Gamer Class-action Suit Filed Against EA Over Madden Monopoly

A pair of gamers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Electronic Arts over its exclusive licensing deal with the NFL.

Madden owners Geoffrey Pecover of Washington, D.C. and Jeffrey Lawrence of California are the named plaintiffs in the class-action, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California.

The suit, which essentially follows a line of reasoning laid out by GP, describes how EA, faced with competition from Take-Two’s excellent NFL 2K5, reduced the price of Madden from $49.99 to $29.99 in order to stay competitive with NFL 2K5, which was aggressively priced at $19.99. From the lawsuit:

By signing the exclusive agreement with the NFL, Electronic Arts immediately killed off Take Two’s NFL 2K5 software, the only competing interactive football product of comparable quality to its Madden franchise…


Once again without a competitor Electronic Arts raised its prices dramatically… nearly seventy percent to $49.95

The suit also notes EA’s ongoing campaign to acquire Take-Two:

A successful takeover of Take-Two Interactive by Electronic Arts would remove one of the few companies with the ability  and expertise to compete in the market for interactive football software in the event that the Electronic Arts exclusive agreements were terminated or voided by a court.

Two law firms appear to be involved on the plaintiffs’ side at this point: Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and The Paynter Law Firm. Both are experienced in class action suits.

Read the complaint here

Via: Gamespot

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  1. w_herren says:

    My problem with the game which I have been playing since its inception is that it will not work properly.  I play a "franchise" game in Madden that lets me control my own team or pick a fantasy new team with the NFL players.  To me this is absolute heaven.  I can play for hours (typical gamer.)  For some reason though the game freezes during game play or moving from different screens in the game during loading.  I personally cannot get through the pre-season.  I cannot play the game I paid for.


    I had the same problem with the 2007 edition.  Even after the patches I downloaded that were suppose to fix it.  Thinking that EA was learning the next-gen software I gave them a mulligan.  I figured for their grand 20th year edition and over two years to test and fix the problems I would be able to enjoy one of my great pleasures.  Two hours into playing franchise and it froze.  When the game freezes I actually have to shut down my system manually because all the controls freeze as well.


    Thinking maybe even it was my fault or to eliminate my own suspicions I took my ps3 back to BestBuy and they replaced it with an 80 gig top of the line band new system.  3 hours into game play and it freezes.  I returned the game to gamestop and got a switched out copy.  2 hours in, freeze.  Looking online into the forums I see many many many others just like me.


    Maybe I am to blame for buying the inferior product again, but I have no other game to buy with the NFL players.  The licensing with EA and the NFL is strictly business.  I understand that.  To tell you the truth though I thought EA was being sued over the faulty software.  EA probally will not lose but at least they were given a headache.  EA will never get my money again but I guess $60s is nothing to $1 billion.

  2. PigSkinKing says:

    You guys miss the point.   I wonder if some of you are even football gamers.    No, having exclusive rights to players names and NFL teams don’t prohibit game developers to make good football games, but realistically, the demographics of typical football video game players won’t touch it but a few.  Thats just part of the experience, the fantasy that you want to play your favorite player on your favorite team – period.

    Don’t tell me that those guys on that ESPN tv show playing "Madden" would be playing Madden if it didn’t have their favorite players and teams – the ones that are emblazed on the very jerseys those guys wear on the show.

    You could make an amazing and fun football game and if it doesn’t have the names and teams you root for, on a whole, – it would never seriously compete.  EA has strategically targeted this and pushed everyone else out.  I don’t know if it is technically illegal, maybe the case is a little too ambigous – but ethically and in the spirit of things,  its very uncool.


  3. Anonymous says:

    1. i have a PS3. I owned a 360 and they died on me 6 times..

    2. I played the demo. Demo = Gold or near Gold.


  4. Tye The Czar says:

    That is all I have to say. And win. I hope other big monopolies get the treatment too. I’m looking at you IGN owner Murd[er]doch.


  5. ecco6t9 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What these morons need to realize is that EA has several sports locked up including Nascar. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good lord is this silly.  EA is not breaking ANY laws whatsoever.  If you dont like the Madden games, purchase another football game, period.  This is not a monopoly situation as the EA/NFL deal does not stop anyone from making a football game and bringing it to market.  This is clearly, and purely, a licensing deal.  People here screaming that EA is the scourge of the games industry are overreacting .  If you don’t like their games, don’t buy them, period.  And I would bet that most everyone here owns an EA game published over the last year or so.

    As for the price increase, the game is now priced in line with the rest of the market.  It’s not as if they are suddenly charging $150 for the game.  If anything, the NFL2K series was underpricing them to compete.  EA responded.  Welcome to capitalism!  If you feel you are getting ripped off, don’t but the game!  How difficult is that?  If enough people stop purchasing the game, EA will respond. 

    As for the stupid lawsuit, I hope it gets thrown nout and these 2 whiners have to pay EA’s legal fees.

  7. BravO))) says:

    He is playing the beta, not a demo.  Anything that he plays now still can be changed big time.  Please understand the difference before you say that.

  8. Anonymous says:

     a demo is simply a demo! Who cares anyways? As I said, Activision and Ubisoft are no different in every single thing they do compared to EA. You all are just whining little people jumping on a bandwagon talking about crap you just hear. If you want to talk about EA, at least for the time being they are coming out with new IPs such as Dead Space and Army of Two. They helped to publish Rock Band to get it out on shelves. Who do you all think EA is? You all are clueless. I see nothing good or bad about EA. They are game company. Like there games or not, its immature to hold such a deep grudge against them.

  9. Corey says:

    Well I guess if we as gamers only want to buy licensed games, we are going to have to deal with license owners. Most licensed games are exclusive. Movie based games like Ironman are always sold as exclusives although it would be nice to take my pick of Ironman games from seven or eight different companies. There is simply no law that states a corporation has to sell its intellectual properties to anyone who is interested. I’m not sure why they don’t sell to more companies but my suspicion is that EA is paying the NFL more excess money to keep the license exclusive than Take Two was generating in games sales. Maybe instead of attacking EA, gamers and football fans should be petitioning the NFL for selling exclusive game rights. But I still believe there is no monopoly here. Anyone can make football games they just can’t use NFL names. Just like anyone can make a superhero game about a man in a robotic suit. They just can’t call it Ironman. Just like anyone can make a racing game. But they cant use NASCAR or Formula One. Actually that was a good example. If unlicensed racing games like Grand Turismo, Mario Kart, and Burnout can compete with EA’s NASCAR games, then why can’t companies make best selling unlicensed football games?

  10. TJLK says:

    As a lifetime NFL fan I must say that Madden never was my favorite football game.  I did honestly prefer the cheaper and funner NFL 2K games.  What do they do to Madden every year to make it worth $50?  Increase polycount?  Update the names, numbers and statistical information, add a few new players and coaches?  Good job, but that isn’t worth $50.  I see it as EA abusing their consumer with overpriced games.  I wouldn’t mind if they put a lot of effort and time into bringing us a better Madden every year but dude… cut us a break.  Its the same game every year!

  11. Gray-17 says:

    Technically speaking there is a monopoly, it’s just that it happens to be a legally permissable one.

  12. Mortium ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Games Workshop re-publishes Blood Bowl every few years. It’s one of their "specialist games".  We are about due for another re-printing….

  13. Anonymous says:

    See it could be looked at as an monopoly due to the fact that no other company can use official NFL football teams and players. Any company can make their own GTA, hence Saint Row.

  14. -Jes- ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The PUBLIC DEMO has been out on XBL for quite some time now..

    His point is very much valid.

  15. Ken ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That’s what EA did when they had the Maddel deal. They effectively eliminated all competition, especially the much better and cheaper NFL 2K games.

  16. SolidSnark says:

    This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.  There is no NFL "monopoly".  The NFL owns the rights to it’s name and can license it to whoever they want.

    The morons who filed this suit should be forced to pay the court costs so that tax payers aren’t funding their hissy fit.

  17. Aliasalpha says:


    But are people not buying those games because they aren’t into whacky & over the top anymore or because people went through the "Oh my god, this has got Jerry Rice on the cover!!" phase & then companies only want to make licenced stuff now because thats what the demographcs indicate that people have been buying?

    If you want an over the top football game, have a look at Blood Bowl, that’s looking like it’ll be really good. It”s a bit of a risky premise, licencing a board game which was of relatively low popularity (As far as I can tell, it’d not being made anymore) with weird teams of orcs, goblins, humans, elves & the like and turning it into game where you can play either an action football game or playing it as a board game. It’s risky, adventurous & has the potential to capture a really big audience if it’s done right. Much like what EA used to do. Here’s hoping it doesn’t end up sucking…

    I do agree that EA suck nowdays though, I can count on one hand the number of EA games I’ve gotten since they changed to their current logo


    Edit: Meant to reply higher up, added reference to who the hell I was talking to

  18. GdRobotUs says:

    The problem is, the Freedom if Speech also includes the Freedom of Silence.

    EA may charge $50 for a game, but they are not compelling you to buy it.

    I’m not well clued enough on American civil law to guess how this will go, but I will be watching with interest.

  19. Uh... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Why can’t we go back to the good old days? Because people aren’t buying those types of games, which makes this suit relevant. Its not the fact that EA solely acquired the NFL licence, but what does matter are the effects that acquisition, and subsequent use of price manipulation in order to eliminate competition, has over the market. The nature of the suit dives deeper into EA’s anti-competitive tactics against the rest of the console-game industry, like Take-Two. These kids may get that legal beating of a lifetime, but I hope they do win, or at least raise public awareness of what EA is really doing in the name of business.

    Someone mentioned this before, and I have to agree… EA is the scum of the gaming industry.

  20. Anonymous says:

    He’d likely be along the lines of "Once EA buys Take Two it won’t matter" Since, well, he knows for a fact that EA will buy Take Two and there is no other outcome.


  21. Corey says:

    Having a license does not give EA monopoly power over the football videogame market. Any company can make football games and compete with Madden. This would be the equivalent of gamers suing Nintendo because they are the only company with exclusive rights to make Mario games. Or suing Rockstar because they own the rights to make games with Grand Theft Auto in the title. Owning the NFL team names and players in no way prevents any other company from making great football games. Dennis appears to have the idea that NFL licensed football games are an entire industry in and of themselves. Any and all companies have a right to make products to compete with Madden. It’s just that none of them have yet succeeded. As much as we would all like to see the NFL license its name to multiple companies, they have a right to sell it exclusively to whoever they want. They can choose not to sell it at all if they don’t want to. EA’s buyout of Take Two may violate antitrust laws but their deal with the NFL is completely within legal boundaries. I do believe these gamers suing EA are about to get the legal bludgeoning of a lifetime.

    Why cant we go back to the good old days when most sports games were not licensed and they came up with unique leagues and over the top characters. If someone would make a whacky over the top football game with great gameplay and memorable characters I would absolutely consider making a purchase. I’m actually getting quite tired of this desire to make videogames more "realistic." A license is nice to have but I truly believe it is completely unnecessary to excel in the football games market.      

  22. SeanB says:

    I bet the gamers had to lie through thier teeth to even get the lawyers to listen to them. There is nothing illegal going on here.

    I want to hear Overlawyered’s point of view on this.

  23. Zero Beat ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m not so sure this is actionable, but the current situation isn’t good for gamers that like these games.  Hopefully something can prevent such deals in the future, but I think this situation might be legal, unfortunately.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t a monopoly.  If I remember correctly Take Two created a football game this year with former NFL players.  It was interesting and did pretty well.

  25. Iwa ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Whoops, didn’t properly finish the sentence for the TakeTwo securing the third party rights to MLB.

  26. Iwa ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    NFL2k5 was still a SEGA game in 2004.  The game was distributed by TakeTwo under their Global Star brand at the time.  But they didn’t purchase Visual Concepts until after NHL 2k5 was released.  EA didn’t lower the price of Madden and the rest of their sports titles to $29.99 until October, two months after Madden and NFL had been released.  As was stated earlier the NFL approached EA with their exclusive deal. 

    TakeTwo responds by securing the exclusive third party license.  The first year that TakeTwo puts out their sports games they charge full price under the 2k banner.  This class action lawsuit doesn’t stand a chance.

  27. JC says:

    It’s still likely to get thrown out. The NFL is a horrible company as well, but horrible companies are good at fooling the law and the public because people still support them.

    Besides, EA won’t get pissed until legislation passes on them, not the threat of it happening, especially since this class-actoin suit won’t really be damaging if it happens. It’d be a silly refund worth very little in the end, and its likely Gamestop would profit more from it since they have the stockpiles of the games, while the basic idiot fan rebuys the game each year after trading in the old one.

    Unfortunately, stupid people exist, and will reproduce.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I really hope this doesnt get thrown out. I know it most likely will but I hope this pisses off EA and makes gamers wake the freak up. EA makes some BAD games now a days. Even BF: Bad Company is so average it isnt funny and it is from their good studio.

  29. Anonymous says:



    CRAP!  You are right……  Well it should still make way for similar games.  Like Base Wars did with baseball on the NES.  If you can’t get the official licensing, you might as well make it crazy and over the top.  I want my Defensive line to have shock shield, my running backs need jet packs, and my quaterback should have cyber arms for insanely fast throws (all limited uses things) just to make the game frigging fun again.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the advice not to buy Bovine. Now tell me and 1 million other gamers where we can find a game that has current NFL rosters on it.



  31. A. Bovine says:

    It should be noted, and it i a matter of record that the NFL approached EA for the continued licensing deal and not the other way around.


    While I fully agree that Madden has become an unapproachable and confusing title for the non-sports gamer (yes that is me) it is within the EA’s right to do as they wish. While Madden is a big money maker, there are other franchises they own that also brings in a lot of money (Maxis, etc). While the company is making good strides toward the creative (even Rockstar went on record to say they would not mind the take over) it has a long way to go but it is a business which means that the $ will always win out and that is with ANY company.


    Simply put, don’t like then don’t buy it. 

  32. Anonymous says:

    Boffo, what percent of pro footbal video game sales are made up of Madden 09 sales? It’s a relevant question.

  33. Iliad says:

    I dont think any of us can say whether or not it can extend to a type/genre such as sport games as a whole, I think that part is unprecedented, and it would come to a judgement call from the judge, provided this even goes that far.


    I think what EA is doing certainly leaves the bitter taste of a monopoly in your mouth, but I wont go so far as to say its definetly a monopoly, we will have to see where things go.


    Either way, as far as im concerned the ends justify the means in this case, if the ends mean that this punch makes it more difficult for EA to aquire take two then im all for it.

  34. Boffo97 says:

    This is going be laughed out of court.

    While the exclusivity deal sucks, it’s not illegal. For the exclusivity deal to be an illegal monopoly, the deal would have to prevent other companies from making video games in general, not just football video games, and it doesn’t even do the latter.

    Plus, a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs would blow away ALL exclusive game licenses (which comprise the majority of game licenses out there, it’s just that the NFL one gets the attention and this unfair "monopoly" label because they went from non-exclusive multiple licensees to an exclusive licensee), and no court will ever go there.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I suppose that depends on how you define "industry." Is 70 million units in 24 hours at $60 each an industry? MInd you that products not licensed by the NFL probably sold one-thousandth of one percent as much as Madden.


    People are not interested in pro football games that do not have real pro football players in the game. You can say "licensing is legal" all you want. What you are really saying is that "selling a $1 billion monopoly is legal, as long as it’s done under the guise of licensing."

  36. Iwa ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Actually it isn’t.  Madden 04 and NFL 2k4 were $49.99 in 2003.  All the 2k5 games were $19.99 as a publicity stunt to raise interest in the 2k sports titles.  Madden 05 was released at $49.99 in August 2004.  The price wasn’t lowered to $29.99 until November 2004.  The 2k5 sports titles were copublished by Sega and TakeTwo.  TakeTwo buys Visual Concepts from SEGA, when the 2k6 series comes out the games are full price of $49.99 and $59.99(360).

  37. Mortium ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    actually, it is. Well, atleast that’s the story that the plaintiffs will put forth (haven’t had time to read the complaint, just glance). Basically, that because they do not have ANY competition on product type X (football video games) the defendant jacked up their prices at the expense of consumers. Furthermore this WILL block the EA take-over of Take2, as it has been repeatedly pointed out, that would give EA a monopoly on ALL sports games.

    On a side note, Dennis, do we have the certificate of service for the complaint? I’d be interested in seeing who is supposedly representing EA (granted notices of appearance still need to be filed I’m sure).

  38. DraginHikari says:

    You realize it’s not illegal unless they’re trying to control an entire industy single handedly.   You’re talking about a single sport in the sport genre not the entire video game industy as a whole.   It’s not breaking any laws still.

  39. Anonymous says:

    You are missing the point, the point is that EA raised their price of their game by almost 70%, because they had no competition. Imagine if Microsoft locked Apple completley out of the market and raised their software prices by 70% because people would have no choice, that is the part that is illegal…


  40. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the "majority" (the majority is always right? RIGHT?!) buys Madden (EA’s biggest property) because it’s the only NFL game that exists.


    EA paid the NFL so it could deliver an arguably inferior product that did not have competition. Period. That’s what happened. Both EA and the NFl have made it very clear that they are vehemently opposed to competition in the NFL videogame business.


    If current anti-trust law does not forbid what happened, then it’s clear that the law needs to be changed. This anti-consumer move benefits a pair of very wealthy companies and eliminates choice for millions of consumers.

  41. Jason says:

    You can’t play anything else because of what EA did you moron. People wanna play football games, but they can’t play a decent one becuase Madden has sucked for years. Thats what the law suit stands for and I for one hope it wins. 2k football forever.

  42. DraginHikari says:

    But what is being said is exactly true, EA as unethical as it may appear are not doing anything illegal or anything you can declare are true ‘damages’ 

    To me this is ridculious simply because it falls into the same mentality about ‘ I don’t like it so I’ll sue!’ mentality. The only reason people are more accepting of this one over others that have been mentioned here before is because of the general dislike of EA.

    I don’t care for EA or their games… I just find this stance ridculious if you don’t like something then play something else.   It’s really that simple.

  43. Iliad ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    They buy their products anyways because they are gamers not politicians, EA doesnt deserve anyone to come to its defense, whether or not madden went to EA is not the issue, it was EAs decision to go through with it and then hike the prices, they OBVIOUSLY are going for a monopoly here, its called a "hostile" takeover for a reason, even if EA isnt at fault, the takeover would be awfull for gamers.


    Im glad someone wants to stick it to them.

  44. DraginHikari says:

    Riiigghtt and that’s why a majority of people continue to buy their products anyway.   Really if your going to make a point and the only thing you can do is refer to them as scum your point is going to quickly be overlook…

    Just as this case more then likely will.

  45. Anonymous says:

    We’ll stop blaming EA when Madden 09 doesn’t look like 2K7 would have.


    And how did EA "have nothing to do with this" when it was the company that cut a $250 million check to the NFL for its monopoly? How is that having "pretty much nothing to do with this"? They paid a quarter-billion dollar bribe and had nothing to do with it. Either you’re full of shite or you’re ignorant. EA HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT.

    And the games they put out suck in comparison the 2K series.

    This is a classic example of a monopoly delivering an inferior product.

  46. HurricaneJesus says:

    You would have a point if EA had not lobbied the NFL for years to sell exclusive rights. Until then the NFL was happy to let all develepers purchase the rights.


    Don’t defend EA, they are the fucking scum of the videogame industry. They are the opposite of everything gaming stands for. There is no soul in EA, or their shit products. Disgusting company.

  47. Jack Hollow says:

    No excuse for EA’s continued production of mostly lack luster games and trying to get other companies to do the developing for them. Then trying to take the credit for other companies work, simply because they had enough money to aquire them. Plus treating their consumers like copyright criminals to me is the sign of an arrogant company. Or at least trying to treat consumers like criminals was the plan until the gaming community very loudly objected to it. Though it’ll do nothing, it be nice if actual consumers sticking it to them with a lawsuit makes EA take a long hard look in the mirror at itself.

  48. Pinworm says:

    Once again, it was the NFL that went to EA. EA has pretty much nothing to do with this. Nor is the NFL under any obligation to sell the rights to their franchise to tons of people. They can sell it to who they want to.


    And stop blaming EA.

  49. Iliad ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Absolutely, you know what it reminds me of? Deus ex, the more recent one, with the two competing coffee shop chains, everyone favors one and they are major rivals, but in the end you find out they are owned by the same company, the rivalry was just an illusion and the profits all went to the same place.

    Of course its a bit different, I bet the coffee at both places tasted exactly the same.


    Still funny though.

  50. CyberSkull says:

     Both points of view have merit, but in the end I think that the NFL would make more money with 2 competing game franchises licensing their stuff.

  51. Keegs79 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

     Yeah, right. What credit? EA is a company just like any other. They are no different than Activision or Ubisoft who are the other big 3rd party companies. Most of you are just upset at EA just because you feel you have to be by others’ ridiculous claims. I dont see how why EA would have to look at themselves over a lawsuit such as this? First of all they are a company like any other. They are function is to make the business decisions that will keep them afloat and sorry to say but the same goes for every single company. Money is always first.

  52. SeanB says:

    Thank You. Great Point. Licensing deals are NOT against the law. Anyone is free to produce a football game, they just cannot use the names of the NFL teams, players, etc.

    Wether or not you like EA, they’re not doing anything Illegal.

  53. Benji says:

    I have a hard time seeing this going very far. Licensing deals aren’t against the law, neither is attempting a hostile takeover of another company, and I’m not entirely sure if private citizens can even bring an anti-trust action against a corporation. EA’s business practices are crappy and don’t always benefit the consumer, but that isn’t against the law – if consumers hated it that much they’d either stop buying Madden or another company would step up and create a competitor.

  54. Boffo97 says:

    The exclusive license probably would have caused a company to go back and make a sequel to Mutant League Football…

    …except that it was EA that published that one in the first place.

  55. Anonymous says:

    It is an interesting idea, however I doubt it will fly.  It is like ESPN having a monopoly over SportsCenter.

    I don’t like Madden in the first place, but since they have been the sole company to make NFL titles, they have become a new level of crap-tastic. They do little more than change the number in the title every year and people still buy their crap.  The reason why this is not a monopoly though is because game companies can make all the football games that they want to, just not NFL football games. (On a personal note, maybe it will get them off their asses and I will be able to finally get a sequel to Mutant League Football.)

    Not a monopoly, in my opinion, although I would like EA to get burned for being so greedy with this franchise.

  56. Jack Hollow says:

    It’s good to see some gamers actually doing something to try to stick it to EA, rather than most of us who just talk about trying to do something about it. Of which I am guilty of sadly.

  57. Belgarion89 says:

    So, is the ECA getting behind this?  Cuz that would seriously kick some ass.


    So speak I, some random guy.

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