Saturday, November 21, 2020

Avoiding negative reviews with EULA abuse

Avoiding negative reviews with EULA abuse

After seeing some fun-looking gameplay videos of Passportout, I went to Steam to buy the game which had quite good reviews. First, though, I was invited to read the end-user license agreement (EULA), which said a few things that made me quite uncomfortable, but especially the following:

FLAMEBAIT GAMES RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ADD, MODIFY, OR DELETE/CANCEL THE GAME, INCLUDING YOUR ACCESS TO THE GAME AT ANY TIME.

So, after buying the game, they can “delete” it or disable my access at any time, for any reason. Why?

In consideration of the payment of any applicable fees and subject to your registering for an account and compliance with the terms contained herein, Flamebait Games or the platform/service provider will, upon receipt of your payment if applicable, provide you with a limited, non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Game and enable you to access and play the Game for your personal use subject to the other applicable provisions, limitations and restrictions in this End User License Agreement.

Seriously? So if I pay you, I don’t actually own a copy of the game – I get a revocable license to access it? Why?

It continues:

You may not upload or republish the Game or Game Content on any Internet, Intranet or Extranet sites or incorporate the information in any other database or compilation, and any other use of the Game or Game Content not expressly allowed under this Agreement is strictly prohibited.

This is worded extremely broadly, implying that you can’t even publish a screenshot of the game.

However, you may upload recordings of yourself playing the Game on channels like Twitch.com and YouTube.com etc, provided that such use is done in good taste and does not infringe on the intellectual property rights of Flamebait Games or reflect negative on Flamebait Games or the Game.

Basically the EULA forces you to agree not to upload or stream gameplay videos, unless it’s “in good taste” (whatever that means, seems totally subjective) and doesn’t reflect negatively on the game. In effect, the EULA prohibits you from using footage of yourself playing the game if you’re going to say anything critical about it.

That really is disgusting and unethical abuse of an EULA that most people almost certainly click through without fully reading. It’s likely unenforceable since it overly restricts freedom of expression and criticism, so it leaves me to wonder why they bothered. This is the kind of thing you might expect from Nintendo, not a small European game company.

Shame on you, Flamebait Games.

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