An American district judge has admitted a class action lawsuit where plaintiffs accuse EA of illegally raising the price of Madden videogames after it obtained exclusive rights to the NFL license.
The case covers all Madden NFL titles released by EA since January 1st, 2005 to date and any American consumer who bought any of them is allowed to register as a plaintiff.
The plaintiffs are accusing EA of leveraging their exclusive NFL license to kill its competitor Take-Two's NFL series and then raising price by 70%. More precisely, in 2004 Take-Two's NFL 2K5 was sold at a budget price of $19.95 which forced EA to lower its Madden NFL 2005 price to $29.95 in order to be able to compete. A year later, EA managed to get the exclusive rights to NFL which made it impractical for Take-Two to keep its series alive. EA's Madden NFL 2006 retailed for $49.95.
The case is on its way to become a jury trial and EA is expected to argue that Madden NFL 2005's price was a temporary discount and that the $49.95 price of later titles is within the industry standard level.
lawyer Steve Berman who filed the lawsuit stated that "consumers now have a legal standing to demand that EA refund consumers millions of dollars it made from Madden NFL and other sports titles through what we contend was an illegal price-gouging scheme."
"We believe EA forced consumers to pay an artificial premium on Madden NFL videogames," he added. "We intend to prove that EA could inflate prices on their sports titles because these exclusive licenses restrained trade and competition for interactive sports software."