EA Madden Monopoly Bleeds Gamers For Nearly $1 Trillion

So claims a lawsuit by gamers

(Photo: Gamepolitics.com)

(Photo: Gamepolitics.com)

I enjoy playing video games. I’ve gone through stages in my life where I’ve alternated between being an avid player who couldn’t wait to get his hands on the latest and the greatest of any genre of game and the specialist who will only touch certain game types. I’ve also gone through long stretches where video games were not in my home, largely because they are expensive. If I needed the unsecured loan or installment loan on occasion to help me with a budget hiccup, I certainly couldn’t justify spending money on video games.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that I am a sports fan, I’ve never been a huge fan of sports-based video games. This is because I am a statistical nut who has never much cared for unrealistic arcade sports play. The EA Sports Madden football games, as polished as they are, still tend to fall under that classification. Yet those annual games are wildly popular. And, to return to the topic of cost, you’d think that since Madden games have a shorter shelf life that others (one comes out every year), the cost burden to the consumer would be somewhat less.

Apparently not. A legal case against publisher Electronic Arts estimates the inflated price of Madden games from 2006 through 2009 have cost gamers and extra $701 to $926 million. Considering that Madden has exclusive rights to the NFL license (allowing them to use real players, teams, etc.), it appears they have a monopoly on the video game football market that has shut out competition. In particular, Take Two Interactive’s “NFL 2K” franchise has all but died off.

That’s what anti-trust suits are for

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The Game Politics blog cites a University of Michigan economics professor, Dr. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, for the overcharge estimates. The professor is an expert witness called by the attorneys of gamers Geoffrey Pecover and Jeffrey Lawrence, who initiated the suit against Electronic Arts. The professor said this of his findings:

I provide this information for the limited purpose of allowing the Court to assess in rough terms the burden on Electronic Arts in relation to the magnitude of potential damages… Under California’s antitrust statute, it is my understanding that these damages would be (tripled).

Big money from many who shouldn’t be squandering

The tremendous dollar figures are based upon overcharge percentages ranging from 50 to 66 percent and total Madden unit sales of 30.04 million from the 2006 through the 2009 version of the game. MacKie-Mason continues:

When Take-Two was able to compete unhindered, Madden NFL’s competitive price was in the range of $19.95 to $29.95. I assume for this exercise that these would have been Madden’s prices but for the alleged [monopolistic] acts.

The Madden monopoly

EAWhile Electronic Arts’ lawyers willingly provided the statistical data Dr. MacKie-Mason used to create the claim, they dispute the accuracy of his findings:

EA respectfully submits that Dr. MacKie-Mason’s analysis is fundamentally flawed on multiple levels. Indeed, Dr. MacKie-Mason’s estimated magnitude of damages is nothing more than pure fiction – it has no basis in fact or law…

But the court’s allowing it

U.S. District Court ruled that Pecover and Lawrence could go forward with their suit. However, they limited the case to claims made in California and Washington D.C., where the plaintiffs live. So Madden victims everywhere else are out of luck in this case.

Let this be a lesson to you, gamers. Protest exorbitant pricing by staying away from these annual, interchangeable franchise flagship games. That’s the only way companies like Electronic Arts will pay attention. That way, video games won’t be putting you in a situation where you need an unsecured loan on installment loan.

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