EA Sports is facing a potential billion-dollar (read: 25% of its annual revenue) lawsuit, CNBC reports. The class action suit, filed against the game manufacturer and the NCAA, regards whether or not the company illegally used the likeness of some college athletes. Despite the severity of potentially losing $1 billion, EA downplayed the suit, stating, “We could lose billions more if a giant meteor hits the earth. We’re not planning for either outcome.” The potential financial penalties were estimated by CNBC and have not as yet been publicly disclosed.
This is an interesting lawsuit. NCAA players are not allowed any financial compensation of any kind. Because of this, renderings of players in the NCAA series are unnamed and rarely have any distinguishing features. Beyond the handful of talent destined for the NFL, the identities of the majority of NCAA players have no bearing on the game or its marketability.
Yet the frivolity of the lawsuit could easily have an analogue in the presumptuousness of EA if the company has created certain virtual players to nearly mirror their real-world counterparts. While Unwinnable is not taking sides, it is not out of the realm of possibility that EA took certain liberties to amplify the verisimilitude of its product. That being said, the alleged unlawful rendering of players would still have no considerable economic bearing on the game or the player. America loves college ball, and that’s what they paid for. Not the defensive end on Ball State or the George Mason power forward.
Meteor or not, EA needs to be careful. Don’t be surprised if this is settled out of court.
Peter is suing Columbia University for unlawfully making him the face of its football program. Follow the legal drama as it unfolds on Twitter @peterlangcrime