A class action lawsuit of more than 6,000 former NFL players has been filed against EA Sports, as the athletes claim that the video game company used their likenesses to profit without offering any financial compensation. The Madden franchise has evolved considerably over the years, with one of the favorite special user options is the ability to play with classic franchises and their Hall of Fame star players. In fact, playing for a Super Bowl with the 1991 Buffalo Bills is the only thing that keeps Jim Kelly from murdering Scott Norwood.
EA has seemingly protected themselves from such a claim, though, as no names are actually used and the numbers are scrambled. Despite the lack of these identifying factors, the players contend that it’s a situation of EA intending for users to recognize the players. Fortunately, no Tampa Bay Buccaneer legends have to worry about having their likenesses usurped because no Tampa Bay Buccaneer legends exist.
Hold this whole court in contempt, IGN:
Plaintiff and former NFL running back Tony Davis contends EA misappropriated the retired players by using their exact player stats and positions from when they were active in the league, including height and weight, but would remove their names and change their uniform numbers.
“The only significant detail that EA changes from the real-life retired NFL players is their jersey number,” the suit says. “Despite EA’s ‘scrambling’ of the retired NFL players’ numbers, the games are designed so that consumers of the Madden NFL video game franchise will have no difficulty identifying who the ‘historic’ players are.”
The Madden games feature an option to go in and edit player names, so essentially I could play with the 1985 Miami Dolphins and change every player to #4 Reggie Roby, once again keeping Dan Marino from winning a Super Bowl. EA Sports has refused to comment on the situation, citing a strict silence in dealing with pending litigation, and the majority of former players have remained silent as well.
However, Brett Favre said that he’s looking forward to spending many years with the players in their class action suit and then leaving them to sign with EA’s defense.