Category Archives: Sports

Three Sports Games Finish in Top Ten Sales for 2014

With NPD reports in for December the entirety of 2014 can be analyzed and three sports games finished in the top ten of sales for the year. The three in question are regulars when rounding up the best-sellers annually.

Madden NFL 15 finished as the second biggest seller in 2014. Only Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was able to top it. NBA 2K15 finished the year in seventh place and FIFA 15 came through in ninth place.

It’s important to note that NPD only covers North America. NBA 2K and FIFA are far stronger properties than Madden overseas. FIFA has been the top selling game in the world for several years now, and more recently has shown impressive growth in the US. Its first appearance in the NPD top ten came in 2012. Madden finished the year strongest of the group, as it usually does, coming in third in December but NBA 2K15 still has six months ahead of it where it will continue to place among the best sellers.

NCAA Ordered to Talk Settlement in O’Bannon Case; Eventual Resolution Will Determine Future of College Sports Video Games

Last week the judge in the Ed O’Bannon class-action case vs the NCAA ordered the two sides to enter settlement talks. Naturally questions have started to come in about whether this could accelerate a return of college football (and other sports) video games.

There is no longer a video game element to the case – although Sam Keller has continued to argue that he was not a part of the earlier settlement that got Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company out of it. A conclusion to litigation that would provide an outline for players to be paid (whether from share of broadcasting rights, personal endorsements, and/or merchandising) could open the possibility of video games back up. 

It’s very unlikely that a settlement will be reached which would mean the case proceeding through the lengthy process that with appeals could be five years away from a conclusion. There is no requirement that the sides attempt to reach one in good faith – just that they attend the required mediation. Even if a the two sides came to a settlement the specific terms would be critical.

EA could manage paying collegiate athletes $50-$100 a season. That’s essentially what they did with the $40 million settlement. With NCAA Football establishing a successful Ultimate Team mode they could afford additional costs especially when being able to promote real players officially in the game would likely increase sales of the product. Going much higher than that though, or having a system where players negotiate their own appearance fees, could make it more difficult to financially justify.

Earlier/Summary Below

The player likeness lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and Electronic Arts is the culmination of two high profile filings that were combined as led by Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon (and O’Bannon now heads it up). It alleges improper use of player likeness through various forms of merchandise and media including video games in which the parties in question conspired to avoid paying players for their rights. Some interesting details and claims regarding the case at hand were revealed when EA was reentered as a defendant after initially being dismissed.

EA originally won a previous case regarding player likeness with the courts ruling video games are artistic works rather than commercial speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court in 2011 established forms of media, producing expressive works of art, are not subject to judgments based on incorporating someone’s name or likeness. That dismissed case however, involving Ryan Hart, has resurfaced after an appeals court reversed a decision based on that argument.

Recent uncovered emails have shown that NCAA representatives were well aware that players in games were based off real-life players. At one point the NCAA and EA had nearly reached an agreement to have actual player names included in the products. The EA Locker / Roster Share feature was a fallback option. With momentum clearly on the plantiffs’ side NCAA reps have begun to publicly express concern over the future of collegiate sports. A former EA Sports producer admitted players in NCAA games were based off real athletes.

The discovery of Tim Tebow’s name being in NCAA Football 10 could throw another wrench into EA’s series of arguments. Depositions from former Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro and UConn basketball guard Tate George support the defendant’s reasoning for denying class action certification. The class action hearing resulted in the judge heavily questioning the legitimacy of a potential class and insisting a current athlete be involved. The judge required current athletes be added as plaintiffs for that party to have representation if the case is certified as class action. Six current college football players were added as plaintiffs in mid-July.

EA is now arguing to be dismissed as a defendant in the suit. A major defense for the company however was recently struck down by an appeals court.

This consolidated case in California if certified as class action would go to trial – barring a settlement – and ultimately be the determining factor of how the NCAA proceeds in the future handling broadcasting rights, merchandising, and video games. Should a negative result come down, which one analyst has pegged as being a potential loss of $1 billion for EA, it would likely not just end the NCAA Football series but also with it any realistic possibility of college sports games being made in the future. The trial now is slated to begin June 9, 2014. Appeals following a decision could extend the fight through 2020.

[RESOLUTION] EA and the CLC have settled the lawsuit. EA Sports will no longer produce a college football game. Getting out of the lawsuit only cost EA and CLC $40 million.

Lack of NFL License News Raises Questions

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Almost two years have passed since the NFL extended the exclusive video game license with EA Sports. At the time the events made it obvious that the satisfied partner in the relationship was the NFL and not EA. It was evident that EA would later seek to secure much more favorable terms come negotiation time.

An extension to the exclusive license has still not been announced. In the past that news has come in February (2008 and 2011) each time two years in advance of expiration. Now though the current deal is set to expire next month and there have been no updates from either side on how things will proceed. 

EA had the leverage going into the process. The NFL has been happy with the partnership to date. The exclusive deal has brought in four times as much money each year as when multiple licensees paid in and they’ve been able to enact a level of control over the product that projects the image the league desires. The NFLPA loves the arrangement too because it brings in the most money possible. For the league to turn to a different company would mean likely no NFL game on the market for at least two years and that is an unthinkable scenario.

Unlike partnerships related to apparel, uniforms, beverage, and the like there is a turnaround time and a greater sense of uncertainty that would come with switching video game developers. Though now they are expected to extended NFL Sunday Ticket with DirecTV at one point they strongly considered going elsewhere with it when DirecTV questioned its value. That is similar to how EA Sports has felt as development costs increased coupled with shrinking sales. The common thread however with how the NFL handles its brand is exclusivity. It would go against their M.O. to open up a license to multiple parties.

That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. EA Sports has no reason to pay a premium for the exclusive when the threat of competition is thin even if other companies had the opportunity to buy in. The investment for a new company to begin from scratch would be enormous beyond whatever enter fee there would be for the license and then there would only be the potential of splitting the pie with EA who has one of the strongest brands in gaming history with Madden. Still it’s a more realistic scenario than new serious competitors entering the field in other sports.

EA Sports continues to develop Madden NFL 15 and there have been no indications that the license is in question for this year. At the very least they seem to have secured a limited extension yet there has been no official announcement of details. That they have avoided addressing the topic suggests there very well could be a change to the status quo and the news on that being held until the completion of the NFL season and the expiration of the previous deal. Neither side gains from the perception of uncertainty so if an agreement for extending the exclusive has been reached there would have been no reason to hold an announcement back.

No one should get their hopes up too high of a change to the way the NFL license is handled and who will be involved developing officially licensed games. However there is reason to believe that a change of sorts is plausible. February or early March would be the time when details will have to be shared regarding any parties attached through a deal.

EA Sports Cancels NCAA Football Series

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EA Sports has officially canceled their NCAA Football series which was going to be renamed College Football next year. The news comes on the heels of individual institutions expressing a desire to get out of the video game business by pulling their licenses. The NCAA was first to withdraw licensing, multiple conferences followed, but losing the schools was when EA began to see the writing on the wall that the series would not be sustainable. Also announced today is that EA settled in the player likeness lawsuit as well.

First Details on NBA Live 14 Career Mode

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EA Sports today announced “Rising Star” which will act as the career mode in the upcoming NBA Live 14. Rising Star will begin in the EA Sports Draft Showcase powered by Under Armour where draft potential will be determined. The mode allows for up to 25 years in the league with progression from being a bench player to an All-Star.

Features previously announced include the next-gen EA Sports Ignite engine, a new dribbling system called “bounceTEK”, the inclusion of legends, and roster updates within an hour after every game ends. NBA Live 14 will be available will the launch of the PlayStation 4 (November 15) and Xbox One (unspecified November date).

The Final Four Of The Madden NFL 25 Cover Vote, Has Begun! Cast Your Vote Now!

The cover campaign featuring both legends and current stars for Madden NFL 25 has reached the finals in the two brackets. The “Old School” and “New School” participants have been shaved down to two each with the eventual winners from each side facing off for the cover honors.

Barry Sanders goes up against Jerry Rice while Arian Foster will take on Adrian Peterson. Foster’s run is the only thing that could be considered a surprise especially having quit social media prior to the tournament. He has gone on to beat Julio Jones, Colin Kaepernick, and now Russell Wilson. There are currently one, two, three, and four seeds remaining. Peterson is likely to move on (he absolutely CRUSHED Robert Griffin III) with the Rice-Sanders pairing (both collected about equal percentage with comparable opponents) much more difficult to call.

Voting is completed through the ESPN SportsNation Page. The fifth round runs until April 17th when it will move forward to the overall finals.

Wrestlemania 29 Results: The Champ Is Here? 21-0? End Of An Era?

Pre-Show

The YouTube Preshow kicks off with Josh Matthews welcoming us to the show. The audience is MASSIVE and ready to go. Matt Striker runs down the Intercontinental Championship Match. Scott Stanford, Jim Ross, Kofi Kingston, and Dusty Rhodes are setup in a seperate arena much like NHL on FOX. A video package for the World Championship Match is shown. Stanford, Ross, Kofi, and Dusty talk about the World Title Match.

A “Coming Home” video with featuring members with the WWE Universe pictures shown over it. A hype video for HHH vs Brock Lesnar is shown. Stanford, Kofi, Ross, and Dusty talk about Lesnar and HHH’s match while the audience behind them chant, “We Want Ryder.” Tony Dawson is outside with the WWE Universe in the parking lot who are tailgating.

In the back, Snooki is chatting up with The Miz, who thanks him for calling her a MILF. Wade Barrett comes in they hype their match. Josh and Striker ask the WWE Universe to Tout their favorite Wrestlemania moment. A hype video for Ryback and Mark Henry is shown. Mark Henry is in the interview arena and talks about his match with Ryback. He states that tonight is the night that Ryback enters the Hall of Pain. Kofi, Stanford, Ross, and Dusty talks about Henry vs Ryback.

A recap of Thursday’s press conference is shown. A hype video for The Undertaker vs CM Punk is shown. Kofi, Ross, Stanford, and Dusty talk about Taker vs CM Punk. A WWEShop promo is shown. We go outside again with Tony Dawson and he presents a video of what the WWE Universe are looking forward to the most. A few Touts from WWE fans who talk about their favorite Wrestlemania moments. Another hype video, this time featuring Sheamus, Orton, Show vs The Shield is shown.

Kofi, Stanford, Dusty, and JR talk about the match. The Miz makes his entrance but sadly no inflatable Awesome this time. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett comes down to the ramp with the title around his waist.

WWE Intercontinetal Championship Match
Wade Barrett vs The Miz

The Miz and Wade lock up in the middle of the ring. Wade kicks Miz in the gut as he bounces off the turnbuckle. Barrett places the Miz over the ropes and kicks him in the stomach once again. Barrett put The Miz through the rope and tries to go for his kick but The Miz counters with a boot of his own. The Miz hits a high knee followed by his neckbreaker combo for 2. Barrett goes for Wasteland, The Miz goes for the Finale but they both Miz. As The Miz goes for his corner clothesline, Wade hits him with the Winds of Change for 2. Wade goes for the Bull Hammer but Miz counters with the Figure Four. Barrett gets to the ropes. Barrett hits Wasteland for 2. The Miz hits a drop toe hold and locks in the Figure Four once again for the win.

WINNER and NEW Intercontinental Champion: The Miz

The Miz celebrates with his title as we head back to Stanford, Ross, Kofi, and Dusty who talk about The Rock vs John Cena. A video package for the WWE Championship match is shown. The concludes the YouTube PreShow.

WWE Wrestlemania 29

A video describing the damage of Super Storm Sandy is shown, narrarated by NJ Governor Chris Christie. The video begins with a somber tone but quickly picks up with how New York and New Jersey fought back against the devastation. Christie welcomes us to Wrestlemania. Michael Cole opens up the show with the New Jersey National Guard waving American Flags at the entrance way. The opening video for Wrestlemania is shown with recaps of the greatest moments in Wrestlemania history shown.

Sheamus makes his way down to the ring and it looks like the 6-Man Tag Team Match will start the show. Randy Orton and The Big Show come out and the three of them walk down the ramp as a team. Michael Cole, JBL, and The King are the commentary team for the night and their are dressed in tuxedos. The Spanish Announce Team is introduced as well. The Shield’s music hits and they make their way to the ring through the crowd.

Randy Orton, Sheamus, and The Big Show vs The Shield

Roman and Sheamus start things off for their groups. Roman and Sheamus begin to punch each other into the various corners. Randy Orton is tagged in and they double team Roman. Orton begins to stomp on Roman. Roman knees Orton in the gut and tags in Rollins who is taken down. Orton goes for the 10 Corner punch and hits them all. Orton hits Rollins with a rope assisted suplex. Sheamus is tagged back in. Rollins tags in Dean and they stomp Sheamus into the corner. Continue reading Wrestlemania 29 Results: The Champ Is Here? 21-0? End Of An Era?

2k Announces WWE 2k14, The Rock To Be Featured On Cover

The lead-up to Wrestlemania is always the biggest time of the year in terms of consumer interest and interaction for WWE. With Wrestlemania 29 on Sunday the company even made video game news with still over seven months until the typical release time frame for the series arrives.

Executive Vice President of Consumer Products Casey Collins announced that The Rock will be featured on the cover of WWE 2K14.

Dwayne Johnson has become one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry let alone “sports entertainment”. Some might take issue with the fact that a part-time performer gets the top billing – the same grumblings have been made regarding The Rock and his current title reign – but there is no one that could offer near the exposure and awareness levels that he provides.

The WWE license is now in the hands of Take Two, with also acquired Yuke’s continuing on as the development studio at least in the short term, and falling under the 2K Sports label.

Onto The Semifinals In The Madden NFL 25 Cover Vote Competition

The cover campaign featuring both legends and current stars for Madden NFL 25 has reached the semifinals in the two brackets. The “Old School” and “New School” participants are now in the Final Four stage with the eventual winners from each side facing off for the cover honors.

Another round has passed without any big surprises and the result is some epic pairings to vote on. Colin Kaepernick is gone in what some might consider an upset due to his #1 seeding but he never had near the support of other high seeds – it was evident after the first round that he wouldn’t be a contender. The match-ups are Joe Montana vs Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice vs Deion Sanders, Arian Foster vs Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III vs Adrian Peterson.

Voting is completed through the ESPN SportsNation Page. The fourth round runs until April 10th when it will move forward to the finals for each bracket.

NCAA Player Likeness Lawsuit vs EA Sports *UPDATE*

The player likeness lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and Electronic Arts is the culmination of two high profile filings that were combined as led by Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon (and O’Bannon now heads it up). It alleges improper use of player likeness through various forms of merchandise and media including video games in which the parties in question conspired to avoid paying players for their rights. Some interesting details and claims regarding the case at hand were revealed when EA was reentered as a defendant after initially being dismissed.

EA has won a previous case regarding player likeness with the courts ruling video games are artistic works rather than commercial speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court in 2011 established forms of media, producing expressive works of art, are not subject to judgments based on incorporating someone’s name or likeness.

Recent uncovered emails have shown that NCAA representatives were well aware that players in games were based off real-life players. At one point the NCAA and EA had nearly reached an agreement to have actual player names included in the products. The EA Locker / Roster Share feature was a fallback option. With momentum clearly on the plantiffs’ side NCAA reps have begun to publicly express concern over the future of collegiate sports. Continue reading NCAA Player Likeness Lawsuit vs EA Sports *UPDATE*