EU Commission proposes new Game Software "guarantee"

Today it has been released that members from the EU Commission are proposing to give Games and similar Software a two year guarantee that is currently in place for "tangible movable consumer goods".

Meglena Kuneva and Viviane Reding, two commissioners from the EU have questioned the form in which guarantees are being used for Video Games and Software, Currently a game is bought and you are the holder of said license, and you are unable to return it if a bug or glitch is present in the game without , this new proposal would undermine that and force retailers to refund your money.

Helen Kearns, speaking on behalf of Meglena Kuneva, remarks "The current status quo, where licensed products are exempt from EU law, is unsatisfactory,"

If such a proposal was indeed made part of the regulations over the games industry in Europe it would allow users who are unhappy with a buggy game to return their purchase, Helen Kearns continues saying consumers want "to get a product that works with fair commercial conditions".

Most would see the fault in such a system that could lead to abuse, she does however understand how the system could be abused by those who might have bought, played, completed a game and then return it stating that they were unable to complete it due to bugs, then getting a full refund.

"On the one hand there is the risk of abuse, but on the other it's not a good enough reason to say basic consumer protection should not apply."

The head of the video games developers association Tiga, Dr Richard Wilson, has stated that a change to how the system currently works would harm creativity on behalf of the game developers. "They have to be careful not to stifle new ideas,"

"If there is an onus on developers to have software that is 'near perfect' then it could stifle new ideas as people could end up just playing it safe,"
What could this mean for the simple gamer? Games could take even longer to come out than they do currently and with fewer releases due to time commitments that would be required for each game being developed to make it as perfect as possible.

Francisco Mingorance, the director of The Business Software Alliance has chimed into the prospect of the proposal.
"Digital content is not a tangible good and should not be subject to the same liability rules as toasters. It is contractually licensed to consumers and not sold."

"These contracts are governed by civil law that provide consumers with multitude of remedies for breach of contract. We are not aware of any shortcomings of the legal frameworks with respect to digital content."

It is also stated that a change in the law could "end the fragmentation of laws on 'private copying'". This could affect the laws that govern what you can and can't currently do with digital media that you have bought, though a few countries currently have a Private Copy law, countries such as the UK still see it as illegal, though usually little is done about it unless you share it.

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letting people return the games that they dont like would just be like letting people return the physical goods they dont like... as long as they dont somehow make a copy of that game , they will no longer be able to play it and the publisher of the game loses a sale....
if the game is so good that people who play it are willing to tolerate what little bugs they find, chances are they would keep it and its business as usual...
having a developer that issues patches is kind of like a guarantee on its own, being able to return the game at any time is going to change the market dynamics obviously... for example if there is a game breaking bug at a certain point in the game, and if people play through the game at a roughly similar speed, you would get a spike in returns...if downloadable content like patches comes into play, this can also tie the development schedule with the profits of the company alot tighter, for example if there was such a spike of returns, patch that fixes the problems could make people re-purchase the game and the game becomes profitable once more

It doesn't harm developers in any way, and if any of them say otherwise, they are just ridiculously crazy.

The only people this thing will harm is the actual users, because not only will software release take longer, some might not not even be worth the trouble to be sold there and everyone will just import or download from the internet.

This should be imposed by companies, but they are too greedy to miss marketing launch dates.

If it stops devs like Ubisoft Montreal putting out half-finished crap like Far Cry 2 and then concentrating more on selling DLC rather than fixing the bugs people have been complaining about since the release date (some still can't even run the game), then I'm all for it.

However, I think the online gaming aspect will shoot this idea down. As has been suggested, there's nothing to stop someone activating or regging the game serial/code, then bringing it back and saying it was too buggy to play. They get a free copy of the game, the dev is down a sale and anybody unlucky or foolish enough to pick up the game second-hand is screwed too. It's not practical.

But in situations where a game is clearly seen to be buggy or incomplete, there should be some kind of provision where those who bought it could return it for a refund. It'll teach greedy publishers not to pressure their devs to put out something that clearly isn't fit for use. I don't understand the 2 year bit though. If it takes you 2 years to decide the game is too buggy then you shouldn't be buying them at all.

protocol7 said,
there's nothing to stop someone activating or regging the game serial/code, then bringing it back and saying it was too buggy to play. They get a free copy of the game, the dev is down a sale and anybody unlucky or foolish enough to pick up the game second-hand is screwed too. It's not practical.

they could mantain a list of 'returned' games, and the registrations for those games are blacklisted, and the actual physcial discs are never sold to another person
its not too different from whats happening with cheaters who get caught with VAC, they have to buy a new account and all their games again... i think...

quoting the text

The head of the video games developers association Tiga, Dr Richard Wilson, has stated that a change to how the system currently works would harm creativity on behalf of the game developers. "They have to be careful not to stifle new ideas,"

Sorry on my point of view it would mean that developers would stop putting crap outside due to the Marketing/sales make them ship earlier , without any tests , bug fix and annoying errors
Would make devs finish their job and test for major bugs or their AI "improvements" ( not )

So many games that i bought and had to wait over 2 months or more ( when a patch messes with something else and needs the patch for the patch ) to get a working game , just because someone wanted to make some quick bucks

I am sorry but how can this be possibly a bad thing?
Let's face it, IF it is well made it can only bring some quality back to the games.
Nowadays any sort of sh*t is dumped on the shelves, so many high profile hyped games with loads of show stopper bugs are out there, many don't even receive any patch support just because some a**holes decide the game didn't sell enough copies. Just go and check some game support forums...it's scary!
About time this happens!

Really? How the crap does the EU or any other government have any time to devote to this idiocy with everything else that's happening?

M2Ys4U said,
yeah, the EU is just one person and he can't do everything at once. :rolleyes:


There are bigger problems they should be putting all their time they can into... but yes they are big and have many people that can take on many tasks

M2Ys4U said,
yeah, the EU is just one person and he can't do everything at once. :rolleyes:


While i understand, what govt. really has the resources to dedicate to video game testing? The world is in a financial crisis and they're going to put money into a program for glorified beta testers?

pmac1328 said,
While i understand, what govt. really has the resources to dedicate to video game testing? The world is in a financial crisis and they're going to put money into a program for glorified beta testers?

they arent doing beta testing, they are just allowing people who refuse to 'beta test' to return the game for a refund

So when I but a ultra graphics intensive game, for my Geforce 5200MX card, and it doesn't work I should be able to tell them I want a refunt up to two years later because it wont run? (yes I am purpously streatching it)

Well, then that's your fault. But, if the game were designed to run on that hardware and it didn't work as intended, then yes, you should be able to return it.

Too many games are released these days that have huge problems and in some cases doesn't even work. Why should the consumer have no rights to return a defective piece of software?

neufuse said,
up to two years later

well, there is that toaster analogy in the original article... how many years are appliances like that generally under warranty for? surely for something more dynamic, like a piece of software, the warranty period should be as long as it takes for them to come out with a patch, or as long as people are willing to put up with it, whichever is longer...

As a software dev, in my mind this is completely justified. All those people that had problems with GTA 4 etc. on their new PCs would now have some way to get their hard earned money back.

This would be extremely stupid in my opinion. Just think of multi-player games -- someone could easily just grab the cd key and use it and just say there's a glitch in the game/it doesn't work and demand a refund yet still have full multi-player/online capabilities.

dlegend said,
This would be extremely stupid in my opinion. Just think of multi-player games -- someone could easily just grab the cd key and use it and just say there's a glitch in the game/it doesn't work and demand a refund yet still have full multi-player/online capabilities.

This is what I thought! I'm surprised no one else has really brought this issue up. What's to stop someone from copy / pasting a key or simply writing it down and returning it?

dead.cell said,
This is what I thought! I'm surprised no one else has really brought this issue up. What's to stop someone from copy / pasting a key or simply writing it down and returning it?


Then the person who bought the game complains to the publisher about it showing their PROOF OF PURCHASE and eventually they'll sort it out.

dead.cell said,
This is what I thought! I'm surprised no one else has really brought this issue up. What's to stop someone from copy / pasting a key or simply writing it down and returning it?

how about when the game is returned, the key on the jewel box goes on a blacklist?

Hardly. Developers develop so long as they're being paid. It's the publishers who force products out of the door before they are ready.

No one will pay them because they busy sorting out ridiculous complaints, besides do you know how many small publishers are out there? and how many small developers go directly to steam? steam is just a store, valve gives little guarantee, so the little developers get shafted.

The recent "little guy" games I have bought in the last few years include (in no order): Braid, Darwinia, Defcon and World of Goo.

Do you know how many bugs I have found? Maybe two or three, but nothing show-stopping. "little guy" games are generally created by developers with no deadline, therefore they can have the "when its done" mentality. The biggest threat here is to companies like THQ and EA who just want to publish shovelware in order to generate the maximum profit in the shortest amount of time. Once the game is out the door, they don't even need to pay the deveopers to maintain it with patches, because the game quality reflects on the developers, not the publishers.

Majesticmerc said,
"little guy" games are generally created by developers with no deadline, therefore they can have the "when its done" mentality.

tell that to 3drealms...

anyway, big companies which do shovelware are just in it for the numbers, not for making customers happy... once they sold it to you, thats your problem, you could bitch and whine about never buying another game from them ever again, and that is gonna be a few months of waiting for them to come out with a new game so you could refuse to buy it....
this EU proposal is gonna change that so that its as if you havent bought a game from them at all in the first place

i guarantee Europe doesn't get another MMO title if this happens. Bugs are always present, thus a consumer could reutrn it at any time (within whatever time period). As well, they need to realize the complexity of what they're talking about. If a game doesnt work because it's a poor product, then that's one thing. If a game doesn't work because a user has mucked up his machine with spyware/viruses, doesnt update drivers, or any other number of things, then that's not the developers fault (yet the program will be blamed and return attempted). And who do they propose deems if a bug is truly a bug vs an incompetent user? Is this going to be at the store's discretion? Is it going to be govt regulated? Are hardware manufaturers going to get the same treatment because their drivers cause glitches in games?

This is a horrid, horrid idea. This will result in nothing but lawsuit after lawsuit.

There are bugs (a graphics glitch here, a path finding problem there), and then there are unacceptable design flaws and lack of testing (game won't run, crashes to desktop constantly for lots of people).

Everyone expects bugs in new products, but the flaws that mean games don't even run out of the box for many people could and should have been caught by an adequate testing regime.

TCLN Ryster said,
There are bugs (a graphics glitch here, a path finding problem there), and then there are unacceptable design flaws and lack of testing (game won't run, crashes to desktop constantly for lots of people).

Everyone expects bugs in new products, but the flaws that mean games don't even run out of the box for many people could and should have been caught by an adequate testing regime.


Not buying that, sorry. I'm a long time MMO player and people's issues aren't always the fault of the game. A good portion of the time, it is the game's fault, but i've helped people fix the game by solving issues that were well out of the realm of the game. Viruses/Spyware impacting performance... improper router settings... improper firewall settings... outdated drivers... under spec hardware... Bad memory sticks... Overheating issues... etc.

There's really no way for one who's distributing software to tell the difference. If i buy a game, do i get to go back 1 year, 11 months later and say "It's buggy and it just doesn't work" with little to no jusitifcation? There's no way to manage it, plain and simple.

People also bring up very good points in regards to security of software. Install w/ provided product key and done. Once it's on my computer, i'm good to go and can just return the game? They're just not thinking this through. Either that, or they are and they're expecting to turn the gaming industry on its head.

Do this, but for consoles only.

PC games are too easily susceptible to other outside factors. If Joe User's PC has a virus on it and he then installs a game, and it doesnt work because of the virus, he gets a refund.

All those pesky things like which operating system do you use, do you meet the minimum reqs, are you running a shed load of other things at the same time which could affect it, etc etc.

None of that is applicable for consoles. if you bought a PS2 at launch, or went out and bought a new one today, as far as being able to play games, both will do it, exactly the same as the other console. As there are no other things on an Xbox or PS3 that can influence the game to a point where it might break, any bugs/errors that occur ARE AT THE FAULT OF THE GAME DEVS, not the user. Hence, you bought a broken game, so you get your money back.

Thats better.

I like this idea, but it does create a grey area; if might crash on your PC due to you buggy drivers, but you might be able to take it back... I'll have to see this one out to make a verdict.

-Vivicidal- said,
I like this idea, but it does create a grey area; if might crash on your PC due to you buggy drivers, but you might be able to take it back... I'll have to see this one out to make a verdict.

i think that, according to this proposal, you should be able to take it back, i think thats how this new proposal is going to work... its your loss that you cant play the game, and the proposal would change things around so that your loss is also the loss of the game company, if you return the game for a refund it would be as if you have not bought it in the first place... like the article said it can be open to abuse, like if you finish the game then lie about the game being broken and stuff...

Digital content is not a tangible good and should not be subject to the same liability rules as toasters. It is contractually licensed to consumers and not sold."

Funny, when the industry talks about piracy and their (assumed) losses to it, they want to have their software considered as tangible as the stuff on the example above...

Marcos_Edson said,
Funny, when the industry talks about piracy and their (assumed) losses to it, they want to have their software considered as tangible as the stuff on the example above...

My thoughts exactly. If something is "contractually licensed to consumers and not sold", how come it's suddenly called "stolen" when someone breaks the license? Hmm...

Marcos_Edson said,
Funny, when the industry talks about piracy and their (assumed) losses to it, they want to have their software considered as tangible as the stuff on the example above...

Good point.

The entertainment industry in general leverages the fact that its materials are intangible, and therefore sit in a massive grey area in terms of law. This means that they can be as hypocritical as they like, but they can't easily be proved wrong either way.

How embarassing for Europeans to have the EU continue to spew out such garbage. As with their suit against Intel and Microsoft, they are trying to solve problems that do not exist and stirring up fights that do not need to be fought.

Europeans would benefit from the EU much more if they counted blades of grass.

C_Guy said,
As with their suit against Intel and Microsoft, they are trying to solve problems that do not exist and stirring up fights that do not need to be fought.

I agree that MS shipping IE with windows was not a real problem. On the other hand Intel bribing OEMs NOT to sell AMDs or delay/cancel upcoming AMD products is a very serious offense and the fine was completely justified. If you fail to see why then you have a serious problem.

I agree with Harbinger on the case of EU vs Intel. Intel did some seriously bad things by paying suppliers to not sell AMD processors. I'm glad Intel has been found guilty on that one, as it will allow AMD to compete on an even footing.

I dont however agree with the EU vs Microsoft case. Theres nothing wrong with an operating system coming with a default browser.

Back on topic though, I also agree with the proposed "guarantee" scheme for games. For far too long games publishers have been releasing products in an unfinished and broken state in order to meet some arbitrary date, such as Christmas or other holiday season. They do this no matter the condition of the game, and it's been steadily getting worse in recent years as the lazy practise of "release now, patch later" sets in. Publishers should be forced to put quality ahead of profit especially when the consumer has almost no rights to return the product once they've bought the game.

Empire: Total War is an example of this. Out of the box, the game is practically unplayable for many people, with the numerous crashes to desktop. Alot of these issues have been fixed now, 2-3 months after release, but at the time the game was worthless. I was unable to obtain a refund as I had opened the packaging. The game was clearly rushed without adequate testing (if it was even tested at all) and should've been held back for at least a month or two.

Quigley Guy said,
Protecting the customer... ohh noes.
How can this be seen as a bad thing?

They're protecting the consumer from non-problems. The EU is a greedy union that seeks to profit from large corporations by claiming it's citizens are suffering while they really aren't.

bobbba said,
Ever managed to uninstall IE from a recent version of Windows? That's why the consumer needs protecting.

Yeah because Firefox or Opera or any of the other millions of browsers out there won't work if IE is still installed?

bobbba said,
Ever managed to uninstall IE from a recent version of Windows? That's why the consumer needs protecting.

I could. Windows 7 has it. But I keep it because I may need it. ;)

The EU was a good idea gone wrong. You can't have a bunch of people who don't care about anything but themselves in power -- it never works... lol. But hey, at least I don't have to live there. The sad thing is, many fools want the same pathetic system here. "Tax 'em 'till they move or revolt".

A bigger problem with software is when is it considered faulty.

Another thing that is annoying is instance such as this week my friend bought some Apple software for his Mac and when he tried to install it didn't work. He then realised on the back in light grey on white it said he had the wrong animal. They will not refund him. The main reason this problem comes about is because Apple users believe things to "just work" and so doed not check. He Mac is less than 3 years old, which as the software is made by Apple is really disturbing.

agreenbhm said,

They're protecting the consumer from non-problems. The EU is a greedy union that seeks to profit from large corporations by claiming it's citizens are suffering while they really aren't.

the problem i have is that the copy of Sonic The Hedgehog i have for my Nokia N-Gage crashes at the boss for the first level... i wanted to take it back to the shop but, well, they dont want to refund me... now who's greedy? the shop? the corporation who made the game?

trag3dy said,
Yeah because Firefox or Opera or any of the other millions of browsers out there won't work if IE is still installed?


this comment wins

Will you be able to return music that has a sour note in it? How about a movie where you thought a scene was lame? Will you be able to demand refunds from prostitutes? Is there an end? :)

I actually agree with the BSA director. Software isn't tangible, therefore it's more difficult to tell if it's actually the software that's the problem.

GreyWolfSC said,
Will you be able to return music that has a sour note in it? How about a movie where you thought a scene was lame?

That's the wrong kind of analogy. A better one would be "Will you be able to return music that skips 10 seconds of a track? How about a movie where the CGI bugs out?

In these instances, the software should absolutely be able to be returned. The influx of incomplete games that are poisoning the gaming industry need to be stopped. Throughout history, the occasional glitch has been accepted, and still is, but we're not talking about small glitches anymore, we're talking about glitches that give games bad reviews (*cough* S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky *cough*) which should absolutely not be tolerated. Patches are all well and good, but the fact is that the game should not be released in the state that some games are in the first place.

And its not like these bugs occur in all software, why is STALKER: CS so buggy when Crysis (a similar scale undertaking) is so stable. If you don't want to develop games because your scared of bugs, then software development in general isn't for you.

I totally agree with you. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky are perfect examples of games that are released when they are not ready for the consumer to enjoy.

The total count of bugs on those games is overwhelming. Even today, there are many that are still present.

I love STALKER, but consumers should be able to ask for a refund if games or software in general are plagued with bugs, half-functionality, error, etc...