Electronic Arts has agreed to relinquish exclusive rights to games based on the United States’ National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Australian Football League (AFL), and will pay US$27 million (NZ$34 million) to customers as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement, the company has announced.
Originally filed in 2008 by a group of gamers, the anti-trust lawsuit alleged that EA had created a monopoly by locking down exclusive contracts with sports franchises.
It then used that position to force competing companies out of the sports gaming space, dropping prices when competing firms released games, only to raise them again once the competition had subsided, the suit claimed.
Under the terms of the settlement, EA will let its current licensing agreement with the NCAA lapse in 2014, and won't sign any exclusive deals with either the NCAA or the AFL for at least five years.
EA will also forfeit US$6.79 (NZ$8.60) per game to customers who purchased one of their football games on the GameCube, PlayStation 2, or Xbox.
Those who have purchased a current-generation football game from the publisher may be able to claim up to US$1.95 (NZ$2.47) a game.
The settlement is expected to be finalised by the court this week.
"We made a business decision to settle this lawsuit and put the matter behind us. We look forward to continuing our partnerships with the NFL and NCAA," said an EA representative.