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EA Sued Over NFL Exclusivity Rights

Boy, when gamers get pissed...

According to GameSpot, two gamers in Washington, DC and California have filed a lawsuit against Electronic Arts in the US District Court of Northern California, claiming EA released a "blatantly anticompetitive product" due to the fact that the publisher holds exclusive rights to have NFL-licensed material in their games. Competitor 2K Sports from Take-Two Interactive suffered most when this happened, and EA made the exclusive deal to compete with a lower-priced 2K Sports product back in 2004. At that time, NFL 2K5 presented gamers with an attractive $19.99 price tag and ended up selling almost 3 million copies ini the US. At the same time, EA dropped the price of Madden 2005 to $29.99 to compete and then made the next step, which was securing exclusive NFL rights. Here's a snippet from the suit:

"This vigorous competition benefited consumers. 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."

Of course, Take-Two didn't issue a competitor in 2006 and EA put the price of Madden 2006 back to the standard $49.99. Furthermore, if any of you are wondering, EA's continued pursuit of Take-Two was mentioned in the suit, as one statement says if EA purchased Take-Two, this "would remove one of the few companies with the ability and expertise to compete in the market for interactive football software." What do the plaintiffs want? Well, simple- they want restitution and damages on behalf of everyone who bought an EA-published football game since August of 2005. Now, we're not entirely sure if they have a case, here, but it'll be interesting to see what comes of this. It's true that more than a few gamers didn't like the idea of EA landing exclusive NFL rights for their titles, and now, over three years later, it has come to this.

Wonder what EA's legal fees are going to be for this fiscal year...

6/11/2008 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (12 posts)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 @ 10:22:13 PM

Sucks for them, and fu** them. EA deserves this yes, but the fu***** morons that sue are sueing for money, They don't hold my vote at all, they can lose... I side with EA on this one.

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John Shoemaker
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 @ 10:26:17 PM

They might have a better chance if they call EA's NFL partnership a monopoly.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008 @ 10:30:25 PM

It is a monopoly but that wont do mutch... EA paid for those rights and all that exclusivity. So it's just like they bought NFL's gaming world and they are the only ones that can give rights to other people, it's like THEY made NFL... Except in a game world. They hold the rights.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 2:28:55 AM

At least EA deserve to get sued good luck guys

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 3:29:46 AM

I think i know what these guys are doing.
They don't have a case really. But it's gonna cost EA to knock em back.
It's a way of holding them back a little.
Now, if enough other people found other things to sue EA over, EA'd be hurting really bad.

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SHADOW [Moderator]
Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 4:22:30 AM

Alright here are the facts. In 2004 EA released Madden 2005 at $50. Soon afterwards take to released NFL 2K5 at $20. In response EA lowers the price of Madden to $30. Through all this Take 2 was losing money on its football franchise. (Actually they are losing money on their basketball franchise too, 2009 will be the last 2k basketball game.) In December of 2004 the NFL approached EA about an exclusive license (note: this is a fact. EA didn't approach the NFL). In January of 2005 EA secured the exclusiv rights to the Arena football league. Then in April of 2005 EA secured exclusive rights to NCAA football. Madden 2006 was released back at the $50 price.

In a matter of less than a year EA was able to kill off any viable football competition. (Though they didn't systematically seek out all of those licenses.) And then raised the price of there flagship game by 70%.

I decided to compare the ratings of Madden titles from 1999 to 2004 vs 2005 to now. I used Gamespot and IGN ratings (id have used Meta critic but it wasn't around in 99). I also used only the best scoring platform for the averages. In 1999 it was N64, in 2000 PS1 in 2007 it was XBox 360.

Madden 2000-2005 achieved an average of 9.233. Madden 2006-2008 achieved an average of 8.516. So after the exclusive license came in EA was charging us the same price (more now) for a game that was worse than its predacessors. This at the very least shows that EA stopped working as hard to provide a good product after the competition was eliminated.

This lawsuit probably will fail. But to say it has zero merit which many (not here) are saying is ludicrous. EA killed off its competition and then began selling a product that wasn't as good. I'm sure that almost qualifies as breaking some sort of law.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 5:14:58 AM

@shadow I never heard that 2k was losing money on their basketball franchise. That's the best simulation basketball game out the past few years.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 6:03:25 AM

just because a game scored lower you cannot say EA didnt work as hard... since 2005 it would of been on 360, so now u have to add things like online play onto the game, maybe the overall score of the game was affected because the online play wasnt up to scratch. i remember gamespot gave soul calibar a 10 years ago.. dosnt mean that it was an amazing game, it was the 1st game on the dreamcast so compared to all the ps1 games it looked amazing, by time ps2 game out, it didnt look that great. this kind of thing happens all the time i duno why their sueing, if take two had the better product it wouldnt matter ppl would still play the game. this is proved in europe. EA has all the rights to football games ( soccer for u yanks ) yet pro evoultion soccer series from konomai alwayz does better, and sells alot more games, even tho it has struggled with rights for years, with all the team names being fake team names and players names being fake, everyone still plays PES as its the better product.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 11:05:23 AM

I have no clue why anyone would side with EA on this tatsujin...try not to hate okay...jealousy is a dumb ones tool. As far as I'm concerned Cavan, 2K was the waaaaay better football game to begin with. And to say we should still be playing a game 4 years old is stretching it. I'm sure alot of us rocked 2k5 for an extra couple of years but it's just too outdated now. All Pro Football 2k8 proves that here, us "yanks" need our real teams and current players to fully enjoy a football simulation game. EA ruined video game football for all of us that grew tired of madden putting out the same product for the same high price year after year. EA continued to prove they were greedy, lazy fleas and just to rub it in they immediately went back to 50$ after competition was put to rest(now 59$). I know this lawsuit will go nowhere but I'm glad to hear someone besides myself has had enough of this EA Madden shit! GOOD FOR YOU

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 1:22:42 PM

what the hell are you guys talking about, i am confused????????????

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 7:36:43 PM

Me too... Where did this EA History class come from :P

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Friday, June 13, 2008 @ 11:49:54 AM

About time!!! they so have a case.Now to have Sega sue EA for basically the same thing! EA-" We will not be making any games for the Sega Dreamcast" Which during the time that had like control over the market.EA had their greedy hands in just about everyones pudding.You want to see questionable history? just look at microsoft too.

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