Gamers Sue EA for 'Anticompetitive Conduct'

By Chris Faylor, Jun 12, 2008 8:34am PDT Two gamers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Madden publisher Electronic Arts. Filed in the US District Court of Northern California, the suit states that EA's 2004 and 2005 obtainment of the exclusive NFL, AFL and NCAA licenses constitutes "blatantly anticompetitive conduct."

In response to the allegations, the duo wish to see EA surrender the profits that stemmed from those actions, the voiding of the exclusivity contracts, and restitutions offered to those that have purchased any EA-branded football game since 2005.

EA's exclusivity arrangements came after publisher 2K Sports debuted a competing football title, NFL 2K5, at $19.99 in 2004, causing EA to drop the price on Madden 2005 from $49.99 to $29.99.

"This vigorous competition benefited consumers," claim court documents obtained by GameSpot. "Electronic Arts could have continued to compete by offering a lower price and/or a higher quality product. Instead, Electronic Arts quickly entered into a series of exclusive agreements with the only viable sports football associations."

Only one 2K Sports-branded football title has been released since then, the league-less All-Pro Football 2K8, which sold just over a quarter of a million units.

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  • As someone who enjoys playing sports games, I look on this as such a depressing issue.

    I'd wager that if the NFL stopped the exclusivity contract they might stand to make more money by licensing league/team/player likenesses to multiple devs (obviously, I don't have facts on that).

    Unfortunately, they're either too stupid to realize that Madden isn't getting any better, or they do know, but it sells so well that it doesn't matter to them.

    EA profits a great deal from this, as being the only game in town they don't need to do significant yearly updates with the exception of roster details.

    It's not illegal, nor should it be, but you'd hope that NFL licensing would pull its collective head out of its ass and realize there's a lot more money to be made if there are more football games being made. I'm not sure how the licenses are structured but I would imagine that there is some initial flat fee paid to the league, and then some per units sold royalty on top of that. I'm not sure it would result in better games, but if you really think that anyone in this arrangement cares about that you're out of your mind. The issue is moneyhats.

    If the licenses *aren't* structured in this fashion then this entire arrangement is even more depressing.

    Uuuugh. :(