EA Being Sued by Gamers Over Football Exclusivity
2004 was a great year for sports games. NFL 2K5 and NBA 2K5 were some of the best sports game ever created (that remains true to this day) and they were sold for only $20. That put some pretty significant pressure on EA Sports, which responded in the football market by dropping the price of that year’s Madden from $50 to $30. NFL 2K5 managed to sell over 2.9 million copies in the US, according to the NPD Group, and ever since — once EA locked up exclusivity with the NFL, NCAA and Arena Football League, some would argue that EA has had little incentive to innovate or drop the price on its football titles.
That trend isn’t about to end, either. Last year, 2K Sports put out All-Pro Football 2K8 which sold poorly without the help of a significant football license. (The game wasn’t great either — it was basically NFL 2K5 sans the NFL license.)
Two gamers — one from Washington, DC and one from California — have had enough of this and filed a class-action lawsuit against EA over “blatantly anticompetitive conduct.”
“This vigorous competition benefited consumers,” reads the lawsuit. “Electronic Arts could have continued to compete by offering a lower price and/or a higher quality product. Instead, Electronic Arts quickly entered into a series of exclusive agreements with the only viable sports football associations in the United States: the National Football League, the Arena Football League, and NCAA Football.”
Even if EA didn’t have the licenses, though, their potential takeover of Take-Two would essentially eliminate any and all competition in the football market. In doing so, the lawsuit says that even if EA were to lose its exclusivity deals, it “would remove one of the few companies with the ability and expertise to compete in the market for interactive football software.”
The lawsuit is seeking restitution and damages for individuals who have purchased EA football games since August 2005 (ring me up for three of those), as well as disgorgement (that’s a fancy word for “give up”) of all profits made as a result of their anticompetitive actions, and that any infringing agreements be declared null and void.
The likelihood of those events ever occurring is incredibly low, but I do enjoy thinking of a world where the NFL 2K games are still alive.
via Evil Avatar