Madden NFL 2006 from EA Sports was released this week, and gamers lined up to get their copies. It's a great game, in GP's opinion. There's a lot to love about it.
Love the new vision passing system. Love the ability to precisely locate your passes so that only your receiver can reach them. Love the new Superstar mode and all of the other cool things that already made Madden great.
But there's a dark side, too, none of which has to do with the game play. There are things you can hate.
Hate the fact that EA, the NFL, and the NFLPA got together to screw over football fans by limiting their choices to a single licensed game.
Hate the fact that the NFL2K series was forced into extinction by the lack of available NFL licensing. It was a great sports game franchise, better than Madden in the eyes of many gamers.
Hate the fact that EA Sports and developer Tiburon will have zero pressure to innovate since there can be no competition. Although GP enjoyed Madden, some reviewers, like GameSpot ("solid, if predictable") and Kotaku ("Madden = More of the same"), complained that Madden 06 is just a so-so product.
Hate the fact that Madden, without competition this year, will set you back $49.99. Last year it cost just $29.99, and the now-defunct NFL2K5 cost only $19.99. Of Madden's monopolistic sins, this is the most egregious, and probably the most interesting to government investigators, should they choose to come calling. If the franchise sells 10 million copies, that's $200 million leaving your collective pockets and making its way into EA's swelling coffers.
And folks, that is what happens to consumers in a monopoly market. You have no choices. You have no leverage. And that's why the Justice Department needs to investigate EA for anti-trust violations.
If you're having a sense of deja vu, it's because this isn't the first time GamePolitics has harped on the Madden Monopoly, and probably won't be the last. Check out our previous coverage: Reebok Case Has Implications for EA NFL Monopoly; GamePolitics Renews Call for Justice Dept. Probe