Any fan of the football video game genre during the early 2000s saw this one coming from a mile away. In December of 2004, EA Sports signed a deal with the NFL that granted the publisher exclusivity over the NFL, NCAA, AFL and NFLPA licenses for use in video games. Games like NFL 2K with official team names, logos and players, were made illegal to produce and, thus, disappeared from yearly launch lineups.
A notice went out late last night to an undisclosed mailing list, which I was somehow a part of, that served to inform consumers who purchased a football game for consoles published by EA from retailers outside of EA from 2005 onward. Despite the qualifications to become a member of the class action suit, it's obvious to say that the group going into litigations with EA is massive.
Their case? They claim that EA has started a football monopoly, although not in those words, and that consumers have been duped into paying much higher prices than they should have in order to enjoy the official football licenses. When NFL 2K5 released, it sold for only $19.99. Madden from the same year, however, sold for $49.99.
Here's the legalese within the notice:
GEOFFREY PECOVER and ANDREW OWENS v. ELECTRONIC ARTS INC.
U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal. – Oakland Div.)
Case No. 08-cv-02820 CW
If You Purchased Certain Electronic Arts Brand Football Video Games Between January 1, 2005 to the Present You May Be a Class Member.
Membership as a class member in the Electronic Arts Litigation is the result of a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Oakland Division (Case No. 08-cv-02820 CW).
What Is This Class Action About?
The class action lawsuit alleges violations of California's antitrust and consumer protection laws in connection with the sale of certain football video games. 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.
The suit goes on, of course, and offers class members a way to opt out. And that's, quite frankly, something I'm entirely to lazy to do.
Odds are, you're probably a potential member of a suit that will, in all likelihood, go nowhere. EA's return statement denies the monopolizing allegations made by the plaintiffs in this suit. Don't expect that to change anytime soon.
See the plaintiff side of the case at EASportsLitigation.com.