Fans of EA’s Madden, NCAA, and Arena League football franchises are collectively involved in a lawsuit against the developer.
If you’ve purchased a Madden game between 2005 and today, you are now officially suing EA. A California judge has recognized a “class” of plaintiffs composed of all Madden customers, and the ruling allows the original plaintiffs to proceed with an anti-trust lawsuit (Pecover V. Electronic Arts, Inc.) against the Madden NFL developer.
The lawsuit essentially claims that EA was able to create a virtual football monopoly that allowed them to overcharge for their various football products. Or, to be more specific, the suit alleges that, “Defendant Electronic Arts entered into a series of exclusive licenses with the National Football League, 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.”
The plaintiff class includes anyone who purchased any version of Madden NFL, NCAA Football, or Arena Football League since January 1, 2005, although fans have until June 25
to opt out of the litigation on the plaintiff’s website. People who bought the game used, bought it for a mobile platform, or purchased directly from EA are excluded from the suit, as are customers who happen to be EA employees.
While the judge has allowed the lawsuit to proceed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the plaintiffs are going to win. In fact, I don’t like the plaintiffs’ chances. A Madden game goes for the same price as every other AAA title, so it’ll be tough to prove that EA has been overcharging customers. Should the plaintiffs win, however, every member of the class is entitled to a portion of the settlement.
As for me, I haven’t purchased a Madden game since around 2003, but something about this lawsuit still makes me uncomfortable. I just don’t like the idea that my name could be dragged into a lawsuit without my prior knowledge or consent, and – regardless of your take on Madden – I’m not sure when ‘dissatisfied customer’ became the default legal position.