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 2008 class-action lawsuit alleging such arrangements resulted in price-fixing.

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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.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 23, 2012 10:00 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, 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 2008 class-action lawsuit alleging such arrangements resulted in price-fixing.

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      July 23, 2012 10:20 AM

      i wonder how they're going to ask for proof of purchase.

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      July 23, 2012 10:24 AM

      what about the nfl?

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      July 23, 2012 10:36 AM

      this seems pretty inane... this is exactly what you'd expect to happen with a de facto monopoly and if the courts have an issue with it in the case of one sport then why do they only disallow it in others and not the one that actually caused the suit? what (plus despite what 2K did it seems hard to argue the exclusivity deal resulted in "price fixing" by selling at exactly the same price as it and every other game otherwise always did)

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        July 23, 2012 10:43 AM

        whats inane is that EA continues to make shitty madden games year after year.

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          July 23, 2012 11:02 AM

          they've gotten markedly better after 2009, there's only so much you'll ever get done in a 1 year dev cycle

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        July 23, 2012 2:53 PM

        They didn't. The year that 2K came out with the Madden-killing series, they charged only $30 and the general populace swooned over the game that was "Better than EA's version". EA quickly cut the rope after that and had it locked up for years deny people from making games with "NFL Likeness" on it. Complete bullshit, and I'm glad it's costing them money now.

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          July 23, 2012 3:29 PM

          right, but that was just one outlier year where 2k was trying something desperate to get their name out there. It's not like Madden was always $40-50 until they got this deal and then raised the price or whatever. Outside 2k5 there had been decades with multiple NFL titles per year and I don't recall (m)any pricing wars, they all sold for $50-60. Madden is still the same price as every other AAA release, same as always. IANAL but to me price fixing usually requires colluding with another party to charge more than you otherwise could which Madden isn't really doing in the context of the whole games market. If the argument is the NFL is basically allowing the price fixing (they're the ones who initiated the concept of the exclusivity deal) then they shouldn't have been allowed to make such a deal or it should've been revoked now.

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          July 23, 2012 6:53 PM

          IIRC the NFL didn't like what happened with 2K and that battle with EA - they'd see a $30 NFL game as devaluing their brand.

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      July 23, 2012 10:51 AM

      What percentage of the NCAA exclusivity money goes to the student athletes? Ohhhhhh.....

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        July 23, 2012 10:57 AM

        Well, technically none of those athletes are represented in the game

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          July 23, 2012 6:52 PM

          Really?! It's just the teams, with fake player names? I guess they try to use the stats, Like "Roster Player" (Michael Jordan) from NBALive....98(?)?

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            July 23, 2012 7:21 PM

            Yeah no real player names because of NCAA rules. The workaround is that you can edit rosters, so a bunch of people will edit all the teams manually, and then you can download their rosters. It's really simple and you can download the roster right through the game UI.

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            July 23, 2012 7:25 PM

            No names, just numbers. It's pretty laughable in the context of players not getting paid considering the NCAA and schools would get increasingly large amounts of money for licensing that stuff if the game gets more popular, while the students compensation remains static to a degree (however much the school charges for tuition)

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      July 23, 2012 11:50 AM

      Why aren't they forced to give up exclusive rights to NFL? I am not a madden fan and was a big fan of the 2K NFL games prior to the exclusive agreement. I could care less about the NCAA football rights.

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        July 23, 2012 2:58 PM

        Yeah, the settlement is pretty funny from that standpoint.

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          July 23, 2012 3:31 PM

          yeah it appears that the law has decided EA shouldn't have a monopoly on football games, but doesn't care if they have a monopoly on a particular brand of football game. So EA gets to keep the most lucrative exclusivity but then must give up or not go after other football brands (NCAA and AFL) so at least someone else can make licensed football of some kind. Better than nothing I guess and maybe a step in the right direction? Still really weird and a completely obvious state for the market to be in when these kinds of deals are allowed.

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        July 23, 2012 5:48 PM

        I liked the 2k games a lot better back in the day, I always thought the madden games were clunky, 2k games felt so smooth, giggity

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      July 24, 2012 7:23 AM

      NCAA 2K14 !!!! Its gonna be epic !!!