franchise, NCAA Football videogame franchise and any other videogame franchise utilizing the intellectual property of Plaintiff" makes him look like a money grab.

Wikipedia says Madden earned over $3B since it started in 1988, so maybe $1B was profit. The NCAA game franchise started in 1993, so another 18 years of a profitable franchise. He's trolling for a LOT of money.

Joe McGinn
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Based on the asinine level of the AI in the iPhone version of Madden, I could easily believe there's some crusty old 6502 assembler code at the heart of the AI system. ;-)

More seriously, I'd heard from credible source that as recently as a few years ago there was in fact some very strange disassembler code in the game, and when my friend asked was told "it's been there since at least SNES, maybe longer".