Judge certifies EA football class-action suit

Court gives gamers the go-ahead to join litigation surrounding alleged anticompetitive practices by Madden NFL publisher since January 1, 2005.

One thing's for sure: Electronic Arts' legal department won't be getting a lighter workload for Christmas. One day after the publisher was slapped with a $400 million lawsuit stemming from its alleged involvement in the firings of Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, US District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker certified a national class-action lawsuit against EA's Madden NFL, NCAA Football, and Arena Football licenses, which was originally filed in June 2008.

EA's having a rough run on the legal gridiron.

As a result of today's ruling, gamers who bought Madden NFL, NCAA Football, or Arena Football games published by EA after January 1, 2005, can join the lawsuit as plaintiffs. Gamers can join the suit through law firm Hagens Berman's website.

"Consumers now have a legal standing to demand that EA refund consumers millions of dollars it made from Madden NFL and other sports titles through what we contend was an illegal price-gouging scheme," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. "We're gratified by the ruling, and believe it underscores how lucrative and exclusive agreements in the video game industry can come with an inflated price tag for consumers."

The suit, which was filed by Hagens Berman on behalf of a pair of gamers from Washington, DC, and California, alleged that EA has engaged in "blatantly anticompetitive conduct" since 2004 and continues to do so. At that time, EA and Take-Two Interactive released competing NFL Football products, resulting in a pricing war that saw Take-Two drop the price of its NFL 2K5 to $19.99 and EA cut Madden 2005's sticker tag to $29.95 in response.

However, the suit alleged that rather than continue the pricing war with Take-Two, EA secured exclusivity deals with the NFL, NCAA, and Arena football leagues. With no Take-Two competitor the following year, the suit noted that Electronic Arts raised the price of Madden 2006 back to $49.95, an increase of nearly 70 percent. Madden NFL currently retails for as much as $59.95.

"We believe EA forced consumers to pay an artificial premium on Madden NFL video games," Berman continued. "We intend to prove that EA could inflate prices on their sports titles because these exclusive licenses restrained trade and competition for interactive sports software."

Madden NFL remains one of EA's best-selling titles, according to the NPD Group. In November, the most recent edition of the game, Madden NFL 11, ranked fourth in US retail sales, having seen release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PSP, and Wii.

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498 comments
jer_1
jer_1

Excellent, EA needs to be cut off from their crappy money printer (madden). 2K Has always had a better product when it comes to NFL, they'll be back and they'll certainly replace themselves as the better game company.

GICobraBlack
GICobraBlack

Again people fail to see that the only party that is in charge of their product is the NFL! The NFL is allowed to enter into any agreement it wants. Your real issues is with NFL not EA. The NFL could have let 2 or even 5 different companies to make NFL license games but guess what......they only allowed one. They were within their right to do so. In less someone gonna to argue that? Oh please do. People forget that the NFL is one company not a public birth right. Its like suing Microsoft for not allowing Bunige to license their Halo content to Sony. Its just plain stupid. Point the NFL is the only authority on who is allow or isn't allowed to use their license, logos, and etc. So it the NFL says "We only want XXX company to make license NFL Football game" Guess what people.........They within their right. EA didn't do anything wrong.

Count_Hesley
Count_Hesley

Good news. Exclusive licensing is bad for gamers. It prevents competition which restricts us to one game (good or bad) at an arbitrary price. Competition gives us innovation, choice, and lower prices. Long live the free market and let the best sports game claim the spoils.

pszone
pszone

this year that EA games going to lose money this year

smzee27
smzee27

@cikame The problem was that EA bought out the licensing rights, so 2KGames could not legally produce "NFL" branded games. That in itself probably would have been fine, but then EA went ahead and obscenely raised the prices of their own products. This is a form of price-gouging and it's illegal because the consumers lose out.

badtaker
badtaker

Ea sucks they think they invented sports and always do evil things by not allowing other developers to make sports games i am happy that 2k have started making sports games and they are supporting PC. If nba 2k11 was made by EA they would be not release the PC version

Dominicobaggio
Dominicobaggio

@dynamo11 @Jedi_Shearstone thanks dynamo i was beginning to lose all faith in what they teach at schools nowadays. To americans abusing french they fought harder and lost more in ww1 then most other countries put together, their country was ruined. ANY army faced with germany in 1939 would have been steamrollered (and were) Russia and Britian (commonwealth) then weakened the germans over the following years. When the west invaded france under General Montgomery in the beach landings they faced the weakest of troops, the elite were in the north or fighting russia. Britian then had to advance in the north of france (vs the toughest germans in france) while russia attacked the elite. The Free french also fought on in ww2 in the landings and other battles, and the cowardly "vichy french" you all talk about are actually the government america recognised as the real french when america didnt want to fight. They were quite happy to give credence to this german puppet government, unlike UK who knew the free french were the real french. The German airforce was devastated after the battle of britain, so no it wasnt all America, despite what films show. Also Germany declared war on the USA so again, America didnt come dancing in to save the world. i would go into more depth but its difficult with so few words allowed lol

cikame
cikame

...Isn't that just Take-Two's fault for not releasing a competing product? Companies all over the world every day price things too high, what's the big deal?

slothboyadvance
slothboyadvance

@mrpivo NFL =/= All of Football They're simply a league that plays football. As long as you don't use their teams, players, fields, etc; you can make a football game.

naibwerd
naibwerd

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Dynamo11
Dynamo11

This isn't football, it's hand-egg. @Jedi_Shearstone by land it was the Eastern Front that was the biggest however the Western Front was by far the most fiercest, especially around Verdun, The Somme and Ypres.

Jedi_Shearstone
Jedi_Shearstone

@Dominicobaggio WWI nearly all on French Soil? the balkans, the eastern front, turkey, palestine, rest of middle east, guess they don't count then.... also how brave were France to fight? well not that brave they lost extremely quickly then Southern France and French North Africa signed a peace treaty instead of fighting with other Free french troops with Britain get your facts straight before you act superior.

Dominicobaggio
Dominicobaggio

@supernaught360 that historical post made me laugh. My post was in jest to basically show how insane the idea of this court case is and i apoligise for any offence caused. It was so stereotypical i didnt think anyone would take offence but I was wrong. n I have the pittsburg flag because i have some american relations there and once saw a game. Ps the french fought amazingly in 2 world wars. The first for the full term. Both were fought on their soil, the first nearly all on their soil in fact with massive losses. Its something you mustnt be able to comprehend but remember America didnt have a stomach for a war by 1939 so how brave were france to fight despite their horrific losses in 1914-18,france the British and russians were the 3 bravest herioc nations of the 20th century (and by British i mean commonwealth ie australia india canada etc too many heros to list) They all gave so much for the freedom of others at no profit to themselves.

SLAMT1LT
SLAMT1LT

NFL 2K5 is the only original Xbox game I still own and it's still the best sports game ever made in my opinion. Never bought a Madden game and I never will. Seems like EA pulled a 'Dick Dastardly' and slyly removed all other competitors from the race to ensure victory. Bad sportsmanship.

BcFresh
BcFresh

i hope dey lose it too doe...i love madden and i loved it wen 2k was out..but i knoe plenty ppl dat hate madden and really enjoyed 2k and wer outraged wen madden tookover and quit playin til this day..but its time for a change..hope fully this will come thru and we.ll see the best football game to date

anomaly3001
anomaly3001

I'm no Video Game groupie like most Madden heads that praise Madden no matter how much the games does not change from year to year, but I believe gamers should have a choice of what games they want to play within a genre! Just imagine if this happened with other game genres! Gamers should be able to choose between at least 2 NFL licensed games! The better game will cancel the other out or it simply won't matter becasuse to each his own! But seriously look how NBA2k evolved and killed NBA live, I have a feeling that EA feared this would happen to Madden!

DKHardee
DKHardee

I hope EA loses its exclusive license but... I always liked Madden better.

pech17
pech17

this is amazing, 2k sports always put out better games...i hope EA loses the license so 2k can make football games again

CPM_basic
CPM_basic

EA makes some great games. But it's crap like this that makes people hate them. I don't buy the NFL games but I do buy the NHL games. At least with the EA's NHL franchise it is a lot better than it's competitor 2k, however you can't say the same about EA's NFL or NBA.

terminus
terminus

I hope EA goes down, I haven't bought an EA game since 08. No company should have exclusive rights to the nfl, ncaa, nba, mlba or any sports for that matter. I loved 2k football compared to madden, it was nice to have a variety of nfl licensed football games, not only did they ensure they would have the only nfl football game for the next decade or more, but they nix it from the pc, but continue to make games like crocket or horseshoes on the pc instead of football lol, come on, this company has been shady since they were founded, get them, hit them hard, and make them suffer some more.

DukeMagnum
DukeMagnum

I'm going to sort of agree with you, parrot_of_adun , but only sort of. Overall, I doubt this will have any merit when a judge hears the case. For EA to lose, a judge would have to make the distinction between EA's competition within a very specific sub-genre (sports games: football) and competition in the market as a whole (video games). I don't believe a reasonable judge will make this distinction. Madden may have no NFL licensed competition, but it is certainly not without competition from other games. Its prices are also in line with what one could expect to pay for a new, high-profile game on the market. As far as price gouging in general, I will disagree with you there (without getting too political). I used to see the situation as you do: free markets should dictate all prices and availability of goods and services. However, there is a need to protect the consumer from corporate greed. Sure, price gouging helps get goods and services to places where they are needed in times of emergency. But what about gas stations raising gas prices to over $4 a gallon during the hours following 9/11? Any regulatory practice will have unintended consequences, but in this case, I think they are worth it. In short, policy should favor the average citizen. According to one of the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, "he exemplifies virtue", whereas corporations "make cities cesspools of corruption".

Marky360
Marky360

Well I guess it could be worst it not like EA bought the rights to be the only company that can make Football Games just NFL and NCAA licensed football games. Other companies can still make Football games.

OmegaTau
OmegaTau

Good I use to be a sucker for madden I stopped after 08.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

@ BlackBaldwin Of course the employees will incur a backlash. To EA, employees are just gears in their machine. If the machine gets too big, they'll remove a few pieces. EA doesn't care about their customers, nor their employees. As long as EA's making money, EA doesn't care.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I'm glad to hear EA will finally recieve some much needed attention for questionable business practices lets just hope their employees don't recieve the backlash due to this court hearings....

El_Esbirro
El_Esbirro

Well, what they can do is simple...if they are just doing a software update, adding a couple of referees here and there doing hand signals, some new touchdown celebretaion...then just charge a price within the $20 to $30 and called it an expansion pack. That's it. That's all they have to do. When they actually do a real overhaul, with a new graphic and physics engine, with a more polished superstar mode and online mode and franchise stuff, THEN and only THEN called it "the NEW madden" and charge the $60. This happens on all sports games...they charge you for roster updates and crap, but its the same thing...basically you have to wait years for them to make an actual new game. It happend for the FIFA games, it appears this might happen aswell for the nba live games, even on Pro Evolution Soccer. For madden, we are still waiting.

dlmcamaross
dlmcamaross

They should sue them over the used game fee. You're already paying for Live. Why pay for a fee to play the game? If EA really owns the game, they should give you your money back if it sucks.

63subzero
63subzero

good, i haven't bought a football game since getting 2K5. heck, i'm still a bit bitter about EA pulling this crap. i hope they get kicked hard in the mouth.

nate_c-12
nate_c-12

I signed up for the lawsuit. I hope I get accepted

hvypetals
hvypetals

yay! this is what you get for stifling the competition EA you greedy bastidges. The chickens have come home to roost!!! HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!!!!!

NBA_CM15
NBA_CM15

i loved playing madden on my ps2.

mike468
mike468

EA create a monopoly with the football genre because they couldn't compete with Take-Two. It allowed them get lazy with their games since. Sadly even if this lawsuit pans out, and EA looses (even if they loose the NFL license, and there is competition again) I don't see there being any real completion to Madden.

ROE_Wedge
ROE_Wedge

@ parrot of adun I agree with you... but free market also implies that you can not monopolize an industry and that you can have as much competition on NFL football games as possible. When EA bought exclusive rights to the NFL license (something they did not create) they were essentially taking away free market competition. The lawsuit taking place here is to tag EA on what they did and allow other game publishers the chance to compete. I think this specific case is trying to hit EA under the name of price-gouging since they were able to solely control and inflate the prices themselves. I will be interested in seeing how they can pull that off. I understand that this is common business practice in America but it is certainly not free market economics. We work under a regulated market if anything... far from the utopian free market concept.

Sythion
Sythion

This lawsuit is flawed because it assumes that since a game was once sold for 29.99 it can afford to be sold for 29.99. Class action lawyers are sometimes defenders of the common people, but more often they are con artists. This is definitely the latter. Oh, and I hate football games.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

Personally, I don't understand why you could sue one for price gouging. If the consumer is willing to pay $60 for a madden game, that's their prerogative. It seems, to me, against the concept of a free market to restrict what people can charge for goods. People know what they are buying here. If the people make poor purchases, that's the problem of said purchasers. If the product was misrepresented, then it would be entirely different, but all we have here is people who knew well what they wanted when they payed $60 for this game, and they got it, and are likely happy with it. I'm not saying saying anything about my political opinions or anything like that, but if some one is part of a system that legally supports a free market, how could they certify a suit against an action that clearly abides by such a fundamentally American concept?

theslimdavylp
theslimdavylp

This is dumb. If you don't want to pay $59 for the game, then don't... don't buy it! I don't :)

drummerdickens
drummerdickens

I'd love a decent Gridiron game to exist. As an Englishman I have no idea how the rules work and would love to play a game to get used to it to see if I like it as much as I already do Football.

kevykev
kevykev

Someone should sue EA for killing the football game. I use to love football games, what the hell happened. Ever since madden jumped to 360/ps3 generation it lost a few steps and has never recovered. For the love of god, would everyone please stop buying madden so they can finally reboot the series.

reelokated
reelokated

@GICobraBlack: I thought the article is self explanatory as to how EA is at fault here; its called Bribing and Monopolizing a franchise. NFL does not really care who makes the game or how it looks, the only thing they care for are their fat pockets filled with cash. EA was able to acquire the NFL license by filling up certain individuals pockets with $$$, to the point where they influenced, or just convinced(more likely) them not to allow other gaming companies (such as "Take-Two") to acquire the NFL license. With Take-Two out of the picture; EA had monopolized the NFL franchise, and was able to increase the price of the game by %70.

GICobraBlack
GICobraBlack

I don't know how EA is at fault. The NFL are the only ones that can allow software companies to make a NFL full license game. In less some can prove me other wise? This means that any software company can make an football game but if they want to use NFL logos and etc then they have to go thru NFL. And If the NFL doesn't want a company to use their license, then NFL is within their right to do so. Meaning the NFL only wanted EA to use their license. Where did EA go wrong again? It would be like Bungie being sued by ps3 owners for not making a ps3 version of Halo. This lawsuit is stupid and any judge will throw this out of court.

DemonWolfFenrir
DemonWolfFenrir

Wow this is gonna help lower the price of games Wtf to all cheap gamers this is just going to raise the price of games and cost people their jobs what happened to free trade.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@bigstingman [QUOTE="parrot_of_adun"][/QUOTE](Historical discussions on the Internet take too much time and effort... For my taste anyway.)

McNeelyJ39
McNeelyJ39

I'm not going to say Madden is worth the money, but I honestly think that Madden is just a weak game overall. I haven't bought a Madden game since 2008 because of how weak it really was even with good reviews it just didn't offer a better experience. The fact that they charge $60 every year for a roster update is the real issue here, but all sports titles do that, not quite fair to single out Madden on this, all sport titles should be analyzed in that sense. Which is why i only buy sport games once every 2 - 3 years tops.

twyz
twyz

How is $59.99 price gouging? Almost every new game retails for that same price.

ChiefMac88
ChiefMac88

Ayato_Kamina_1: You do realize that the NFL and NFLPA offered this license to the highest bidder? EA are bullies for wisely buying this exclusive deal? Believe me, I think Madden sucks now due to lack of competition just like you do, but the NFL and NFLPA are the ones to blame for the exclusive license. EA is only to blame for being lazy with their game.

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

NFL 2k5 was better than any of the madden games i've played... hell the madden games have gotten progressively worse. I hope they stick it to EA for the scumbags they are. Bullying their way into being the only company with full licences and rights for sports and then churning out the same rehased product year after year and asking for extortionate prices... my fury... you could bottle it.

petemig
petemig

Glad something is finally done. EA has been riding this wave for far too long. They need some competition so us gamers can enjoy football again.

bigstingman
bigstingman

@parrot_of_adun How is that a poor understanding?