Why the EA Class Action Lawsuit is Bogus

Why the EA Class Action Lawsuit is Bogus

Over in California, a judge waved his magic gavel, said “Abracadabra,” and granted America the power to sue Electronic Arts.

Near the end of December, District Court Judge Vaughn Walker gave the A-OK to a class action lawsuit filed against the studio. The suit accuses EA of using its exclusive NFL license as justification for jacking up the price of its Madden NFL series. Anyone who has purchased a Madden NFL game through or following 2005 can sign on as a plaintiff.

The plaintiffs are being represented by the Hagens Berman law firm, which alleges that EA is practicing “illegal price gouging.” The case refers to a 2004 price war between EA and NFL2K5 by Sega: When NFL2K5 retailed for an attractive $19.95 USD, EA dropped the price of Madden NFL 2005 to $29.95, down from $49.95. Once EA secured exclusive rights to the NFL brand, the price of Madden NFL 2005 went back up.

Hagens Berman’s lawyers are seeking a jury trial for the case, and are seeking “restitution and/or damages to class members for the purchase of the software.”

God bless lawyers for turning the carefree pastime of gaming into a bubbling black quagmire of legal jargon. Nobody wants to get too close, lest they sink in it. Nevertheless, we have to wonder if there’s a case against EA.

Obviously, some lawyers and at least one judge believes there is. The rest of the world is less certain. True, EA dropped the price of Madden NFL 2005 to compete directly with NFL2K5‘s budget price, but isn’t that typical of a price war? Yes, the price went back up, but every sale comes to an end. Is there any hard proof that EA specifically jacked up NFL 2005 simply because it had secured the NFL license and knew it could get away with doing it?

Even if there was proof, it wouldn’t make for a solid case against EA. Madden NFL games typically retail for the same amount as any other new release on a game system. In fact, once a year is gone, once a sports franchise shifts a little and coughs, the value of a sports game related to that franchise plummets and sells for a steal. Nobody wants to pay full price for yesterday’s football game.

So there’s probably not much of a case against EA here, with responses to the lawsuit story generally full of mumbling apathy instead of fiery rebellion. Some Madden NFL fans have outlined why the lawsuit is futile, but most football game enthusiasts just want EA to play fair and drop its claim on the NFL trademark. Bottom line: They simply want more Tecmo Super Bowl and NFL2K.

In other words, video game fans don’t want fruitless, drawn-out class action lawsuits looking to excavate traces of wrongdoing where there probably are none. They want choice. And, more importantly, they just want football games to be fun.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.


  1. I don’t know if this lawsuit is a winner, but it definitely has legs. If 2K and EA could sell an NFL game for less than $30 in 2004, the fact that the same game went up to $50 a year later is suspect.

    What’s the difference? EA purchased a monopoly over NFL video games by entering into a license agreement. The lack of competition allows them to charge whatever they want for the game, and such manufactured monopolies run the risk of violating anti-trust laws.

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