Electronic Arts faces a class action anti-trust lawsuit that claims the company raised the price of Madden NFL video games after it obtained exclusive rights to the NFL license.
The lawsuit covers any Madden NFL title released during or after 2005. Any American consumer that bought one of the games during this period is able to register as a plaintiff. The main allegation being that once EA acquired the exclusive license, prices were then inflated as much as 70 percent.
This acknowledges that Take-Two's NFL2K5 was sold at a budget price in 2004 ($19.95) and EA was forced into a price war where Madden NFL 2005 was sold for a more competitive price of $29.95.
EA's lawyers are expected to argue that the subsequent rise in price after the exclusive deal was simply a return to previous industry standard pricing ($49.99). The question of EA's use of the license as unfair competition is only a secondary issue for the plaintiffs.
Lawyer Steve Berman had the following to say about the suit:
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.
We believe EA forced consumers to pay an artificial premium on Madden NFL videogames. 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.
As a gamer who loved Take-Two's NFL games, I wish the NFL had never signed an exclusive deal with one company. The NBA and NHL games seem to thrive with two competing franchises each year, I wish the NFL games could return to this as well.