Video-game maker Take-Two Interactive ( TTWO) paid former football star O.J. Simpson $50,000 for the right to use his likeness in the company's controversial game All-Pro Football 2K8. Simpson was paid $25,000 within 30 days of the contract being signed last January, with the rest scheduled to be paid within a month of the release of the game, according to a contract obtained by TheStreet.com between Take-Two and Justin Communications, which represented Simpson in the deal. All-Pro Football 2K8 was released in July. The signed contract also stated that if the deal between Take-Two and Simpson was renewed for an additional two years, Simpson would receive $50,000 in full upon renewal. However, Simpson likely didn't have much of a chance to enjoy his payday. Last month, a Los Angeles court
ordered Simpson to turn over any royalties and licensing fees earned from the use of his likeness in the game to the estate of murder victim Ron Goldman. The court also ordered Simpson to turn over copies of the Take-Two contract and related financial documents. Simpson was accused in 1994 of the murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Goldman. Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1995, but two years later, a civil jury found him liable for the wrongful death of Goldman. The Goldman family won a $33.5 million judgment against Simpson from the civil suit.
Earlier this year, the Goldmans' family lawyer sued Simpson after a TheStreet.com report
disclosed that Take-Two's game allowed users the opportunity to put Simpson's character on a team called "The Assassins." If gamers chose that scenario, and if Simpson scored a touchdown in the game, a clearly visible hooded mascot above the scoreboard appeared to make stabbing motions with a large knife. All-Pro Football 2K8 features 240 football legends, including players such as Joe Montana and Walter Payton. The contract between Take-Two and Simpson also revealed that Take-Two grouped the retired players into categories, with each member of a category being paid the same amount. Despite Simpson's inclusion and the controversy around the game, All-Pro Football is facing lackluster sales, with Take-Two acknowledging that it's not "terribly pleased" with the title's performance. All-Pro Football 2K8 released weeks before Madden NFL 08, the blockbuster from rival Electronic Arts ( ERTS), a move that further took a bite out of the game's sales. About 320,000 copies of All-Pro Football for both Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony's ( SNE) PlayStation 3 console are likely to be sold, estimates The simExchange, an online video games prediction market. Compare that with more than 5 million copies of Madden NFL 07 sold at the end of 2006. The game's disappointing performance could lead Take-Two to scrap the idea of another release in the series, but the game company seems determined to gain a foothold in the sports business. In its quarterly earnings report on Monday, Take-Two said it believes it is on track for its sports division, 2K Sports, to be profitable next year. Shares of Take-Two were down 8 cents, or 0.4%, to $16.49 in recent trading.