Thursday, June 12th, 2008
It sounds like some gamers are finally fed up with Electronic Arts monopoly on NFL licensing. The Escapist is reporting that two gamers are suing Electronic Arts for monopolizing the market on football video games:
The class-action lawsuit, launched by two gamers in Washington, DC, and California last week, alleges that EA is engaging in “blatantly anticompetitive conduct” by raising the price of its football game offerings after securing key licensing deals.
Hurray for gamers.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the issue, Electronic Arts is the maker of the very popular Madden Football game series. One of the big reasons for the recent success of the series is that since 2005, it is the only game that is licensed to use the real NFL teams and players in the games. Many gamers have been frustrated with this arrangement because they feel that this licensing deal provides EA with very little incentive to actually improve the game, because there are no real competitors. From the Wikipedia entry:
In 2005, the producers of the Madden games, EA Sports, signed an exclusive licensing deal through 2009 with the NFL and the NFLPA to give them the exclusive right to use the NFL’s teams, stadiums and players in a video game, something which has been widely criticized (this deal has since been extended through 2012). This exclusive license has put an end to competition in NFL video games and, some have suggested, this gives EA less incentive to maintain quality and a greater opportunity to increase prices.
I think that this lawsuit is a win-win for gamers. The Madden series is not bad, by any stretch. In fact, I just got Madden 2008 last Christmas and was blown away by how much fun it was. The point is that if you are a real NFL fan and want to play a game with the real teams and players, this is the only game to choose from. That’s a huge advantage for EA, and puts a lot of potential game makers out of the market. Lack of competition is always a loss for the consumer.
I don’t think there’s a gamer out there who loves football (and even loves the Madden series) who will argue that EA has stopped releasing anything more substantial than yearly roster updates in regards to the Madden series. That’s a shame.