Electronic Arts hit with class-action lawsuit

Josh Rouse

Video game company Electronic Arts is being sued for creating a monopoly on football games, according to an e-mail sent to gamers who had purchased certain football games between in the past six years.

Geoffrey Pecover and Andrew Owens have filed a joint class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against EA for entered into a series of exclusive licenses with the NFL, NFL Players’ Association, NCAA and Arena Football League, which they claim “foreclosed competition in an alleged football video game market.” According to the e-mail, the plaintiffs claim this series of exclusive licenses caused customers who purchased certain football video games to be overcharged. Included in the list are Madden NFL, NCAA Football or Arena Football League brand video games published by EA with a release date of Jan. 1, 2005 to present. Excluded from the class are purchasers of software for mobile devices, those who purchased directly from EA, those who purchased used copies of the games and employees of Electronic Arts.

According to the e-mail, anyone who has purchased one of those games during that time frame is a class member and will be bound by the court’s rulings in the lawsuit, including any final settlement or judgment. Class members can exclude themselves and keep their right to sue EA individually if the request exclusion prior to June 25, 2011 by submitting a request at www.easportslitigation.com.

EA also owns licenses with NASCAR and the NCAA in sports other than football, including basketball, although these licenses were not included in the lawsuit. The company also tried to purchase the exclusive rights to Major League Baseball in 2005, but 2K Sports purchased the rights.

News of this lawsuit comes just days after news broke that Robin Antonick, the original creator of the Madden game franchise is suing EA for millions of dollars. Antonick, who claims he signed a contract with EA in 1986 that entitles him to royalties made off future versions of the game, reportedly was given royalty checks for five years before being cut off in 1992. Since then, the franchise has grossed nearly 90 million copies sold and expanded to mobile versions of the game.