Documents: EA Sports designed games to replicate existing NCAA athletes
By Zac Ellis
A former EA Sports producer says the company's college sports video games were designed to replicate existing athletes without using their names, according to testimony obtained by AL.com.
Jeremy Strauser, an employee of EA Sports from 1995-2011, testified that video game players were created to correlate with existing players numbers and biographical information. Strauser's testimony took place last December but was filed by EA Sports last week.
EA Sports, the NCAA and the College Licensing Company are the defendants in a high-profile case brought forth by former student-athletes and headed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon. The suit alleges the three defendants violated antitrust laws surrounding student-athletes' names, likenesses and images in the companies' products.
According to the testimony, EA Sports was aware of the similarities between athletes and their video game counterparts:
"We generally tried to make the players perform as their real life counterparts, short of their name and likeness," Strauser testified.
In a separate deposition, EA executive vice president of business and legal affairs Joel Linzner said the purpose of the company's product is to "evoke or create the impression that these are the real life counterparts, and the heights and weights are sometimes accurate and sometimes not."
Though Linzer expressed confusion over the NCAA's policies regarding video games, Strauser said in his deposition that the NCAA's player eligibility rules prohibited the use of actual names. The plaintiffs continue to seek class-action status, which could open up the lawsuit to more athletes and threaten the current NCAA model by exposing the defendants to billions of dollars in potential damages.