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Antonick VS EA Outcome: Justified or Greedy?

After losing the rights to NCAA and a lawsuit to former college football player Sam Keller, EA takes another legal and financial loss with the ruling of the Antonick v. EA case.  Robin Antonick, programmer of the original Madden for MS-DOS, Commodore, and Apple II, signed a contract with EA stating he would be paid royalties for any game derivative of the original Madden.  According to Antonick, EA broke contract and refused to pay royalties for games release between 1990 and 1996.

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On July 23, the court ruled in favor of Antonick and awarded him with over $11 million.  The jury concluded the games from 1990-1996 used the same plays and formations found in the game Antonick programmed.  He plans to appeal to the previous ruling in which Super Nintendo games were excluded and plans to make a case against EA for Madden titles from 1997 to present.

If one were to ask a gamer on their opinion of EA, there is a strong possibility it wouldn’t be positive.  EA is know for bad business practices and questionable decisions in games such as online passes and microtransactions.  The news of EA’s loss to Antonick shows how the multi-billion dollar publisher is far from invincible and can be called out on their misdeeds. 

The most fascinating and impressive detail in the case is the fact that Antonick won because the games used the same plays and formations.  For anyone who played football in school or religiously watches the sport knows these plays and formations are not owned by anybody and not exclusively used in the NFL, but in college, high school, and even youth football.  In other words Antonick did not create the plays and formation, he programmed them into the game.

EA designed a contract to pay royalties to Antonick for his work and broke the rules of the contract.  His actions toward EA’s breach of contract are justified and he will now receive $11 million in damages, but apparently $11 million is not enough. The ex-programmer started an appeal and another case regarding all Madden games from 1997 to today.  

The Antonick v. EA case showed there are chinks in the publishers armor.  However, it would be more of a win for the gamers if Antonick wasn’t aiming to get more money out of the company. Either way, it is possible both parties are in the wrong one way or another.