I Can’t Play This 2008 Game Online Forever, Plaintiff Complains

Well, the ever-roiling, always-turbid waters of California consumer law have just coughed up yet another ridiculous creature whose slowly decomposing corpse will stink up the once-pleasant beach that is the federal docket for the next several months. (Previous sentence ©2013 Kevin Underhill, all rights reserved.)

Justin Bassett, who says he is an avid player of Electronic Arts’ extensive line of sports games—or at least he was until he learned of its treachery—sued EA in the Eastern District of New York (but alleging violations of California law) on July 24. Justin alleges he bought a number of EA sports games over the past five years or so, relying “upon the representation that these EA games were enabled for online play….” Were said games enabled for online play as represented? Indeed they were. But, Justin says, it turned out that this was only true for a limited time, and thus he did not receive the full benefit of his bargain. Therefore, lawsuit.

For those not familiar with such games, here’s an example. I personally own, I believe, Madden NFL 08, depicted here (I have the PS3 version). It is a game in which one can control the actions of simulated football teams, although in my case “control” is probably not the right word. These simulated teams are made up of simulated players based on the actual players on the NFL team’s roster at the time. This, for whatever reason, is part of what makes this particular game enjoyable, at least to me. The series is hugely popular, and as you might expect, EA sells not only games based on pro football but also college football, as well as hockey, basketball, and even “sports” such as golf and that one where people don’t or can’t use their hands. And they sell new versions every year.

That last item is the diabolical practice that Justin is now fighting. You see, when a new version is released, many players go buy that new version ...

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