Let’s talk about the class-action suit first, since you could be affected (relax, you didn't do anything wrong). The other night, EA Sports mass emailed a bunch of Madden owners a legal notice, advising anyone who purchased a recent NFL, AFL, or NCAA football game that 2008’s class-action lawsuit is moving forward. In a nutshell, this suit is about the agreements EA entered into with those respective organizations between 2004 and 2006. The complainants allege that EA essentially owns a monopoly on football games, and that it's giving fans nowhere else to go for their digital football thrills.
You can track the core of this lawsuit back to the last generation of NFL football games, a generation in which Madden was catching up with the critically acclaimed 2K Sports' NFL 2K series. This was before those exclusivity deals, so there was open competition, primarily from 2K. This spat reached its apex in a series of price-slashing maneuvers in 2004 when NFL 2K5 was being offered at an agreeable $20 price point and Madden 2005 was at $30. In the year following, the NFL and the NFLPA inked an exclusive agreement with EA, preventing the sales of brand new football games from anyone besides EA. This is a deal that’s still in effect now, which is why we have no more NFL Fever titles and instead get games like Backbreaker in their place.
== TEASER ==In the months following this deal, EA inked exclusivity deals with the NCAA as well as the AFL, keeping 2K Sports and other possible competition completely out of the picture.
So, the meat of this suit is about the lack of competition, while the potatoes appear to be the allegation of price inflating. Madden 2006, for example, was offered at the standard retail price instead of the $30 point Madden 2005 hit in the war with 2K. This suit is saying that you’ve got no other options, which is true... but it’s not exactly like EA is charging higher than standard industry prices. New copies of Madden cost the same as, say, a new Gears of War. But, hey, I'm not a lawyer, so I'm probably missing something here.
But wait, there's more!... lawsuits! The other suit, however, couldn’t be more different. According to 1UP, one of the original creators of Madden, Robin Antonick, believes he’s owed a significant amount of cash because he signed a contract with EA Sports that would reward him royalties on derivative versions of Madden. Here’s the wording on the complaint:
"Only recently, as a result of publicity surrounding the 20th Anniversary of the 'Madden' videogame did Antonick become aware that Electronic Arts did not independently develop subsequent versions of its Madden NFL software. Instead, according to recent statements by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the current generation of software apparently derived from software developed by Antonick."
Of course, EA believes Antonick doesn’t have a leg to stand on. In a statement, an EA representative told 1UP that “the complaint and its 20 year-old claim are utterly without merit,” which is a clever way to say “yo, this is bullshit.” We received the former response in our inboxes, too, without even having to ask.
These aren’t even all the suits surrounding Madden. Several retired players are suing EA over their alleged unauthorized digital representation in Madden 2009, and former Browns player Jim Brown has his own suit alleging the same thing. Makes you wonder how many lawyers EA Sports has. I guess there’s at least... four.