The game and software industry is an interesting market because of the prevalence of software that is considered proprietary – the source code is closely guarded, the software is given to you under a license to use it and at no point is it ever yours and you can only return it under some very particular circumstances.
What those circumstances are isn’t always obvious and the folks over at MyGaming did some good work getting an attorney to lay down the facts pertaining to returning games that are buggy, don’t work and just aren’t of the quality that you expected.
The attorney in question is Nicholas Hall, chair of Make Games SA. He laid down a few ground rules about what can be returned and first noted that we are, pretty much, screwed even with the law on our side. If you buy games that aren’t up to standard in the areas of gameplay, storyline or how enjoyable it may be, you’re not given the right to return it.
If you didn’t like the fact that Connor in Assassin’s Creed III can twerk, then there’s no precedent to allow you to return the game because you constantly see his ass bouncing on the screen.
“There are a couple of things that need to be noted first: Physical and digital copies of games are considered “goods”, and games, in terms of the law, are not software, they are considered for the most part as films (thanks to a court case from 1996),” said Hall.
“There is no general right of return under SA law. This means you can’t decide to return a good on a whim. The Consumer Protection Act and Electronic Communications and Transactions Act law specify certain instances when a consumer can lawfully return goods.”
Hall goes on to say that because you have to break open the packaging of the game and install the software and accept the EULA, you sign away a lot of your rights for a return because the product is now opened, used and ordinarily cannot be re-sold. If there is an issue with the game disc physically then a replacement can be done.
Buggy games can be returned under special circumstances, but the bugs need to be completely game-breaking to be considered eligible for a return. Again, because you’ve already opened the game and installed it, the process to get a refund is a lot more complex than if you still had the game sealed.
Keep in mind that this process is also a lot easier for console games. With PC games these days requiring you to use clients like Steam, Origin and Uplay, the games distributors and retailers locally also have to work with Valve, Ubisoft and EA to get those games off your account.
You can head over to MyGaming and read the full article as well as see the comments about the return process for defective games in South Africa.