EA Agrees to Settlement in Antitrust Suit

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EA Agrees to Settlement in Antitrust Suit

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EA has agreed to give up NCAA exclusivity for five years and pay out a potential $27 million to wronged customers.

EA's unrivaled dominance of the American Football sim market may be coming to an end. According to attorneys representing consumers in a class-action antitrust lawsuit that began back in 2008, the publisher has agreed to go five years without exclusive control of the NCAA and AFL licenses, and a $27 million payout for consumers.

The class-action suit alleged that EA successfully created a football game monopoly. Back in 2004, Take-Two Interactive had grown tired of playing second fiddle to EA and its Madden series The publisher's last football title, ESPN NFL Football had sold a less-than-impressive 450,000 copies. Take-Two's next title, NFL 2K5, was released at a $20 price point and went on to sell more than 2.9 million copies in the US. To remain competitive, EA lowered the price of Madden 2005 from $50 to $30. Shortly after, EA signed exclusive deals with the NFL, NCAA and AFL, meaning Take-Two had no official backing for its football titles, and thus, no series. EA then released Madden 2006 at a $50 price point.

Under the terms of the settlement, EA will let its current agreement with the NCAA lapse in 2014. It also can't sign or renew exclusive deals with either the NCA or the AFL for at least five years. The publisher may also have to hand over some cash to gamers who bought its hand-egg titles. Consumers who bought an EA football title for the GameCube, PS2 or Xbox could be entitled up to $6.79 a game, while those who bought a current-generation football game from the publisher could claim up to $1.95 a game.

The proposed settlement was filed with the court last week, and EA has apparently agreed, but it still must be approved before it can be made final.

Source: IGN

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Oh yeah... I remember this. Well, good. I'm not a sports game fan, but I recognize this as a good thing.

So is there no change to the Madden series? It sounds like only NCAA and the Arena football league will become non-exclusive...

If that's the case, that makes me sad. I love the Madden series and still buy them when enough has changed (for example, I skipped 12 for having no changes to the online franchise) but the quality of the titles have slipped. It's much easier for EA to allow Madden to stay in the slip if another company's football game isn't nipping at the heel.

Also, InB4 the "sport games, who cares!?!? they're just roster updates every year!!!" silly people who always appear

The problem is, it's still just football. The same game rehashed every year. Spice it up with cyborgs, robots or zero gravity.

I don't get it. They were sued for handling the business well and taking over the market?

Lumber Barber:
I don't get it. They were sued for handling the business well and taking over the market?

No, they were sued for alleged anti-competitive actions. Monopolies are bad for markets. They lower competition, raise prices and discourage innovation. That's why we have commissions in place to ensure they don't occur, but they still do.

I'm not sure if EA's actions are completely anti-competitive. As Nuclear Shadow pointed out, it's perfectly possible to create a good football game without an official license. But it appears the suit had enough of a case that EA is willing to settle.

What does it say about the franchise when you can easily release the next version for 20 dollars cheaper when someone else makes a new one?

It says monopolies are bad.

I don't get it. Hasn't EA been doing this for even longer with the soccer game market? It's why PES can't use the official team names etc, am I right? What makes this different?

I agree with TheBobmus, no one does anything about the FIFA series. Maybe it's because Americans just don't really care about "soccer", but a little consistency would be nice from any legal system.

tippy2k2:
Also, InB4 the "sport games, who cares!?!? they're just roster updates every year!!!" silly people who always appear

008Zulu:
The problem is, it's still just football. The same game rehashed every year. Spice it up with cyborgs, robots or zero gravity.

Tippy called it :)

CardinalPiggles:
Tippy called it :)

Yes, there are those who fear my amazing abilities to read the future but fear not citizens, I will use them for (mostly) good! By the way, keep a close eye on your surroundings on August 19, 2034. You'll thank me later.

As to the FIFA thing, I thought that Winning Eleven (they changed it to Pro Evolution? I must not be paying attention cause I didn't know that) had rights to teams...

Looking at the Wikipedia page, it has rights to certain things (like UEFA and whatnot), which would be my guess why FIFA is allowed to have exclusive rights with MLS. Basically, professional soccer exists in many forms all around the world where football is basically just the NFL and NCAA. While my powers are great, my legal mind is not so great so take this explanation with a grain of salt.

Grey Carter:

Lumber Barber:
I don't get it. They were sued for handling the business well and taking over the market?

No, they were sued for alleged anti-competitive actions. Monopolies are bad for markets. They lower competition, raise prices and discourage innovation. That's why we have commissions in place to ensure they don't occur, but they still do.

I'm not sure if EA's actions are completely anti-competitive. As Nuclear Shadow pointed out, it's perfectly possible to create a good football game without an official license. But it appears the suit had enough of a case that EA is willing to settle.

You'll also notice that the NFL license remained intact, as did the ESPN one. EA did the smart, if not the right thing. They smelled blood in the water, and in a business sense, threw the slowest guy in the party into the water before the sharks started on a feeding frenzy.

All I have to say is, it's about fucking time someone slapped EA down for this crap.

As for the question about EA, PES, and the FIFA license, the answer is quite simple; you have to go pretty far out of your way to find someone in the US who cares enough about soccer to even buy one of those games in the first place.

EA has been buying up licenses for years, then they can shovel out whatever crap they want.

every other sport where they do not have a strangle hold on the licenses, 2k or mlb the show, etc other people make the better games, because EA does not want to put the money into making better games, and if they arent copeting then they do not have to.

i doubt anyone much buys nba live anymore its been a joke for years, but lest they have to try and improve, since nba2k has been seen as clearly better in the past years, fifa and pro soccer, i think i heard that fifa was actually really good this year over pro.

when was the last time ncaa and madden any interation was so vastly improved over the the last it was jawdropping? all the features they rotated in and cut out of madden over the years, the magical merry go round we put this feature in this year we take it out for a few years put it back in as shiney and new and resell it as such.

or has ncaa and nfl just been the same games over and over with roster updates? same price however, cant believe you only get a 1.90 back for this gens.....and how the hell can i even prove i owned lets see madden, nba live all those in a ton of different games from nes, to ps1, i cannot even recall the years and how many i had.

i am glad ea got smacked down score one for the good guys.

I have to agree that this was definitely an anti-competitive move and I am honestly surprised this went on as long as it did.

No matter what football game is objectively the best, whether it be the 2k games, Madden or Backbreaker, Madden will always have the consistent advantage of being able to sell the ability to play as your favorite teams. For many people, that's more than enough.

This is bad for the football game industry.

5 years is a very short time, I'm pretty sure nothing says EA would not be allowed to plan for the big one in that period. And up to only $6.79 per customer? Come on EA, we all know the money pool you guys built in your underground lair.

IMHO, a slap on the wrist for EA.

Shouldnt they not be able to resign exclusive contracts with the leagues? If we are going anti-trust here, that shouldnt be allowed to happen again.

so only NCAA and AFL but not the NFL

so madden will be the only pro football game but 2k can make their own NCAA and AFL games now.

FIFA and PRO EVO will fight each other for best soccer game

NHL by EA is still the best hockey game no hockey games from 2k

NBA live is coming back to fight NBA 2k basketball

EA now owns the rights to UFC games now

MLB the show beats MLB 2k baseball

I am missing any major sports titles??

I'd be happy to see them lose their grip on NFL titles just so other games can come out using NFL stuff without getting sued.

Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

DVS BSTrD:
Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

Unfortunately not trusting them does not make their games un-addictive. There will still be a demographic that snaps up EA games and from Microsoft's example, it's very hard to break a monopoly once it has been established.

Akimoto:

DVS BSTrD:
Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

Unfortunately not trusting them does not make their games un-addictive. There will still be a demographic that snaps up EA games and from Microsoft's example, it's very hard to break a monopoly once it has been established.

It's not hard at all, it's just that nobody who could is going to try. Microsoft probably bought it's way out, but with EA nobody will even care. The people in charge of law don't even know what video games are.

Allthingsspectacular:
I have to agree that this was definitely an anti-competitive move and I am honestly surprised this went on as long as it did.

No matter what football game is objectively the best, whether it be the 2k games, Madden or Backbreaker, Madden will always have the consistent advantage of being able to sell the ability to play as your favorite teams. For many people, that's more than enough.

This is bad for the football game industry.

That's ok. I consider generic sports video games to be shit anyway.
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This is great news! Hopefully they do this for NFL games too. NFL 2k5 still beats any Madden game to date! Don't believe me, check this out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COi3Qer15Og

Just give the game updated graphics and their would be practically nothing that Madden has over NFL 2k5.

Akimoto:

DVS BSTrD:
Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

Unfortunately not trusting them does not make their games un-addictive. There will still be a demographic that snaps up EA games and from Microsoft's example, it's very hard to break a monopoly once it has been established.

It's basically why the idea of the "free market regulating itself." is total bullshit.\

I'm oversimplifying obviously.

DVS BSTrD:

Akimoto:

DVS BSTrD:
Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

Unfortunately not trusting them does not make their games un-addictive. There will still be a demographic that snaps up EA games and from Microsoft's example, it's very hard to break a monopoly once it has been established.

It's not hard at all, it's just that nobody who could is going to try. Microsoft probably bought it's way out, but with EA nobody will even care. The people in charge of law don't even know what video games are.

I should explain that by demographic I meant the kids who should not be buying and playing the games, are I suspect the main target.

It's mostly personal experience, but the ratings do not stop anyone from restricting sales to minors, my younger brother has friends who play 18+ games. They are attracted to the idea of the immediate movie feel and hand-holding flow. My bro was impressed by the graphics mostly and the advertisement campaign of BF3 - it helped that he did not mind me explaining how it was linear, shallow and actually insulting of a gamers' intellect. Great MP play though.

Unless we find a way to teach people how to distinguish the basics of good games, EA and alike companies will get away with selling low quality products.

Off Topic: In fact Microsoft cheats at times. The Business 'N' of Vista was not supposed to be used in South East Asia but during my short time as a backend IT, it was being used.

theultimateend:

Akimoto:

DVS BSTrD:
Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

Unfortunately not trusting them does not make their games un-addictive. There will still be a demographic that snaps up EA games and from Microsoft's example, it's very hard to break a monopoly once it has been established.

It's basically why the idea of the "free market regulating itself." is total bullshit.\

I'm oversimplifying obviously.

Simple is good sometimes. The free market was based on the assumption that human beings are rational and pragmatic. Turned out to be untrue, but than again hindsight is 20/20.

Games don't have the kind of 'professionalism' or global impact that other markets do, so it's unlikely we see any form of regulation.

To bad you can't just sue your way into making sports game relevant. Oh, burned!

Well the story doesn't really interest me that much but it is interesting to see the idea of a monopoly applied to a genera of games. I wonder if other type of games licenses could also have such actions taken against them.

CardinalPiggles:

tippy2k2:
Also, InB4 the "sport games, who cares!?!? they're just roster updates every year!!!" silly people who always appear

008Zulu:
The problem is, it's still just football. The same game rehashed every year. Spice it up with cyborgs, robots or zero gravity.

Tippy called it :)

Yeah, but I had the idea of robots playing the game in a zero gravity environment.

Akimoto:

Simple is good sometimes. The free market was based on the assumption that human beings are rational and pragmatic. Turned out to be untrue, but than again hindsight is 20/20.

Games don't have the kind of 'professionalism' or global impact that other markets do, so it's unlikely we see any form of regulation.

Well the nice thing about the gaming market is that when they fail miserably nobody will bail them out so they'll just die.

I hate to see folks unemployed but it would hopefully spur up new smaller companies.

I know EA's stocks aren't looking the greatest lately >_>.

I think the free market would work if you couldn't manipulate information or push out competition [some places don't really have an alternative to walmart for instance, at least not without a real long drive]. Basically any rant I'd go on would end up with just your simple couple sentences though, so I'll shut the ole trap :P.

008Zulu:

CardinalPiggles:

tippy2k2:
Also, InB4 the "sport games, who cares!?!? they're just roster updates every year!!!" silly people who always appear

008Zulu:
The problem is, it's still just football. The same game rehashed every year. Spice it up with cyborgs, robots or zero gravity.

Tippy called it :)

Yeah, but I had the idea of robots playing the game in a zero gravity environment.

I'm not the target audience but I'll admit I didn't notice the difference the last time I played 2 Madden titles that were a few years apart.

NOT saying there weren't a thousand upgrades, I just didn't notice any of them besides visuals and roster >_>.

So I think its more that people who don't 'get it' just don't notice.

While the money itself is insignificant in recompensation, the enjoyment of taking money back from EA is well worth the cost, even though this train of logic makes no sense whatsoever.

If anyone feels the enjoyment of a game is diminished by the absence of certain names, they're a fool. Brand means nothing here. Utterly pointless.

Clearing the Eye:
If anyone feels the enjoyment of a game is diminished by the absence of certain names, they're a fool. Brand means nothing here. Utterly pointless.

Well then call me a fool.

I think that if say a racing game (like say Colin McRae Rally, F1 2011 or Race 07) doesn't feature the complete roster of cars/teams/drivers of a certain series then it's half-arsed (and me being a perfectionist twit about such things it does diminish my enjoyment. Sure I'm an Audi fan but I'd still want to try and drive the Peugeot 908 HDI FAP).

Im a huge fan of the NHL<year> series but I dont give a monkeys if its got the latest up to date roster for each team with licensed player names and stuff - the first thing I do when I pick up an NHL game is recreate myself then play as myself in the Be a Pro mode, or create my own team and play with whatever players I can get/afford.

Hornet0404:

Clearing the Eye:
If anyone feels the enjoyment of a game is diminished by the absence of certain names, they're a fool. Brand means nothing here. Utterly pointless.

Well then call me a fool.

I think that if say a racing game (like say Colin McRae Rally, F1 2011 or Race 07) doesn't feature the complete roster of cars/teams/drivers of a certain series then it's half-arsed (and me being a perfectionist twit about such things it does diminish my enjoyment. Sure I'm an Audi fan but I'd still want to try and drive the Peugeot 908 HDI FAP).

So they can make the same game (and they are the same games) but without a certain name on the car/shirt, it's not fun? The absence of some letters, ignoring the quality of the product, its gameplay and general feel, etc., ruins your ability to have fun? How... sad. I prefer to enjoy my time with things and not worry which brand they paid to have slapped over the box.

And EA wonders why anyone who knows anything about their brand usually has nothing but contempt for them.

theultimateend:

Akimoto:

DVS BSTrD:
Nobody Trusts EA anymore.

Unfortunately not trusting them does not make their games un-addictive. There will still be a demographic that snaps up EA games and from Microsoft's example, it's very hard to break a monopoly once it has been established.

It's basically why the idea of the "free market regulating itself." is total bullshit.\

I'm oversimplifying obviously.

Yea dam those people who buy stuff that they like and I dont. Why do they have to have things like personal taste and instead just be mindless slaves who only buy what I tell them.

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