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Innovation & Design

Suit Filed over Madden Feature

According to a Reuters report, Virtual Jam owner Pernell Harris, met with EA in late 2003 to discuss a football game concept he was working on called "Heart of a Champion", where players guide an athlete from high school to the pros.

According to Harris, Madden NFL 2006 includes elements of his concept and as a result he believes Electronic Arts breached an "implied in fact contract" as well as violating a confidentiality agreement.

An EA spokesperson told Reuters "We have read the complaint and the allegations are completely without merit."

Presumably what Harris has a problem with has to do with the game's 'Superstar' mode. According to EA's web site: "For the first time in a Madden NFL game, this year you'll have the chance to narrow your focus from a player to an individual. Create your own custom player or import him from NCAA Football 06 or NFL Street, and take him from struggling rookie to Hall-of-Fame talent through the course of his career as you improve his skills on the field and blow up his rep outside the lines."

While this may be new for football, the first time story and character development of this nature was done in a sports game was in Midway's NBA Ballers, which released in April 2004 (probably some six months after Harris met with EA). Ballers included these concepts from day one and seeing as this project was in the works for about three years (with paper trails and editorial coverage to substantiate it), perhaps Midway should be looking in Harris's direction for a potential suit if suing companies for game concepts holds weight in these matters.

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