Take Two/2K Sports being sued over player tattoos in NBA 2K16

Posted February 1st, 2016 at 5:15 pm

NBA 2K16 LeBron James Tattoos

Many have lamented the lack of player tattoos in certain sports video games, most prominently the Madden NFL series. EA Sports made a big deal out of Colin Kaepernick getting his tattoos in Madden NFL 15 but he was the only player in the game with them.

The publisher no longer includes potentially copyright infringing art without those who own the rights having signed off on them. There are now a few more players including cover athlete Odell Beckham Jr. with them in Madden NFL 16. Even in EA Sports UFC 2 it’s been noticed that designs have been altered on fighters such as CM Punk and removed completely from Carlos Condit to avoid potential litigation.

Tattoos have remained in other games sports game franchises though – most notably the NBA 2K series, seemingly without having been challenged. That may need to change with Take Two, owner of 2K Sports and developer Visual Concepts, now being sued over certain designs on the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Solid Oak Sketches has filed suit over the specific art on five players and are seeking over $800,000 in damages. They’ve also offered a perpetual licensing fee of $1.1 million for 2K to use the art in future games.

Take Two has not provided comment on the suit which was filed today in federal court. It’s possible the tattoos on the players could be edited in the meantime, but more likely they’ll go unchanged and end up settling the matter. Because of the lengthy process a determination may not happen until 2K16 is long gone, only affecting 2K17 and beyond.