Thursday, June 12, 2008

Laurels (part two)

Level Up has an excellent piece by attorney Justin Blankenship updating the attempted EA takeover of Take-Two. There's a ton of interesting information in the article, but here's an excerpt:
What's happening here is that the negotiation process between Take-Two and the FTC appears to have completely broken down, and the FTC has taken the somewhat extraordinary step of enforcing its second request in federal court... The gist of it appears to be that Take-Two had an agreement with the FTC to search for responsive documents in the files of certain individuals. But after hiring a new law firm, Take-Two has apparently reneged on that initial agreement, and has on several occasions narrowed the scope of the search that it is willing to perform even further.

Although the target of an FTC investigation has some grounds to object to a second request on the basis that it's unduly burdensome, the Horwitz affidavit tells the story of a corporation that's gone beyond making good-faith objections based on scope. Take-Two appears to be simply stonewalling.

Here's one more, and it pertains to my previous post:
Not surprisingly, the FTC's investigation appears to be focused on "competing titles for simulated sports games, including basketball, football, hockey, and baseball." (Horwitz Affidavit, paragraph 6). Some of the specific documents sought by the FTC include "databases and copies of its licensing agreements with the various professional and college sports leagues and associations" (Horwitz Aff., paragraph 18) and "marketing and pricing documents relating to basketball and hockey video games" (Horwitz Aff., paragraph 20). This seems to confirm our own speculation that the focus would be on the overlapping basketball and hockey simulation games, since Take-Two already has a Major League Baseball exclusive and EA has the well-publicized Madden exclusive (although one could argue that Take-Two's All-Pro Football is its closest competitor).

So it's come to this: EA has the potential to crush the team sports game market to such an absolute degree that the Federal Trade Commission is concerned. Incredible.

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