We all hate bugs. They can crash our games and ruin our saves, or in the case of Oblivion provide a lot of comedy. Right now though, they’re the hot topic for the EU Commission, which has put forward the idea that developers need to start providing a 2 year guarantee with their titles. So in effect, if a gamer comes to a bug in a new game which prevents progression, they can return it back to the store.
This is all part of Commissioners Viviane Reding and Meglena Kuneva’s plan to increase EU Sales and Guarantees Directive. So good news huh? Less buggy games around? Well, not exactly. Dr. Richard Wilson, head of the videogame developers’ association Tiga, thinks that the proposed act could “stifle new ideas”, meaning developers would instead start to play it safe with more cookie cutter pieces, instead of branching out with new innovations that could potentially be bug-filled. It could also be bad news for developers like Bethesda, who make games so massive that a lot of bugs slip through into the final product, and are ironed out later via patches.
Helen Kearns, spokesperson for Kuneva didn’t deny that this could lead to abusing the system, with some people playing a title for a few weeks, and then getting their money back based on a false claim. However, she remained adamant that this was not a good enough excuse so that “basic consumer protection should apply”. That basically means games should be getting the same kind of guarantees as other items like toasters.
The BSA (that’s Business Software Alliance, not Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, Mr. Redfield) has argued that, “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.” Two of the BSA’s represented software firms are none other than Apple and Microsoft.
Nothing’s set in concrete yet, it could go either way. It’s up to you to decide if this is a good thing or not however. Will we see less buggy games? Or are titles like Fallout: New Vegas now under threat in the EU?