The British government, specifically the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is proposing to change the law on consumer rights with regard to digital content. That means games, our hobby, will have an entirely new legal framework.
It clearly needs it. Currently the situation is laughable- the company puts in a ridiculous EULA which requires you, as a purchaser to waive every right you have and take any dispute to somewhere so far away it may as well be Mongolia if you do want to dispute it. These things are supposed to be contracts but they really aren't because one party has no power of negotiation. If you read, say, the Secret World's Eula and then contact Funcom and say the Eula's fine except I don't agree to dispute resolution being done in Norway (or whatever) then their answer is almost certainly going to be "tough, take it or leave it." So it's not actually a contract, it's not a negotiated agreement. It's simply a forced waiving of your rights. It's the old Roman system of caveat emptor, a system which was replaced as commerce rose in the seventeenth century because it's a crap system, it restrains trade because you can't trust the seller. It hurts both parties in the long run.
Not so long ago a games company required customers on April 1st to agree to a Eula forfeiting their souls. They collected 7500 souls from gamers who agreed to this Eula. Nobody reads them, everyone has to agree to them, it's ridiculous and unfair to expect people to be bound by them.
But what will a strong consumer protection framework mean for games? Can you ask for your money back if they nerf your paladin?
The consultation is open to the public at the moment so the law that final comes can be changed by our input. It's inevitable that strong representation from the industry will attempt to neuter the law so it's important that as many of us players as possible provide input to the consultation so that it leads to a workable law that protects consumers without making it impossible to sell games where the experience changes. Because if a consumer if protected from being given a worsened experience, then they are perhaps protected from having their paladin nerfed and that would suck. Not because I hate paladins, but because there needs to be some artistic freedom to tinker with the game in something like a MMO.
Tomorrow I'll do a question by question analysis of the shortened consultation.