Madden Price-Gouging Suit Certified by Judge

EA’s not having much of a holiday. First, they were sued by a group of college athletes alleging that EA illegally used their likenesses in football titles. Then, they were added to a $400 million lawsuit filed against former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella. Now, a U.S. District judge has certified a class-action anti-trust lawsuit against the publisher that alleges EA has used its NFL licenses to artificially increase the price of its Madden NFL games.

According to Hagens Berman (the firm representing the suit) partner Steve Berman,

We believe EA forced consumers to pay an artificial premium on Madden NFL video games. 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.

You can read the full complaint in PDF form here. In particular, it cites the pricing battle between NFL 2K5 and Madden NFL 2005. With NFL 2K5 retailing at $19.95, Madden was reduced to a price of only $29.95 by November of that year.

Right after that, EA signed their exclusive agreement with the NFL. Since then, the Madden games have retailed at the same price point as other high-profile titles. According to the complaint, this is due solely to the licensing agreements.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I think this suit has a pretty steep hill to climb. It would be a lot easier if EA wasn’t selling these games for the same price as every other sports game, including 2K’s NBA series. Of course, you never know what may happen in a courtroom, so we’ll have to wait and see.

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