EA, Madden face class-action lawsuit; Facebook games in danger?

John Madden Football
According to Geoffrey Pecover and Andrew Owens, the plaintiffs in a 3-year-old, class-action lawsuit against Electronic Arts, EA has created "a monopoly in the market for interactive football software," USA Today reports based on court documents. While EA of course denied the allegations in 2009, the suit has been recently certified, allowing its class-action status. Gilardi and Co, a class-action claims administrator, then posted the e-mail that many EA Sports fans likely received this morning, declaring anyone who purchased an EA Sports football game since 2005 could be eligible for compensation.

It all boils down to exclusivity deals that EA signed with the NFL, NCAA and Arena Football League back in 2004 that effectively pushed developers like 2K out of the market. And now those who feel gypped out of some quality, cheaper football games want compensation for the price hike that EA instated on football games after it gained exclusivity. However, this exclusivity could also apply to Facebook, considering that of all the popular football games on Facebook, only one game other than Madden NFL Superstars features any NFL team logos and other specifics: Ultimate Fan.

Madden NFL Superstars is in no way mentioned in this lawsuit. However, could EA and Madden on Facebook face a similar lawsuit in the future? Only if Facebook or the web was somehow mentioned (highly unlikely) in that 2004 deal with the professional leagues. According to GameSpot in 2004, the deal does however mention NFL games for PC platforms and "manager games." If you play Madden NFL Superstars and try to say that it is not a "manager game," then you're playing a different game.

Based purely on this speculation, EA's flagship football game on Facebook could be the target of a future lawsuit, though it's a stretch considering Playfish doesn't charge for its paid currency much differently than other developers. EA, it looks like you're in the clear ... for now.

[Image Credit: Destructoid]

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