EA serves notice in Madden antitrust suit

Those who bought football sim after 2004 have until June 25 to exclude themselves from suit or be bound by eventual settlement or judgment.

A gridiron grudge match years in the making is finally nearing kickoff. A 2008 class-action suit over Electronic Arts' NFL exclusivity is getting closer to the courtroom, as EA today notified those who have purchased its football games since January 1, 2005, that it's time to exclude themselves from the suit or be bound by its eventual outcome.

The plaintiffs accuse EA of using a prevent (competition) defense.

The notice, which is available in full on a website for the case set up by class-action administration firm Gilardi and Co., details the allegations. It also specifies who qualifies as a class member (essentially those who purchased EA's Madden, NCAA Football, or Arena Football games on consoles or handhelds) and how people can exclude themselves from the suit if they want to keep their own right to sue Electronic Arts on this matter. Those who don't exclude themselves will have to accept any eventual settlement or judgment in the case.

The suit was originally filed by a pair of gamers in Washington, DC, and California who allege the publisher engaged in "blatantly anticompetitive conduct" in the way that it cornered the football-gaming genre. The complaint focuses on Electronic Arts' actions since 2004, when Take-Two Interactive's NFL 2K5 was released at a $19.99 price point and EA dropped the price of its Madden 2005 from $49.95 to $29.95 in response.

"This vigorous competition benefited consumers," according to the suit. "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 in the United States: the National Football League, the Arena Football League, and NCAA Football."

With no Take-Two competitor the following year, the suit notes that Electronic Arts raised the price of Madden 2006 back to $49.95, an increase of nearly 70 percent. The suit also brings up Electronic Arts' attempted acquisition of Take-Two, saying that it "would remove one of the few companies with the ability and expertise to compete in the market for interactive football software" if EA somehow lost its exclusive deals, which are set to expire in 2013.

The plaintiffs asked for restitution and damages for those who have purchased an Electronic Arts football game since August of 2005, disgorgement of all profits made as a result of anticompetitive actions, and that the infringing agreements be declared null and void.

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Discussion

104 comments
cjtopspin
cjtopspin

I hopped on this bandwagon more out of principal than any kind of expectation of monetary gain.  Screw EA.

redskinStu
redskinStu

Fight the power. Now they just need to fix all the bugs in Madden 07.

YouVandal3
YouVandal3

only bought one Madden game... Madden 09 and i took it back a day later.

Alex_09
Alex_09

EA really does deserve to be sued for being greedy. I love how everyone attacks Activision(don't get me wrong they're bad) but ignores the fact EA is much worse. Sure Activision will rip off their bigger fans, but they won't make it blatantly obvious like EA, and they don't do so right off the bat. I can't think of one piece of day one DLC Activision released for a game. Look at EA's record.. They might publish some great games, but they treat their fans, and customers in general, like ****.

kage_53
kage_53

Richten71 "They didn't even have any competition from NBA Live and NBA 2K11 is still a crappy game. " Wait, what ? 2k11 is hands down the best basketball game made. The only people that ***** about it are those that like to do those stupid half court passes that Live is known for. You have to make extremely accurate passes instead of just randomly passing it from one side to another. The Michael Jordan presentation and challenges really push it over the top as well.

kage_53
kage_53

Richten71 "They didn't even have any competition from NBA Live and NBA 2K11 is still a crappy game. " Wait, what ? 2k11 is hands down the best basketball game made. The only people that ***** about it are those that like to do those stupid half court passes that Live is known for. You have to make extremely accurate passes instead of just randomly passing it from one side to another. The Michael Jordan presentation and challenges really push it over the top as well.

anomaly3001
anomaly3001

@valdarez Your preaching to the Chior! 2k5 is still better than any New Madden game! It just the Madden "loyalists" who can't see that! Most of these Madden "loyalists" made Madden seem as if its the best game year after year but these guys are not gamers! They just play one type of game, and EA depends on these "loyalists" to make them seem like they are making a superior product when in fact they are not! If us real fans of gaming were to let our voices be heard over the Millions of Madden Fan boys we could get our beloved 2k football back!

valdarez
valdarez

As EA Sports continues to remove things from the game while charging gamers for them (DLC), or charging for things they used to give away for free such as their QA Codes ('Boostables'), EA's greed may actually give the case some actual credit on the price front, beyond the fact that the exclusive license has allowed them to maintain a higher price point over a longer period of time each year than otherwise would have been allowed if there were competition as the 2005 year showed. 6 years later, with a full console rev inbetween (Xbox to the XBox 360), and 2K5 still out performs Madden on many of the core football aspects, presentation, and commentary. It's just sad what the NFL and EA have done to their NFL fans. EA Sports has not revitalized Madden as we were led to believe they would several years ago, instead focusing on every little nickel and dime technique they can to bleed their already battered customer base. *sigh*

wiiplay1
wiiplay1

@colt_a Is it EA's fault that they bought football games?

Judas_III
Judas_III

EA has a history of being underhanded in it's business model. Don't drop out of the class action suit, even if you don't have the reciept. Owning the game is like possession in the law. Fight the good fight if you want to get better games. There are plenty of developers that want badly to make these games, but cannot because EA did this. Modern warfare is another great example of an EA takeover if you want to see it that way.

aPimpNAMEDGekko
aPimpNAMEDGekko

Hell yes, I hate EA. I haven't bought an EA game new since 2004, only pre-owned so that they couldn't benefit even a small amount from my money. 2K5 is still IMHO the BEST football game made. I used to buy both Madden and the 2K series, but quite honestly Madden has never been as playable as 2K5 was. I hope they get their dick knocked in the dirt and are forced to disgorge their profit! DOWN WITH EA! SOULLESS GAME MAKER OF SOULLESS GAMES!

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

and let ea keep making nfl games, not a target of payback.

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

and i got those ea football games! do i had to be in this lawsuit?!?!? no ****!

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

i just now want 2k to "get it back". lawsuits dont work, dummies!

richten71
richten71

Everyone complains about Madden being the same game every year, and yet people buy it every year. Basically, 2K sports tried to get the upper hand on Madden by selling it at a cheaper price and it back fired. And if EA is being blamed for overcharging for its games, why are all the other game companies not being blamed for overcharging for their games, Take Two included? If they can sell a football game for $19.99, why can't they sell their basketball games for $19.99? They didn't even have any competition from NBA Live and NBA 2K11 is still a crappy game. Talk about overcharging for a game. EA will win this lawsuit thanks to all the people that complained about the game and went out and bought it anyways.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

Also, even if I plan to revoke, it's clear to me EA is going to soon lose the NFL license after it expires. EA is being hounded by nothing but negative publicity and the EA hate is growing by the minute. Sales continue to plummet and their improvements are becoming more stagnant. Madden's sales have digressed into nothing but marketing strategies. Madden people are being divided into two groups: 1.) People who hate Madden. 2.) People who hate it, but have no where else to turn. I have never heard someone recently say they love Madden or are particularly captivated by it. The NFL lockout fear did extend EA's NFL license 1-year, but I wonder if the NFL did that out of obligation as a partner rather than their love of the franchise. There are also circulating rumors 2k and Backbreaker are planning future football games. Backbreaker 1 may not have opened up people's wallets, but it opened up their eyes.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

I filed a long time ago and am a part of this class law-suit. I received an updated email, confirming they still recognize me. However, I might send in my electronic permission to revoke. I don't have any of my receipts and I only have Madden 08 and 09, so I don't see how this is worth my time (or money). Hell, I'm not sure why I participated in this lawsuit in the first place. If EA ends up winning, I don't want to bother with the legal hassle. If they end up losing, whoop dee doo... $120? What's that after taxes? Class participants have until June 25, 2011 to revoke, so I'll bide my time until then.

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

I can kinda see what they mean about, essentially, bad business ethics. But it all seems kinda pathetic. Surely there are more worthy battles to be fought.

dreamforager
dreamforager

Would have been bad enough if EA only made this agreement with the NFL. The fact that they made it also with NCAA and Arena football makes them look downright guilty. EA hasn't made an Arena Football game since 2007. EA made an agreement with Arena Football only to lock 2K out from making ANY licensed football game. Someone should make a fully customizable football game and let the online community turn it into an NFL game. Surprised Sony hasn't gone that route with their recent embrace of user created content in games like LBP, MNR and the upcoming Infamous 2. That could be the NFL's worst nightmare, rendering their license valueless.

Henninger
Henninger

I hope they have 2 pay a lot of money. All these years with no good football sim. The NFL better not renew their exclusive rights past 2013. We need good football games. Not the same yearly crap that EA puts out.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

What do you do if you did buy a copy new copy of Madden in 2006 and didn't keep your reciept?

chazzx21
chazzx21

Although unfortunate for gamers and EA, I think people have been choosing with their wallets, as sales of Madden have continued to decline year after year.

atopp399
atopp399

Since the deal the price has risen and the game has stagnated. Pretty clear what happened to me.

stomponyahead
stomponyahead

I've been telling people this since 2005.Now 6 years later, people are seeing the light.I hope 2k sports gets back into the game.Lets be honest, they were the better developers.End of story.

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

They simply need to do what Pro evo soccer do and release the game with made up names for the teams, and give users the ability to edit them. Within a week someone will have an option file online with official player names and team names. Easy.

Stevieweiser
Stevieweiser

The guys who filed this lawsuit should get medals. I remember years ago when online gaming first became popular, EA floated this idea out there that people wouldn't have to buy the new game every year, just pay $10-$20 dollars to download the new rosters. I can't believe how naive we all were then to believe that. Madden peaked on the PS2, it's been nothing but garbage since then.

hunter8man
hunter8man

When this lawsuit was first filed, I didn't expect much to come of it. But now that it actually stands a chance in court, I could see EA losing this one. In fact, I hope they do. Most of the reviews and gamers see that Madden and NCAA haven't changed one bit since they got the exclusive deal. If they at least don't offer restitution, I would hope this would lead EA into just offering downloadable updated rosters and game updates for cheap so that football fans won't have to shell out $60 for the same game every year.

howie1926
howie1926

@AJC3317 I guess we do. But I don't understand how they can tell who has and has not bought a Madden, NCAA, or Arena game since 2005. I have bought probably 6 of them, but I have no receipts or anything.

packers91
packers91

all 2k would have to do is boot up nfl 2k5, rename it football 2k11, give the teams generic names and fanboys would eat it up

No_asylum
No_asylum

What about those of use that didn't buy the game because of the monopoly? I was not able to playing a cheaper, better game!

badwins
badwins

Another worthless law suite! first if the law suite stood a chance I believe that take two with there legal team and long dollars would have sued long ago. Second companies enter into exclusive agreements all the time. The movie industry is a prime example. The problem is that the agreement didn't hinder impede or stop take two from releasing a football game, just the use of the nfl trademarks. On that point I think EA will win because, like i stated above, companies enter into these kinds of agreements all the time!

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

Seriously how hard is it to just release an NFL rules type game with the ability to edit anything on it ? I would buy it immediately.

Superzone
Superzone

I'm really starting to get the feeling that we'll be seeing a new NFL game from 2K pretty soon....

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

Wait, so what are people who bought the game going to have to do? Will they be included in the ruling or what?

namdar
namdar

Wow... EA's screwed... but can the plaintiff withstand , EA's high priced lawyers ?

McDog3
McDog3

And so it finally gets to court, I remember when the agreement was first made and its controversy... I actually feel confident EA will lose, it is quite clear that the tactic EA took to secure their sports franchises created a monopoly.

nocoolnamejim
nocoolnamejim moderator

Seems like a pretty blatant open/shut Monopoly to me. The pricing evidence is pretty strong. I hope that the class action lawsuit wins. Getting true innovation in football games and some price competition would sure be nice.

DennisWZH
DennisWZH

srsly, if EA loses and the license is free again, do you honestly think 2K will sell the game at 19.99$?

DjGootch
DjGootch

the NFL is not a monopoly bc they are not producing the product. the players choose to play in the nfl. they could just as well play in the CFL, or the UFL, the nfl can offer more, but that is not their fault. not to mention, the nfl itself has little to no power over what the teams do in terms of money. the league works for the owners and the owners dictate the price of players, etc. It's already been argued in court that the nfl cannot be considered a monopoly, whereas a game company that engages in competition and then goes out of its way to clearly and efficiently eliminate the competition in order to keep the price of their product high, IS a monopoly in the truest sense of the word. The nfl doesn't dictate ticket prices for individual teams, it doesn't dictate concession prices for individual teams, each team is its own business competing with each other, its not like microsoft packaging every pc with windows, thats much more cut and dry. edqmaster, you're clearly wrong on this...i don't agree with EA in the least, but make sure you have your facts straight before you make a comment like that.

Batosai001
Batosai001

Hopefully EA will lose this lawsuit, but I can't help but wonder why Take2 didn't take them to court themselves when this exclusive deal came about. I mean since they picked up Visual Concepts from Sega, they have always had the superior sports games. The moment the 2K series came out NBA Live and Madden just couldn't compete quality wise as a product. Now I'm not entirely against EA, but I do believe that the Madden series has suffered from the lack of competition. Also from the mer fact that people don't speak with their wallets anymore. I have a friend that buys Madden every year and he always complains about the game and how it's not as good as it used to be. Well how about stop disappointing yourself and stop wasting your money (on the same game every year). Don't buy it, and if enough people did that, maybe things would change. Just because a title has a "Name" on it doesn't mean you have to buy it!!!

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

"blatantly anticompetitive conduct" Absolutely EA has done this. I have boycotted Madden ever since this monopolistic tactic cut out 2K. I refuse to reward a company for that behavior.

edqmaster
edqmaster

Well the NFl Its self is a Monopoly so if they get sued can they go after the NFl aswell

hornetine
hornetine

EA will lose this lawsuit. Cant wait for real football games to come out

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

Glad I didn't buy any of these s*** games then. Always knew they sucked

spencertaylor
spencertaylor

guys, ea is a big corporation and that means by law, they dont give a dead moose's last sh1t about the quality of their games as long as people buy the polished turd that is madden, they will squat down over our mouths each year and pinch one off until we say this tastes like sh1t and sue their asses if you dont agree with the rationale behind this lawsuit, then you are endorsing the ea poopscapade that is the madden franchise. and no im not mad at the nfl for selling their rights because pro sports teams are exempt from anti trust laws.

sonicare
sonicare

Lots of companies have given "exclusive" rights to their product to another company. If people are mad at EA, they should be equally mad at the NFL and NFLPA for selling their rights.

StromileSwiftee
StromileSwiftee

@Dillinger... Baseball Stars was the JOINT!!! Back then it brought about innovation, today EA could care less about innovation. Because they have an exclusivity deal with the NFL license, if gamers want to play with NFL teams, they have to purchase Madden. Personally I would be content with a great football game that didn't have the NFL license, I enjoy finding out which players are good on the individual teams. And if you think about it, depending on how many franchise seasons you play in Madden, eventually all the real NFL players are phased out.

Stressthesky
Stressthesky

It's a d!ck move by EA, effectively eliminating all competition by buying the exclusive rights. Where I live, monopoly is illegal because if there is no competition, then there will be no progress.

comb5
comb5

@Tseng Did you read the whole article? The main point of this suit is to get money back from EA because they corned 2K out of the football game market by buying the NFL rights.