Madden NFL 13: EA Sports Settles Consumer Lawsuit on Pricing
According to a recent court filing, a consumer suit against the sports simulation giant EA Sports appears to be headed to final resolution. Nobody likes lawsuits and if you are a big-name brand like EA Sports, you’d probably want this quickly behind you.
The lawsuit alleges that EA Sports’ exclusive licensing deal with the NFL forced up the price of the very popular football simulation game “Madden NFL” series. This is not a trivial lawsuit. It was filed in accordance with existing laws against antitrust and anticompetitive corporate practices. People have to remember that these laws were put into place to prevent large companies from milking consumers dry by either colluding or pulling off other shenanigans that keep prices high and product quality and selection low. The suit alleges that by locking the NFL into an exclusive deal, there is less competition since it locked them out of NFL licensed games and this drives up the price of the Madden NFL football simulation video game.
Thankfully, EA Sports and its parent, EA, the second-biggest US video games publisher and the plaintiffs’ legal team have come to a “settlement in principle.” Both sides have filed paperwork with the court stating that they intend to wrap up the details of the settlement agreement within 45 days. The antitrust lawsuit was filed on behalf of all buyers of Madden NFL in 2008. The suit alleges that by entering into an exclusive rights agreement with the NFL, the deal drove out competitors which enabled EA to jack up the price of their highly popular football simulator by 70 percent. The exact details of the proposed settlement has not been released to the public. Keep in mind that while the lawsuit is on behalf of consumers, just like in the case of most class-action lawsuits, it is the lawyers who get large payoffs.
The plaintiff class is often given very little money per head. Still, class action lawsuits vindicate consumer rights and enable lawyers to protect those rights even if the minimal individual damages act as a disincentive for individuals protecting their rights on their own.