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Germany bans vague pre-order release dates

France and Australia investigate loot boxes

The German government is infamous for heavy censorship laws and crackdowns on certain business practices, and this week that trend continues with new legislation concerning pre-order offers on video games.

he ruling came from the Higher Regional Court in Munich following a court case surrounding the pre-order sales of smartphones. This was brought to light through a customer protection claim involving Media Merkt — originally with them enabling pre-orders on smartphones that don’t have firm release dates.

With increasing pressure on games publishers to clean up the anti-consumer gambling that is loot boxes, these moves aren’t all that surprising, it’s just weird that it took this long for something like this to happen.

There is a legitimate concern regarding this change and its potential for beginning a slippery slope into other crackdowns, so it remains to be seen if other vague practices in gaming, like Early Access offer, will get a similar treatment.

Speaking on the subject Wolfgang Schuldzinski, CEO of Düsseldorf Consumer, said:

“When consumers order goods on the internet, providers must specify by when the goods are delivered.”

The pre-order market for gaming has been a contentious issue for a long time, with lots of underhanded stuff going on and being accepted as normal by gamers. Things like pulling content from the main game to offer it as a pre-order bonus, or including gameplay altering rewards in multiplayer games that upset balance, all of these and many more tactics have drawn the ire of gamers over the years. One of my personal pet peeves is only tangentially related to this, but it still irks me. That being offering “Collector’s Editions” that don’t include the game at all. Hands up if you have that wasteful and overpriced garbage.

I don’t think this change will have a major impact on the volume of pre-orders, just the speed at which they’re offered. I’m frankly happy that these kinds of things occur because they usually act as a signal for the games industry to stop being dicks. That’s of course assuming these kinds of regulation don’t interfere with other practices that actually aren’t problematic.

 

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