Several readers have forwarded to PFT headquarters class-action notices received today in a lawsuit filed over the practice of EA purchasing exclusive licenses for the production and sale of sports video games.
The notices have been sent because a California judge has “certified” the class action against EA, which alleges that the cost of the exclusive license was passed along to consumers, making the product necessarily more expensive than it otherwise would have been.
“The class action lawsuit alleges violations of California’s antitrust and consumer protection laws in connection with the sale of certain football video games,” the notice states. “Plaintiffs, purchasers of Electronic Arts’ football video games, claim that Defendant Electronic Arts entered into a series of exclusive licenses with the National Football League (NFL), National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA), National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), and Arena Football League (AFL), which Plaintiffs claim foreclosed competition in an alleged football video game market. Plaintiffs allege that this series of exclusive licenses caused customers who purchased certain football video games to be overcharged.”
Several years ago, EA obtained an exclusive license with the NFL, freezing out of the market any potential competition. Many believe that, without competition, the Madden franchise has stagnated.
The decision to certify the class doesn’t mean that EA has been found guilty of wrongdoing. Instead, it means that all persons who have purchased video football games made by EA since January 1, 2005 will have their rights bound together.
Given that yours truly has purchased Madden every year throughout the past decade (some years on multiple platforms) and the NCAA game several times and even the AFL game, I’ll probably eventually get something like a coupon for $10 off my next purchase of an EA game, while the lawyers who filed the case get $10 million in fees.