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EA settles $27m Madden monopoly lawsuit

Banned from signing new NCAA deal for 5 years, must refund consumers

EA has settled a class action lawsuit that claimed its exclusive rights to NFL Football were an illegal monopoly. The $27 million settlement means a restriction on further exclusive deals between EA and the NCAA, and a minimal refund for consumers.

Kotaku reports EA now has a five year ban on signing another exclusive deal with the NCAA. This doesn't mean that when its current deal ends in 2014 EA can't continue to make titles like its mega hit Madden, it just can't do it exclusively.

Meanwhile the $27 million will go to consumers who bought an NFL, NFLPA. NCAA or AFL title after 2005, and on Xbox 360, Wii or PS3 and those who bought a game on PS2, GameCube or Xbox, who can claim either $1.95 or $6.79 respectively.

Analyst Michael Pachter thought it seemed unlikely this would mean a sudden surge in new American sports titles from other publishers.

"Take-Two Interactive was burned by Major League Baseball, and only Konami and Take-Two make sports games (soccer and NBA, respectively)," he told GamesBeat.

"Nobody wants to compete with [Electronic Arts]."

The lawsuit was filed in July 2008, and open to all who had purchased a Madden NFL, NCAA Football, or Arena Football League between January 1 2005 and the present.

"Plaintiffs in the case are purchasers of Electronic Arts football video games, and they 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."

In 2011 EA renegotiated its exclusive NFL Madden deal, reportedly requesting a $30 million reduction in the price because of disputes between the NFL and its players.

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Latest comments (4)

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
So, no new deal for 5 years, but in 5 years they can have a monopoly again?
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Devante Adams designer 9 years ago
EA should be banned on all its sports titles that have an exclusive license.
But also the sports industry should be fined for selling exclusive license to just one company in general.
Because of EA holding these exclusive licenses, sports games sale have plummeted in all areas (Check the sales stats on VGChart for this generation vs last generation on all platforms).
All game companies should have the right to buy these licenses (but not exclusively), which would make the key selling point of these games being how good or innovative the game is, and not because you're the only company with real team or player names.
I hope Fifa looks at the errors of their ways instead of being greedy, as there would be a lot better competition in the football game space had they not allowed EA to have an exclusive license.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
Ugh, this is terrible. I was hoping they'd lose the NFL license and we may actually get a good NFL game, but no, that won't happen. More crappy Madden games. :(
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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe9 years ago
Devante, who should 'Ban' EA? Who should fine the 'sports industry'?

I'm sure each FIFA title is already of sufficient quality year-on-year to please FIFA themselves, and as long as they're paying for the license and EA are not negatively impacting FIFA's business dealings or reputation, why would they want to change it?
Only if someone can demonstrate they'd provide a better return than EA are providing. It's about revenue, not about providing competition in the marketplace.
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