Hall of Famers are playable in the next Madden, but the recent PlayStation 2 inclusion of legacy teams is gone — not because of legal action but in the interest of feature parity, says EA.
Last November, retired NFL players won a $28 million judgment against the NFL Players Union in a lawsuit regarding the use of their likeness in recent editions of Madden. The suit involved not just the inclusion of named players but the use of unnamed players from historic teams. Some of these unnamed Madden players sported stats and features that could make them matches for the men who had played on those teams.
The players did not sue EA, but it seemed unlikely that EA would bring back the old-teams feature to this year's Madden. And they're not.
Noting that the legacy teams had only been in recent PS2 versions of the game — not the current-gen Xbox 360 and PlayStation versions — an EA spokesperson told Kotaku via e-mail in which ways old teams and players will have presence in this August's Madden games:
"Madden NFL 10 (Xbox 360/PS3) include a Hall of Fame feature that allows you to view biographical information for most of the players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. These players can be signed to any current NFL team, thanks to a robust player management system that allows trades and free agent pick-ups."
The EA rep added that the other versions of Madden will have no old teams or players: "Current teams/rosters are playable for the PS2/PSP versions."
We asked if this feature set was implemented as a result of the players' lawsuit. We were told that "wouldn't be entirely accurate, because we haven't had legacy teams in Madden next-gen ever, and it was just a matter of getting some consistency across the entire franchise."
As described to Kotaku, EA's revised approach to old-timers certainly seems to celebrate the NFL's past without veering toward the issues raised in the lawsuit last year.
Console and handheld versions of Madden NFL 10 will ship this August.