EA could pay out $27 million to ‘Madden’ and ‘NCAA’ gamers in class-action lawsuit.

While most of us have been gaming our hearts out, video game and entertainment giant, Electronic Arts, has been involved in a consumer protection and antitrust suit since 2008.

In what can only be assumed as a way to end the six year court room drama, EA reached a preliminary settlement, in which a $27 million fund would be set up to reimburse players.  How exactly?

Under the terms of the settlement, players who bought an EA football title on the previous console generation could be eligible to receive $6.79 per purchase, while those who bought a current-gen game could get up to $1.95 per title.  You thought you hit the mother lode didn’t you?

As you can imagine, $27 million isn’t a lot of money for a company the size of EA, but here’s where it gets interesting.  There are stipulations attached to this suit regarding future licensing agreements.  Under the terms of this class action settlement, EA must give up its exclusive rights to NCAA football at the end of its current agreement in 2014.  Not only that, EA won’t be allowed to sign another agreement with the NCAA for five years.  The titan of the gaming industry won’t be able to sign another agreement with the Arena Football league for another five years either.

EA will, however, hold on to its exclusive deal with the NFL.  What does that mean for us as gamers?  We won’t see any true competition for the Madden series of football games.  If you read any gaming forums, then you already know that most gamers feel that Madden is lacking in game quality for the price point.  Many football fans point to 2K’s title 2K5, as not only a better  game, but as a better gaming experience.  In 2005, the last year that 2K released an NFL title, Madden NFL came in at $49.95, while 2K5 was a much more palatable $19.95.

If the settlement is approved by the district court, it is possible that competitors can rise up to challenge EA’s reign in the NCAA and Arena football realm, but don’t hold your breath.  2K games hasn’t produced an NCAA title since 2002, and thus far, they are the only serious competitor, with the funds available to broker such a deal.


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