Madden Monopoly Case: Trial By Video Game

The Madden Monopoly case could come down to trial by video game, rather than jury.

Pecover vs. Electronic Arts is set to go to trial on September 14th in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, according to GamePolitics. At issue is whether or not EA has a monopoly after securing an exclusive EA-NFL-NFLPA deal that basically makes it impossible for 2KGames to keep making games like NFL2K.

The exact grievance is spelled out in a 48-page transcript of a November 4, 2008 pre-trial hearing. Pecover's lawyer, Stuart Paynter, says gamers won't buy football games that don't carry the NFL brand and that EA has created an unfair market situation that drives up the cost of games. EA's lawyer, Daniel Wall, says the market is larger than Paynter paints it and that Percover's complaint isn't "even close" to a viable claim.

The parts GamePolitics has pulled from the transcript make for pretty good reading. But my favorite part is where Judge Vaughn Walker leans toward letting the games speak for themselves:

THE COURT: I know absolutely nothing about video games, but how in the world would the quality of a video game be affected in this fashion?

MR. PAYNTER: Well, in the same way that, any time, Your Honor, a market becomes uncompetitive, there's not the same incentive by the entity that's monopolized the market to continue to invest in that product. And you know, I'm not a video game player, either, Your Honor... But my understanding is, you know, there are websites out there that review these games. And you know, we have alleged that, at the time, that the Take-Two game was widely viewed as a higher-quality game, presumably, Your Honor, in terms of the graphics.

THE COURT: Maybe that would be fun, a fun issue for us to decide or allow a jury to decide that. We could have a lot of fun in this case....

Later comes the epiphany:

THE COURT: So that means we wouldn't have a jury trial. We would have a bench trial. It would be a lot easier to play the games.

MR. WALL: It would be, yeah. We would only need one machine. It would be much better. But we would have a bench trial where what? Your Honor is going to assess the relative quality of games before and after exclusivity contracts? That should be interesting.

THE COURT: I'm up for any challenge.

I'm glad that he is, because the more we see games being brought up in court cases, the more important it is for lawmakers to know what they're talking making laws about. And if by some miracle the justice system did provide juries with game consoles for these trials, I'd never dodge jury duty again.

Spirited Courtroom Argument Highlights Madden Monopoly Case [GamePolitics]