24 Jul 2012
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EA monopoly lawsuit passes Go

By Brendan Kelly

A settlement has been reached by EA and customers in a lawsuit alleging that EA and its partners were holding a monopoly.

The lawsuit claimed that EA had violated antitrust and consumer protection laws by overcharging consumers for games involving the NFL, NCAA and AFL.

Anyone who has played an American football game knows that EA is the only company with the licenses for the teams in the above leagues; other developers have to make do with fictional teams and players.

The case was originally filed in 2008, and the proposed settlement will establish a $27 million fund for anybody who purchased a Madden NFL, NCAA Football or AFL game published by EA since 2005.

Although the settlement is yet to be approved, if it goes through consumers will be able to claim money back – if you own a last-gen version of the above franchises you can expect up to $6.79 back, whereas current gen titles are worth up to $1.95. It’s not exactly winning the lottery.

More excitingly, the settlement also bars EA from signing an exclusive deal with the AFL for five years and from renewing the current agreement with the NCAA, which expires in 2014.

This means that there might finally be a developer willing to challenge EA with a decent attempt at a football simulator. Although the Madden series is fantastic, the majority of content is unlocked with cash and games between friends can quickly become a fight to see who has the deepest pockets.

Attorney Steven Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, has represented consumers throughout the case and says this settlement is a fair conclusion.

"After more than four years of hard-fought litigation, we have reached a settlement that we strongly believe is fair to consumers. We look forward to moving this process forward and asking the court to approve the settlement.”

Cleverly, EA has still managed to retain the rights to their most lucrative deal, the exclusive license to the NFL – you can’t win ‘em all.

What do you think? Does EA hold a monopoly? Let us know your comments below.

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