Madden NFL price-fixing settlement blocks EA NCAA exclusivity

EA is set to pay out $27 million and swear not to renew its exclusivity agreement with the NCAA, as part of the settlement for a class-action lawsuit. The 2008 suit alleged that after EA killed the budget-priced NFL 2K series by nabbing exclusive rights to the NFL, it was free to hike the prices of its own Madden games.

The proposed settlement, which the judge has yet to approve, will see EA paying out to people who've bought its Madden NFL, NCAA Football or AFL games since 2005. You'll could get up to $6.79 if you bought one for the GameCube, PlayStation 2 or original Xbox, and up to $1.95 if you bought foot-foots for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii.

As well as requiring EA not to renew its exclusive National Collegiate Athletic Association football license for at least five years after it expires in 2014, it has to swear off grabbing exclusive rights to the Arena Football League for five years. EA hasn't even made an AFL game since 2007, mind.

However, the proposed settlement will not affect EA's exclusive licensing of the NFL--which was somewhat the point of the whole thing in the first place.

The lawsuit's logic is that competition from NFL 2K had caused EA to drop prices of Madden NFL games, but after it grabbed the exclusive rights it happily raised the prices back up. So while EA can still charge whatever it fancies for NFL games, theoretically another publisher could swoop in and start making NCAA games to spark a price war.