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The Consumerist recently wrote about consumer protection in the digital gaming space. We've mentioned on multiple occasions – mostly following the disc-locked content scandal and Diablo III's RMAH situation – that better consumer protection needs to be implemented. Well, the United Kingdom is very forward-thinking when it comes to protecting consumers in the digital age and have rolled out some new criteria for the Consumer Rights Bill of 2013 – 2014.
According to Inc Gamers, the new and improved bill comes courtesy of the Department for Business Innovation & Skills via the U.K., government site, letting consumers know exactly what their rights are and what that means for purchasing goods and getting refunds for things such as, but not limited to, e-books, DVDs with digital content, cloud content, MP3s and video games.
They break down the basics of consumer rights regarding digital content, with the primary gist being the following.
The interesting part about it is that some of the wording seems to actually hint at protecting the use of disc-locked content, though, still giving the consumer an option to return the good if the digital content is faulty or damaged on the physical good.
In other words, Capcom's use of disc-locked content for Street Fighter X Tekken wouldn't be a problem, but if the on-disc DLC corrupted save game data, or posed some other harmful threat to the device, or failed to function as advertised, then users could immediately return the product for a refund.
This is further delved into by the bill, which states...
“The digital content quality rights set out that the digital content must be of satisfactory quality. If the digital content didn’t meet the quality rights, and if the digital content were in physical form (e.g. on a disk or embedded in goods such as a digital camera), the consumer would be entitled to return the faulty digital content for an immediate refund (within 30days), or if they preferred they could ask for a repair or replacement of the disk.”
As for digital goods offered from digital distribution portals? Well, if the product doesn't work or you're unsatisfied with your purchase because it didn't meet the criteria of the description, then you're eligible for a refund or replacement, as stated in the bill...
“The digital content quality rights set out that digital content must be fit for purpose. If the digital content didn’t meet these quality rights, the consumer would be entitled to a repair or a replacement of the digital content where practical, or failing that (that is, if the repair or replacement would take an unreasonable amount of time or cannot be done without significantly inconveniencing the consumer), the consumer may be entitled to some money back.”
Unfortunately, there's no word yet on how this will affect services such as Steam or Origin. Although, digital services such as Origin and Green Man Gaming do support refunds under certain conditions. Valve is a lot more stringent with refunds for Steam, especially Early Access titles.
Valve does, however, issue refunds under very specific circumstances, but there's no way to know for sure how this will be affected by the U.K.'s new Consumer Rights bill.