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Madden co-creator sues EA for billions

Claims unpaid royalty earnings, fraud.

The man who co-created the very first game in EA's hugely successful Madden NFL Football franchise is suing the publisher for millions - possibly billions - of dollars in unpaid royalties.

According to a Reuters report, Robin Antonick alleges that he signed a contract with EA in 1986 that entitled him to royalties on all derivative versions of the Madden game he was then developing for the Commodore 64, MS Dos and Apple II.

Despite more recent iterations of the franchise being considerably more sophisticated than his original creation, he insists that it's still based on the core foundations he laid down. Therefore, he argues, he deserves royalties.

"Only recently, as a result of publicity surrounding the 20th Anniversary of the 'Madden' videogame did Antonick become aware that Electronic Arts did not independently develop subsequent versions of its Madden NFL software," says the complaint.

"Instead, according to recent statements by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the current generation of software apparently derived from software developed by Antonick."

Antonick claims he hasn't received a royalty cheque since 1992 and is claiming a share of the profits in all releases since then – a figure that could total in the tens of millions.

On top of that, he also wants disgorgement of all profits from the sale of the game as the result of EA's allegedly fraudulent behavior. Seeing as the series has earned the publisher more than $4 billion over the years, that could constitute quite a pay-out.

Should he be successful, his old pal Trip Hawkins might well be giving him a call. Earlier this week, it came to light that the EA founder currently owes the tax man around $20 million.

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Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.