A settlement for the class-action lawsuit against EA Sports has been preliminarily approved. Electronic Arts' exclusive license to college-sanctioned American football games with the NCAA Football series may be nearing its end, though a Fairness Hearing could still change the details of the settlement or throw it out entirely.
The preliminary approval, filed October 5 and posted today by darkzero, means the long-brewing suit will see trial. The suit itself alleges the sports gaming giant ran competitors out of the American football gaming market with exclusive agreements with the NFL, NCAA, and the Arena Football League, then used its monopoly to charge unfair prices for the licensed products.
The current conditions of the settlement include EA paying out more than $27 million dollars to purchasers who sign onto the lawsuit, with total payouts to those who sign on depending upon which games were purchased.
More significantly, the settlement also stipulates EA may not pursue exclusive contracts to create games for either the AFL or the NCAA for five years after its current contracts expire. More details can be found on the case's website.
EA officially responded to the claims by saying there is no set market to monopolize for league-licensed football games, that it legally won the contended exclusive contracts through competitive bidding, and that it did not overcharge for its games.
The Fairness Hearing, the next step in the legal process, will be held on February 7, 2013. Consumers who purchased any Madden NFL, NCAA Football, or Arena Football League game from January 2005 to June 2012 have until December 10 to opt out or object to the suit.