In June 2008, two men filed a lawsuit in California District Court alleging that EA’s exclusive contract with the NFL for football videogames constituted a monopoly under state and federal laws. The suit also contended that EA illegally raised the price of its Madden NFL game once its exclusivity agreement eliminated the competition -- namely, 2K Sports’ NFL 2K5, which, by launching at $19.95 in August 2004 against Madden NFL 2005 at $49.95, had forced EA to drop Madden’s price to $29.95 in November. (EA launched Madden NFL 06 in August 2005 at $49.95 on PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube, which accounts for the price increase of “nearly 70 percent” that the suit -- which you can read in full here [PDF] -- mentions.)
The petitioners filed the suit as a class-action on behalf of anyone who has purchased an EA football videogame -- including NCAA Football and Arena Football games as well as Madden titles -- released for consoles or PC (which excludes mobile releases) since August 2005. That covers a bunch of people, and thanks to U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker, the class-action lawsuit can now move forward. Walker certified the suit yesterday and appointed Hagens Berman (the law firm that originally filed the complaint) as co-counsel for the participants in the suit, which will likely result in a jury trial pitting the class-action claimants against EA.
So if you fall under the purview of the class-action, what does this mean for you? Hagens Berman has set up a webpage for claimants to join the suit here; by doing so, you may be entitled to rewards or damages awarded to the plaintiffs if the class-action filers prevail in court. And that might amount to a lot of money, collectively. As Steve Berman, managing partner at the firm, put it, “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.”
In case you were wondering, this isn’t the only Madden-related class-action lawsuit that EA is facing; this September, in an unrelated action, 6,000 retired NFL players sued EA claiming that the company unfairly used their likenesses in Madden NFL 09.
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