View Full Version : Should there be laws on software support?

05-16-2002, 07:43 PM
Seeing all these publishers just dump games and software left and right and move on to the next product for more money - should there be laws on software - sorta like warranties?

Basically it'd be like this:

I. A demo of the game/program (same version as out of the box) must be released before the game/program is released to the public.

II. 1 year after the game/program's official release a company must:

A. Support the game/program with technical support, and interactive forum representation.

B. Provide X number of patches - say 3-4 to fix problems.

C. Each patch requires a 3/4 week beta phase that allows customers to test out the patch.

Would that work or not?

What would the problem be in this?

If you think about it .. the way publisher's advertise and churn out crappy games that kids will purchase is just about as bad as influencing them to purchase cigarettes (though the health risk comparison is highly questionable).

The point behind such a law would be to protect minors who purchase things and tend to lack the discernment of adults; i.e. they fall for advertsing and often don't consider company reputation, etc.

After all, many games are 'teen' or younger rated.

I'm also looking at it as more of a warranty issue - the object is to entertain (subjective of course) but also to give a person a stable product that's as good or better as the first time he/she purchased it. If it' gets worse by any means (on a technical level or by something that truly defeats the enjoyment of it) the company should be liable. That's just my proposal.

I guess that's the difficult part of software - where hardware aside from say BIOS upgrades, tends to stay the same until it wears out. Software can be easily improved or ruined depending on the company's release of patches, etc.

When a company develops/publishes software, there should be legal responsbilities included with the inclusion and/or changes to that software - again, it should work just as well or better than it was out of the box.

A simple solution:

A 1 year refund policy and it'd be up to the company to cancel that person's cd-key or ability to use the product.

This would allow the person to:

A. Get his/her money back.

B. Make a statement to the company and gain a reasonable resolution if the product is not well supported.

I believe a major problem is due to internal beta testing.

If companies release a public beta patch (like ID does with Quake 3) most problems (exploits, technical issues, etc) would be resolved before the official release of a patch.

Plus, beta patches are completely voluntary, so people who choose to use them do so at their own risk.

When a beta patch is released, the company would be not be legally responsible for how it performs for the customer - it would just exist for testing purposes - however they would be legally responsible for the final patch releases.

This would be a fair balance to both the consumer and the company. It protects the company when releasing betas, but also forces them to allow the consumer representation via testing and feeback.

05-16-2002, 08:36 PM
Just as a forewarning, I'm basing this off of American law structures, since that's where NewB lives, and is where I live.

It sounds like a solution that would benefit the customers greatly. I do not, however, see a law like that passing. First off the majority of the people that would want it A) aren't old enough to vote or B) are too 'smart' to vote or something (I'm still too canadian to vote :p). Secondly, the people that might champion the underage partition are the parents, most of whom probably saw it as a waste of money anyway. Thirdly, the majority of the voters are the elderly, and I'm willing to bet the gaming industry could make it look to elderly people as if the law hurt children.

Which brings me to the last problem...money. The gaming industry has a fair amount of money, and I'm willing to bet that they like keeping their money, and would probably use some of it to fight the conception of such a law. You would need a good amount of money and basically an organization in place to help fight that aspect, and I think most of the organizations would consider this somewhat trivial.

So how could you solve those problems?...

05-16-2002, 08:39 PM
NewBJedi for dictatorship! :p

05-16-2002, 08:41 PM

Granted, that might solve a few problems, it might cause a few others to pop up ;) For example, I imagine a few forum trolls might wind up dead, quickly...I wouldn't be complaining, but it's probably a bad thing...