EA agrees to give up NCAA Football exclusivity

Proposed settlement to antitrust suit over pigskin monopoly would see publisher give up its grip on the college football license for at least five years, starting in 2014.

The days of Electronic Arts' long-held football exclusivity could be numbered. According to attorneys representing consumers in a class-action antitrust lawsuit over EA's exclusive hold of multiple football league licenses, the publisher has agreed to a proposed settlement that would commit it to going at least five years without NCAA Football exclusivity, as well as paying out a potential $27 million to wronged customers.

EA might not be the only game in town much longer.

Under the terms of the settlement, EA will let its current agreement with the NCAA lapse in 2014 and will not renew it for at least five years. It also stipulates that the publisher won't sign an exclusive deal with the Arena Football League for at least five years.

As for the payouts, consumers who purchased an EA football title for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, or Xbox could be entitled to up to $6.79 per game, while those who purchased a current-generation football game from the publisher could get up to $1.95 per game.

The proposed settlement was filed with the court last week, but must be approved before it can be made final.

Originally filed in 2008, the class-action suit focused on EA's actions since 2004, when Take-Two Interactive's NFL 2K5 was released at a $20 price point and sold more than 2.9 million copies in the US. Take-Two's previous football game, ESPN NFL Football, sold fewer than 450,000 copies in the US. In response to the aggressive pricing of its competitor, EA dropped the price of Madden 2005 from $50 to $30.

Shortly afterward, EA signed exclusive deals with the NFL, NCAA, and AFL. With no competitor from Take-Two the following year, EA released Madden 2006 at a $50 price point.

[UPDATE]: An EA representative confirmed the settlement for GameSpot, saying, "We made a business decision to settle this lawsuit and put the matter behind us. We look forward to continuing our partnerships with the NFL and NCAA."

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4 comments
Rar05
Rar05

well maybe we'll finally have a good football game in a few years or so

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

Oh and I would kill to have EA produce a MLB title, because well 2K can't make a solid baseball game for their lives. So when it comes to baseball, I wish i had a PS3 for The Show.

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

2K used to be the power house in sports game, but now all 2K has over EA is their NBA series.

blackothh
blackothh

i have not played a football game besides bloodbowl, but i feel that it should take no overhead to rehash the same game every year

Glupie
Glupie

Bleh sports game.

 

Rather play racing. No IP twistings there.

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

i may agree 2k and EA need to get along in sports!

jeremyc99999
jeremyc99999

I'm ready to pre-order NCAA2K15 right now.

videlsports
videlsports

This is good to hear, I hope 2k gets word of this and starts development now  so they can make college football and basketball

Blue-Sky
Blue-Sky

I totally understand NFL wanting an exclusive franchise. It allows better marketing and allocation of resources.

 

It just that, they chose the wrong company to give the exclusive license to.

csward
csward

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! The gaming gods are smiling down upon us gamers today.

 

This might be the best news for the industry in years! I am so excited for 2014 I can hardly stand it! :)

 

Now the NFL license is the last remaining obstacle. To whomever filed this lawsuit and spent 4 years of their lives fighting EA, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. 

eitremn
eitremn

I've been a long advocator of EA, but this should have been the NFL as well.  There is no reason for them to have exclusive rights to anything.

warrner11
warrner11

id like for 2k games to make us a NCAA, but for proper development time, they would have to skip a NCAA 14 title.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Now we can go back to arguing about which NCAA game is better.... Sad state when you're actually looking forward to an argument.

samantha_sneez
samantha_sneez

Ugh, so EA does have the rights? I'm glad I don't play sports games.

Ghosthunter54
Ghosthunter54

'Course the lawyers for the class action took all the money, but at least we might get a football game that isn't a complete recycle of the year before soon.  EA sports will probably get put out of business. They probably forgot how to compete since they made it illegal to compete with them 7 years ago. Hope they do collapse in football. Get us someone who cares about the product they put out. 

pughman45
pughman45

well maybe this want be a bad decision after all its good to see a change if it works out right

tightwad34
tightwad34

That's not the guy who gives the Duck a ride on the Harley before their home games. I actually went to school with his daughter.

DrunkinPeasant
DrunkinPeasant

Competition is always good for the consumer. Hopefully this will give EA a reason to do some new things with the NCAA games, even though they are not bad, but definitely if the competition changes, so should they...interested to see how this plays out

stziggy
stziggy

I'm confused.  What did EA do that was illegal?  Immoral, I get, but not illegal.

 

I dealt with this matter the old fashioned way, I refuse to buy Madden or NCAA.

 

On a separate note, will EA be releasing a patch for the all the older NCAA games so that no matter how well you play as Penn State, you still lose the game?

huerito323
huerito323

2K sports can't give us an NFL game, but now they can gives us an NCAA game. Please do it 2K! MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

popeyfolger
popeyfolger

wow finally maybe well c something new in football games again not much will change though until the nfl follows suit and im not so sure that is going to happen

supermaddog
supermaddog

While this might be good for NCAA Football this has no effect on the NFL license.  If anyone remembers it was the NFL that wanted exclusivity. And while EAs NFL license expires next year, its still looking pretty grim for anyone who is hoping for the glory days when there were 4 or 5 titles to choose from.  It doesn't appear that the NFL is interested in allowing more than one publisher using their license.

 

This is good news though...competition is always good for the consumer.  And i guess this a step in the right direction

TheKeef
TheKeef

Yeah the stagnation factor in EA's NCAA Franchise is a huge minus for me. Basically the same game from the PS2/XBox days.

 

Never see a good football title on the PC,either, and I'm old enough to remember some of the best sports games being on PC. Maybe this will change that culture/idea/crap.

aug_ga_man5
aug_ga_man5

My god, this day has finally come. Let us all rejoice ! EA has sucked the life out of genre. Now hopefully other companies can pump some life back into it.

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

Good, now get some more competition in there so we can actually get some decent football games.

MADDENFOREVER
MADDENFOREVER

good who cares about NCAA. just more money to use to buy the NFL license. GO MADDEN!!!!!!!!!

JJMikhail
JJMikhail

I don't think EA realise how good competition was for them.  When Pro Evolution Soccer took over they finalise took their thumb out of their backside and started to do something, in the end they have produced consecutive successes with FIFA 10, 11 and 12 leaving Konami to rethink.  At least Konami are keeping in touch and not giving up, it's what a 'free market' should be all about.

 

I liked it when I was playing Pro Evo for many years and then switched over, I won't rule out switching back in the future.

 

One thing that's obvious is NFL, I got carried away with Madden because there was no competition, 2k games gave me a very good tennis game, nicely done NHL game but what's missing?  NFL 2k5 was the marker, I fear despite the graphics, gameplay, sound etc has moved on from there that Madden series would be ranked outside the top ten way behind the FIFA series.

 

If Madden 13 isn't anything special - following 8 years since NFL 2k5 for EA not to have mastered American Football is one of the biggest trategies in gaming history.

 

LtReviews
LtReviews

Finally, we may now get GOOD football games now that they have to compete with each other.

 

NCAA, Madden, and MLB have been crap forever, but the only thing to buy.

 

EA got the rights to NFL Blitz after Midway went under, and sat on them.

 

REMEMBER NFL BLITZ??? It was awesome!

 

I'm looking forward to seeing something like that come back.

RighteousWoman
RighteousWoman

I really don't see this as much of a victory. In fact, quite the contrary. So they cant resign an exclusivity deal with the NCAA for a few years. Big deal. They still own the NFL and once 2014 comes around they will own the NCAA again. So what company in their right mind would want to invest in creating an NCAA game when the same thing is going to happen all over again in 2014. Its only 2 years away. Its a money losing venture all the way around. Just another victory for EA. The ruling should have helped pave the way for ending exclusivity for sports games. It basically did the exact opposite by guaranteeing that EA will be right back to owning football come 2014.

hunter8man
hunter8man

This is a step in the right direction. People no longer wanted to pay $60 for the same game year after year, and now 2K can get back in on the action. Hopefully the NFL exclusive rights will be gone next.

Triton
Triton

Great news, one down - one to go.

arikkot
arikkot

 @slicedbread117 Yeah, 2K baseball games are pretty awful. One of the main reasons I ended up getting a PS3 over an Xbox 360; they are just that awful.

Matcam89
Matcam89

 @kennyjb00777

 NFL2k series would be awesome, but it seems its only NCAA and Arena football. Which sucks.

csward
csward

 @stziggy Monopolies are illegal. However, courts have ruled in the past that license can be exclusive, so this decision is a huge, huge precedent. Although it may just be arbitration, so I'm not sure how much legal bearing it will have.

Ghosthunter54
Ghosthunter54

 @stziggy They signed contracts that made it illegal for anyone to compete with them in football using actual teams and actual players - hence the backbreaker franchise will all fake teams and fake players. 

terminus
terminus

@TheKeef 

I don't know what you're smoking, but Ncaa now compared to Ps2/xbox is nothing like those non-real feeling mechanics that we have today, not to mention graphics, although the older ncaa had much more options in regard to stats and ability to play multiple teams in a franchise. However, back in those days, I enjoyed 2k sports football games, both ncaa and nfl. EA finally got their mechanics right though in the last few years. I rememver all EA football games felt like you were ice skating on field, horrid controls.

terminus
terminus

@MADDENFOREVER 

Simple, NFL sucks, most boring pathedic sport, doesn't hold a candle to NCAA, have you ever been to a real NCAA FBS football game? Big time NCAA schools hold twice as many fans then NFL stadiums. The only thing stopping NCAA FBS football from completely taking over the market is a lack of a playoff system. I don't even know how you can watch NFL, I compare it to watching Golf. So I care, and the other 80 million plus fans in america who live and die college football.

richten71
richten71

 @LtReviews Not sure what you mean MLB the only thing to buy when you have MLB 12: The Show (Greatest baseball game) and Major League Baseball 2K12?

richten71
richten71

 @RighteousWoman EA will let it's contract lapse starting in 2014 and will not have an exclusivity deal with NCAA for 5 years. So, other companies will be allowed to create NCAA football games until 2019 and starting with 2020 and beyond, both sides will determine if they want to enter into another contract or not. That's 8 years away before EA can take over again, not 2 years.

warrner11
warrner11

 @eitremn true but who else at this point would honestly put forth a true "4th & Goal" effort to make a good one?

terminus
terminus

@richten71 @LtReviews 

Yeah, 2k has been making baseball games only for years now, even though I like the latest 2k baseball games, because I know how to work the pitching mechanics that it seems like everyone I have ever played, still doesn't get it, pitching is the best thing in the game. On the other hand, I still thought the one title that EA was better at, the only title, was their baseball franchise, WAS great.