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Expert opinion on the ‘killing’ of computer games: Pirates want clear EU rules against the arbitrary rendering inoperable of video games

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Against the backdrop of the ‘#StopKillingGames’ player’s initiative, which opposes manufacturers rendering computer games inoperable, the European Parliament’s Research Service has examined the relevant EU laws on behalf of Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer and listed seven potentially relevant EU regulations and directives. Breyer sees gaps in this complex legal framework:

‘There is a lack of clear EU consumer protection rules tackling the industry practice of game manufacturers selling popular games for profit, but reserving the right to arbitrarily render them unusable at any time and not even offering a refund of the purchase price. Although there is a general EU directive on ‘unfair terms in consumer contracts’, what is ‘unfair’ needs to be decided by the courts in every case. There is also an EU directive stipulating that digital content must be made available for the duration of the contract, but it does not protect against short-term termination and discontinuation of a game that has just been sold. The EU rules do not do justice to the cultural significance of games, which can bring together established communities of millions of players. We Pirates demand that the EU protect games as a cultural asset, prohibit manufacturers from killing games arbitrarily and, where they do discontinue games, the community should be allowed to take them over.’