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Madden Class-Action Lawsuit: It's About Time, But Where Was the Justice Department to Begin With?

Madden EA Football Class Action Screenshot Screen

An email recently went out to anyone who bought any of Electronic Arts' popular Madden football video games from 2005 until now. The suit, Geoffrey Pecover and Andrew Owens v. Electronic Arts Inc., argues that the exclusive licenses EA signed in 2005 with the NFL, the NFL Players Association, the NCAA and the Arena Football League stifled competition and led consumers to be overcharged for the games EA made using those exclusive licenses. 

It's about time. The deals effectively crushed the competition in the football video game market at the time, including Sega and Take-Two Interactive, which had made the NFL 2K series and offered it at a budget price ($19.95). The lawsuit states that EA drove up the retail price of Madden games, which sold for $29.95 before the deal, to $49.99 after the deal. Madden games, like most other mainstream games these days, now typically sell for $59.99 new. In February, EA and the NFL extended the deal, originally set to expire this year, to 2013. 

Not only did the deal stifle competition, it stifled innovation. The last Madden game I bought was in 2009; it was much like the 2008, 2007 and 2006 versions. The mantra at EA seems to be: Add one new feature and correct a few flaws from the previous year's version -- new this year: Control your lead blocker in the run game! No thanks. I'd rather just be able to update my rosters online and keep playing the same game, though EA makes that ridiculously hard to do -- not to mention it disables the online servers for previous year's version soon after the new version comes out. 

My question is: Where has the U.S. Justice Department been in all of this? It was clear from the outset that competition -- and innovation -- were going to suffer. That's right, I forgot. Justice staffers were too busy justifying snatch-and-grab, rendition and waterboarding tactics and launching politicized investigations into federal attorneys who were trying to ensure voting rights for all. AT&T hints at buying T-Mobile, and a full investigation is launched. Those issues are certainly more important than the rights of the millions of consumers who've been forced to settle for one measly form of entertainment. It would behoove the government to focus on these issues rather than the mind-numblingly stupid question of whether children should be banned from buying games (the First Amendment settles that argument). 

Hopefully any settlement we Madden buyers get isn't something like "$5 off your next purchase from EA." I don't want another EA game. I'm done with EA. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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