Electronic Arts may have to give up its exclusive rights to develop NCAA Football games when its current agreement with the NCAA ends in 2014, as part of a proposed settlement in a lawsuit that dates back in 2008.
A number of consumers originally filed a suit against EA four years ago, alleging that the publisher had entered into exclusive agreements with the only viable sports football associations in the United States as a means of creating a monopoly in the sector.
Attorneys representing these consumers claim that EA has now agreed to a proposed settlement, filed on July 19, 2012, that will see the company letting the current agreement lapse in 2014, with no renewal for at least five years.
The proposed agreement sent to Gamasutra also states that EA will not sign an exclusive deal with the Arena Football League during this period either, meaning that other developers and publishers will potentially be able to get in on the act.
U.S. consumers who purchased any EA football game during the last six years would also be entitled to small payouts of $6.79 or $1.95 as part of this proposed agreement, with a $27 million fund set up to accommodate the claims. The settlement has been filed, but must be approved before it is made final.
"After more than four years of hard-fought litigation, we have reached a settlement that we strongly believe is fair to consumers,” noted attorney Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, the law firm representing consumers. "We look forward to moving this process forward and asking the court to approve this settlement, which we think is in the best interests of the class."
This isn't the only lawsuit that EA is currently handling. Another lawsuit filed in 2009 claims EA colluded with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Collegiate Licensing Company to have players sign away their rights to have their images, likenesses, and names used in video games such as the NCAA Football series. A federal judge refused Electronic Arts' request to dismiss the class action lawsuit in May.