Download retailers have their doubts over a UK bill that will allow consumers to return ‘faulty’ digital content.
The bill – revealed in the Queen’s speech opening Parliament last week – says that any product a reasonable person would judge to be faulty must qualify for a refund.
This could have a big impact on games, particularly for ones that have bugs or other faults.
“Consumers of online content should be entitled to a right to redress if they are sold faulty content,” said Dermot Stapleton of digital download retailer GetGames.
“But assuming these laws are actually put in place, how do you enforce them on sites not based in the UK? Where would the burden of proof lie in the argument between ‘the game keeps freezing’ and ‘the game is fine – it’s your PC or broadband that is knackered’?
“And would it be fair to say that a patch/update constitutes a ‘replacement? We shouldn’t knock the Government for trying, but it doesn’t appear that they have been particularly well advised on how to shape these changes to consumer law.”
UKIE is already speaking to authorities in a bid to assist in the new proposals: “We have already been working hard to educate the Government that bugs are an expected part of any game, due to their complex nature. We will continue to make the case that games are only ‘broken’ when they are fundamentally unplayable,” said UKIE boss Jo Twist.
But overall the bill is welcomed from the industry, with the likes of GOG.com already offering store credit for faulty games.
“It can be difficult to define what a ‘broken’ game is, especially if it is still being actively developed,” said GOG.com head of marketing and PR Trevor Longino.
“That said, we have a something of an internal definition for a faulty game at GOG.com: if our customers have an issue with a game, and our support team cannot fix it, we provide the gamer with a credit for another game. A store exchange, if you will.”