EA is accused of artificially inflating the prices of its football games, as well as hedging out any competition through licensing deals.
A California judge has given the go-ahead for a class action anti-trust suit against EA filed over two years ago, over allegations that the publisher engaged in illegal price fixing for the Madden NFL series. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker decided that the suit should move forward earlier this week.
The suit says that following the release of ESPN NFL 2K5 at a budget price of just $20, EA charged just $30 for Madden NFL 05 in order to stay compettive. But when EA gained the exclusive rights to the NFL brand, prices for the Madden games went back up to sixty dollars. While EA’s lawyers will likely argue that it was merely returning prices to what the levels they were at before the release of ESPN NFL2K5, but the suit asserts that EA used its exclusive deals with the NFL to force consumers to pay an artificially high price for certain sports titles.
It also claims that EA – knowing how important an official license was for sports games – used its deals with the AFL and NCAA to prevent anyone from making a competing product based around a different football association or league. The suit calls for EA to pay restitution to those affected, as well as punitive damages.
Anyone who bought a branded NFL, AFL or NCAA game produced and published by Electronic Arts at any point after August 2005 is eligible to join the suit. It only applies to home console releases however, and not any similar games that came out on mobile devices. If you meet the criteria and want to join the suit, you can sign up here.