Consumers would be guaranteed that their games would work for two years under a proposal being considered by the European Union Commission.
The BBC reports that Commissioners Viviane Reding and Meglena Kuneva want to expand current consumer protection regulations to include licensed software. Such a move would encompass games as well as virtually every other type of software. Of the proposal, an EU spokeswoman said:
The current status quo, where licensed products are exempt from EU law, is unsatisfactory… On the one hand there is the risk of abuse [by consumers], but on the other it’s not a good enough reason to say basic consumer protection should not apply.
While anyone who has struggled to get a PC game to run will appreciate the intent of the proposal, the video game industry has not reacted with enthusiasm. Is anyone surprised? Dr. Richard Wilson, who heads game developers’ lobbying group Tiga, told the BBC that the new regulations could stifle innovation:
Consumers need good quality products – that is only reasonable – but if the legislation is too heavy-handed it could make publishers and developers very cautious… Games takes years to develop and software teams often have to predict what new technology will be in place when the game is actually finished.
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.
Meanwhile, Francisco Mingorance of the Business Software Alliance had the best line of the day (even if he is spinning the issue of behalf of Microsoft, Apple and other big corporations):
Digital content is not a tangible good and should not be subject to the same liability rules as toasters.
GP: We still have fond memories of those flying toasters from the After Dark screen saver.