‘Madden’ Settlement Tripled for Consumers

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Consumers who bought certain simulation football games from Entertainment Arts will get three times as much from a settlement as previously reported, a federal judge ruled.
     In 2008, lead plaintiffs Geoffrey Pecover and Jeffrey Lawrence claimed that EA killed off competing football video games by partnering with the National Football League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Arena Football League and Collegiate Licensing Co. They claimed EA monopolized the market for such games, letting it charge more “Madden NFL,” “NCAA Football” and “Arena Football League,” and gouge customers.
     When U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken initially approved a settlement in the case last year, the deal provided $6.79 on each game that a consumer bought for XBox, Playstation 2, PC or GameCube between 2005 and 2012. Those who purchased the titles for XBox 360, Playstation 3 or Wii platorms could claim up to $1.95 per game, according to that order.
     Distribution of the $27 million settlement fund was modified in April 2013.
     In a final approval order Thursday, Wilken said the first group of consumers can each receive payments of $20.37 for up to eight games.
     Those who purchased the games for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Wii platforms can now claim $5.85 per title under the final settlement.
     Individual claims could be reduced if the total claims exceed that amount.
     Pecover and Lawrence will each get $5,000 for serving as lead plaintiffs. Their attorneys – Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and the Paynter Law Firm – will get $7.29 million in fees, plus $2 million in reimbursement of expenses.
     Under the settlement, EA cannot renew its exclusive NCAA and CLC football licenses for at least five years after they expire in 2014. EA is also prevented from grabbing exclusive rights to the AFL for five years.
     EA’s exclusive licensing with the NFL will not be affected, though some class members objected to that provision.
     Wilken said that by “achieving an agreement that prohibits defendant from entering into a series of exclusive licenses, plaintiffs have addressed the conduct that was the target of their suit. Further, the lack of exclusive license agreements with other entities will allow competition to enter the marketplace for football simulation games.”

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