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