Anti-trust lawsuit filed over Madden

Class-action suit says Electronic Arts violated California law

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Electronic Arts has held the exclusive rights to publish games with the NFL license since 2004, but all that may change with a recent lawsuit filed over the game developer’s Madden series. Law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro claims that the NFL exclusivity deal hurts consumers and makes it difficult for other developers to release competitive products, and are filing a class action lawsuit against EA on anti-trust grounds.

Select gamers started receiving emailed notices regarding the suit on Wednesday, though anyone who “purchased the Madden NFL, NCAA Football or Arena Football League brand videogames published by Electronic Arts with a release date of January 1, 2005, to the present,” is eligible to join the suit and may receive compensation depending on how things shake out.

Those hoping to join shouldn’t get their hopes up, says popular games industry analyst and multiple law degree-holder Michael Pachter.  “I think that the suit is idiotic, and would bet it’s dismissed,” said Pachter to Wired.

Exclusivity agreements for various licenses and intellectual property are commonplace in the games industry, though EA’s NFL deal is perhaps the most lucrative. Madden hasn’t faced a serious contender since 2004’s NFL 2K5 debuted at $20.

The announcement for the class action lawsuit follows another Madden-related lawsuit recently filed by Robin Antonick, the creator of the first Madden football game. Antonick is seeking tens of millions of dollars in royalties from EA.

Apr 7, 2011

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