EA offers $500 to college football players for name and likeness

Gentlemen, listen up! Electronic Arts (EA) are offering college football players $500 to feature their name and likeness in the forthcoming video game, EA Sports College Football. This is significant news, as it is the first time in 11 years that EA will be releasing a college football game.

However, this announcement has provoked a legal complaint from The Brandr Group, stating that EA has violated its right of publicity and committed acts of unfair and fraudulent business. Specifically, EA has interfered with the agency’s agreements with 65 partner schools and 3,725 college football players.

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EA is accused of unlawfully negotiating directly with players and schools. This could put a spanner in the works for EA, as The Brandr Group has demanded a jury trial and sought an injunction against EA.

Brandr, however, is not backing down. According to the complaint, they are seeking to recoup lost royalties that they would have obtained from group licensing negotiations and have also requested EA to pay punitive damages. EA will not be taking this lying down and has moved the case from a California superior court to a federal district court in San Francisco.


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The stakes are high and unless the two parties can come to an agreement, the case could set an important precedent in how licensing contracts are interpreted.

EA is standing firm in its approach, as they have the right to set terms for player inclusion in their game. They have opted for a “take it or leave it approach”, where players can either accept the $500 and agree to the use of their name and likeness or decline, in which case EA will use a faceless avatar that isn’t identifiable.

For star players, who are arguably more marketable and recognizable than their teammates, the $500 fee may seem too low. However, EA has employed OneTeam Partners to facilitate the process, who deal with group licensing agreements.

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The College Football Players’ Association, an advocacy group for college players, has urged football players to reject the offer of $500. They argue that it’s far too low, citing a 2014 example when Ed O’Bannon and EA agreed to a settlement for players that appeared in college basketball video games. On average, these players were paid approximately $1,200, which is 140% higher than the current proposal. The debate over whether the fee is fair to all parties involved is likely to continue.

At this stage, it’s unclear how the presiding judge will rule on this case. Whether the definition of “group licensing” that is used by EA and Brandr will be integral to the final decision is yet to be seen. Needless to say, EA will be hoping that they can proceed with their plans to release EA Sports College Football next year without any further delays.

This dispute is a fascinating insight into how video game developers are seeking to compensate college athletes for their participation in sports games. After all, it’s undeniable that the players’ names and likenesses add value to these games. Nevertheless, there is a debate to be had on what’s fair compensation for these athletes.

The college sports arena has undergone significant change in recent years. With the ability for athletes to now monetize their NLI (name, likeness and image), this has transformed the landscape. Gone are the days where athletes had to be content with simply representing their college for free. Now, the best players can make significant sums of money from endorsement deals and other revenue streams.

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The reintroduction of EA Sports College Football promises to be a welcome return for fans of the franchise. It’s also a sign that game developers are looking to integrate new technology and realism to provide a better gaming experience. Fans can take their pick from a number of college teams, select their star player, and take on their opponents in some exciting virtual matches.

With the likes of Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Alabama WR DeVonta Smith fronting the cover of EA’s Madden 22, it’s clear that there is significant value in players’ likenesses. EA has leaned heavily into this, knowing that fans want to be able to play as their favorite college team and their star players. In short, it’s a win-win situation all-round.

It’s important to acknowledge that EA does have the right to set the terms for player inclusion, as they are the ones investing significant sums of money in developing these games. However, with the rise of social media and the increased potential for athletes to monetize their NLI, there is an argument that universities and gaming companies should look to provide more equitable compensation.

This case is also a reminder of the complexities associated with group licensing agreements. Companies like OneTeam Partners are responsible for negotiating agreements that will work for all parties involved. With the EA-Brandr case, it seems that this process has broken down, and the parties involved are at odds with one another.

There is a lot at stake here for both EA and Brandr. Not only is there the question of lost earnings, but there is also the potential for long-term damage to the reputations of the companies involved. They will need to work together to find a solution that works best for all parties involved – the players, the schools, and the game developers and publishers.

While the legal jargon of this case may look intimidating, at its heart, this case is about providing fair compensation to college athletes to use their name and likeness. Whether $500 is enough to compensate these athletes is a matter for debate. However, the fact that this case is being fought in a federal court underscores the importance of the issue at hand. These athletes deserve to be compensated for their contributions to college sports.

EA Sports College Football is heralding a new era of college sports games. As fans eagerly await its release, they’ll be hoping that EA and Brandr can come to a solution that will make it possible for the game to go ahead as planned. In the meantime, there will be many discussions and negotiations ahead.

It’s too early to predict what the outcome of this case will be. However, one thing is for sure – the issue of group licensing agreements will be closely scrutinized. Companies will need to work together to provide fair compensation to athletes while ensuring that their own interests are protected.

Despite the controversies and legal issues, there’s no denying the excitement that comes with the possibility of playing as your favorite college team and your favorite players. The nostalgia that comes with college sports games has always been a huge draw for fans. The reintroduction of EA Sports College Football will no doubt be a huge hit with the gaming community.


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