Madden Football games’ creator disputes lawsuit against Electronic Arts
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Trip Hawkins, the man credited with creating Electronic Arts’ hit Madden Football series, disputed key details in a lawsuit filed last week by a computer programmer.
The programmer, Robin Antonick, claimed he was owed ‘billions’ in royalties for his work on the first few iterations of the Madden Football game published by Electronic Arts. The franchise, first released in 1988, has since gone on to sell millions of copies and ring up billions of dollars in retail sales.
But Hawkins, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit and has since left EA, gave an account vastly different from Antonick’s.
Among the key differences is that Antonick said he sat next to Hawkins to develop the game. In an interview with The Times, Hawkins said Antonick worked as a contractor from his home in Chicago.
Hawkins also said that Antonick was ‘one of many’ people who worked on the first game but that Antonick was ‘not the person driving the game.’
According to numerous press accounts, Hawkins came up with the idea and spent four years developing the football title, which came to be known within EA as ‘Trip’s Folly’ because it took so long to build. Amid development, Hawkins said, he personally recruited the former coach and football announcer John Madden to lend his name and expertise to the game, an account that Madden has verified in previous stories about the franchise.
Hawkins said Antonick, who worked on the 8-bit version of the game, was not recommissioned to help program subsequent 16-bit versions because the company needed developers with ‘more advanced’ programming chops.
The lawsuit, filed March 30 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, claims that all the Madden games were ‘derived from software developed by Antonick.’ It also cites ‘confidential settle communications’ that Antonick’s attorneys used to get the Redwood City, Calif., game publisher to come to the table, apparently without success.
EA spokeswoman Tiffany Steckler said Antonick’s complaint was ‘without merit’ and that the company ‘never offered to pay Antonick a penny’ when approached by Antonick’s lawyers.
-- Alex Pham