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Gamers sue EA over football exclusivity


Football gamers will remember 2004 as a dark year in video game football history. 2004, you see, was the year that EA acquired the exclusive rights to publish NFL licensed football games. Gamers will also remember that the reason why EA acquired the license is because Sega's ESPN NFL 2K5 released that year for a paltry $19.99, which resulted in a huge sales boost and in EA lowering the price of Madden 2005 to $29.95 in response. Once EA acquired the NFL license and effectively eliminated all football competition, it released Madden 2006 for the price of $49.95 the following year.

It seems some have taken exception to Electronic Arts' actions, as Gamespot reports that a pair of gamers in Washington, DC and California have filed suit against the company for "blatantly anticompetitive conduct." The suit mentions the company's acquisition of the NFL license as well as the price hike of Madden 2006 the year following the acquisition. Furthermore, the suit notes EA's ongoing attempt to acquire of Take Two, which would "remove one of the few companies with the ability and expertise to compete in the market for interactive football software." That's assuming EA ever lost its hold on the NFL license, of course.

The plaintiffs seek "restitution and damages" for anyone that purchased an EA football game since August 2005 and "disgorgement of all profits made as a result of anticompetitive actions, and that the infringing agreements be declared null and void."

Update: The suit also makes note of EA's licensing agreements with NCAA Football and the Arena Football League. Along with the NFL, this gives EA the exclusive rights to "the only viable sports football associations in the United States."

[Via Joystiq]

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