Madden's exclusive license with the NFL emerged unscathed from the $27 million settlement of a four-year-old class action lawsuit alleging that the deal was an illegal monopoly.
Though gamers are entitled to some monetary refund if they bought an American football product from EA Sports between 2005 and now, it is a paltry sum—up to $1.95 if they bought a Madden game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Wii, up to $6.79 if they bought a Madden game on the PlayStation 2, GameCube or original Xbox.
The settlement's most notable restriction is a five-year ban on any exclusive license between EA Sports and the NCAA, once their current pact expires in 2014. But this has little real effect, as the last NCAA football video game published by someone other than EA Sports was Sega's College Football 2K3 a decade ago. EA Sports is still free to strike any non-exclusive deal with the NCAA after 2014.
It was the hated exclusive license between EA Sports and the NFL, which drove out the NFL 2K series, that this lawsuit targeted when it was filed in 2008. And though the settlement won monetary concessions for consumers who bought EA Sports NFL games published after that deal was reached, the publisher and the league are free to continue under its terms.
EA Sports has also agreed not to sign any exclusive licensing arrangement with the Arena Football League for five years, but that is hardly of any concern to either the label or to gamers. The last AFL title was published in 2007.