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The Brandr Group suing EA Sports over college football video game

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos06/20/23


EA Sports continues to receive backlash over its forthcoming college football video game.

Less than two weeks after the College Football Players Association called for a boycott of the video game, The Brandr Group (TBG) has filed a lawsuit against EA Sports in the Northern District of California for tortious interference. Front Office Sports was the first to report the news, but On3 has obtained a copy of the lawsuit.

The brand management, marketing and licensing agency allows for the collective use of student-athletes’ NIL in licensing and marketing programs, co-branded with the institution’s logos and marks. TBG facilitates group licensing opportunities on behalf of the student-athletes and represents more than 54 Division I institutions. Athletes have the option to enter into the group licensing deal, according to TBG.

Despite being in the running to win the contract with EA Sports, the video gaming brand contracted OneTeam Partners to facilitate college athletes’ likeness. A source told On3 the cash pool for athletes was in the $5 million neighborhood, which would pay out to $500 per player.

Now the agency is arguing EA is “causing irreparable harm” to TBG and the athletes it represents. The proposed compensation is “far below market value.”

“Unfortunately, EA Sports is trying to avoid paying collegiate football players a fair price for their participation in the Game, continuing the pre-O’Bannon pattern of large corporations taking advantage of young student-athletes and capitalizing on their NIL,” the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, the total compensation school for institutions could be 10% of the game’s revenue. The filing also states that guaranteed payments range from $10,400 to $104,900, depending on a program’s prominence.

The lawsuit was originally filed in San Mateo County Court, where EA is headquartered.

“As we have previously stated, our primary concern is advocating for student-athletes, ensuring they have a voice and are justly represented in all matters pertaining to the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL),” The Brandr Group told On3 in a statement. “We believe that student-athletes are not receiving fair market value for their NIL rights and that the contractual rights asked for may limit other NIL gaming opportunities. We have no further comment at this time.”

Before July 2021, college athletes were prohibited from profiting from their name, image and likeness. The origin of NIL traces back to the late 2000s when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and 19 others sued the NCAA, arguing the organization violated United States antitrust laws by not allowing athletes to make a share of the revenues generated from the use of their in broadcasts and video games.

This will be the first EA Sports college football game since 2013. It will also be the first video game that FBS athletes have been given the opportunity to benefit from their NIL. Sportico has also reported there are no royalties.

The last time the EA Sports video game hit the shelves in 2013, roughly 1.5 million copies were sold. Since then, the gaming industry has seen significant growth and interest. Esports leagues have been started. Twitch has become an extremely popular live streaming service thanks to video games, too.

This is a breaking news story and will continue to be updated by On3.