We thought that this story was done involving the gaming industry, but documents were unsealed yesterday in the famed O'Bannon v NCAA class-action lawsuit trial. The documents are a lot to go through, but there are some gems of information that should be shared that specifically show EA Sports tossed around some ideas that would have been worse than what had already been done regarding player likenesses.
We know that the worst-kept secret in the world was that EA Sports and the NCAA were well aware of actual weights, heights, looks, and appearances of players because they freely admitted it under Oath. The major piece of information that came out in these documents, however, is that both entities toyed around with the idea of just inserting the rosters anyways.
Taken from the documents:
Reasons: 1) EA would put into each game all players on the entire roster and they include over 140 Div. I schools in their games; 2) Rosters are embedded within the product/game (hidden, in a way) not on the cover/outside when you buy the product; and 3) this would wipe out 3rd party infringers — better to have schools/conferences and the NCAA control this.
So, going back as far as to NCAA Football 2002, which was the first title on the Playstation 2, it was entirely possible that one change of decision making could have resulted in having the full roster, exactly as they would have appeared in programs at stadiums, being included in the games, which is a gigantic violation of NCAA by-laws, though now we're realizing that those by-laws only seem to matter to the NCAA when they aren't a part of it and, yes, that is a completely fair assessment, judging on these documents.
Eventually, however, the two entities opted not to put the rosters in and, thus, made the franchise with positions and numbers, but allowed people to edit the rosters as they saw fit. Likenesses were already well in place and all that truly needed to be done was change the name. No question about it.