If you even have a passing interest in video games, you’ll have heard about the furore over No Man’s Sky, the space survival game that was much hyped before its recent release due to the promise of an open universe home to some 18 quintillion explorable planets.
Unfortunately, many gamers have been less than happy with the final product which launched on August 10th, with the main criticism revolving around features that consumers expected but failed to materialise. A review in The Washington Post noted that “Perhaps ‘No Man’s Sky’ will, over time, evolve into something more interesting if players are given the tools to terraform planets and to make them more fulfilling sites for exploration. For now, this is a game whose concept is more interesting than its execution.”
As a result, hordes of angry gamers have sought a refund, whether from Steam, the PlayStation store or bricks and mortar shops, with varying reported levels of success. So what exactly are your rights?
“If a consumer simply changes their mind about something they bought in a shop and decides they don’t want to keep it, they do not have any rights under consumer law. Some shops choose to accept returns and give an exchange, refund or credit note within a certain amount of time after the purchase. This is shop policy and a gesture of goodwill and not a legal requirement,” a spokesperson from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said in an email.
However, it was also noted that items covered by consumer law and sold to consumers must be of merchantable quality, fit for the purpose intended and as described. “Without knowing the details as to how the product is considered not as described it is not possible to answer this question. However, to illustrate using the example of a computer game, it would be considered not as described if there was a feature in the game that didn’t exist,” the spokesperson added.
Under EU laws, consumers are granted additional protections when purchasing items online in the form of a 14 day cooling off period. During this period consumers have the right to cancel an order or contract for any reason. This period begins from when the consumer receives the product.
“However, there are exceptions, these include the purchasing of digital media that can be instantly downloaded in which case there is no cooling off period. If an audio or video recording (such as a computer game) is bought online the cooling off period of 14 days applies, however the item must not be opened or used by the consumer for this to apply,” the CCPC spokesperson noted. “A consumer can receive a refund if they return a product as per these conditions within 14 days of the consumer receiving it. If a consumer buys something from a business that is based outside the EU, the Consumer Rights Directive does not apply. If something goes wrong with a purchase made from a website outside the EU, the website’s own returns and refunds policy will apply.”