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Release of information and code required to host a server (personal or public) for online gaming upon cessation of services and protection of consumer rights in relationship to persistent online gaming.
This is to petition the formation of laws and legislations to protect the consumer and to reduce the cost and/or loss incurred by any user should any provider cease their provision of online services related to any game that requires a server for online play. This is a huge issue since the emergence of MMOs, especially those that require a subscription fee and/or the purchase of the initial game and/or subsequent modules or expansions. These constitute potential huge financial loss for the consumer especially in the case of long running games with multiple expansions that require purchase. This petition is for the following:
Regarding the Cessation of services
* Should the provider of a game with online functions that have required at any point the use of a centralised server cease their game service they must make the all coding and tools necessary for hosting the server to the public at no cost or in exchange for a small "at cost" charge for the production of physical media and documentation related to the installation of the server.
*Upon cessation of said services any member of the public gains the right to host any such service but may not in any way charge for the use of such service though may accept voluntary donations for the hosting of the service.
Regarding consumer rights to persistent online gaming, micro transactions and currency for any service which is purchased with real money.
* Any game that requires an initial purchase, a constant subscription, or has any form financial transaction associated with it becomes the property of the purchaser along with any characters, items, content, in-game currency or purchasable (for real money) currency or items.
*Currency for any service (game store, online store, or otherwise) is the property of the person who purchased it and will have no expiration date and may not be removed in any manner other than the legitimate purchase of goods by the consumer.
*Should the provider choose to close any service that currency purchased with real money or that has real money deposited into it (be it an in-game store/online store or otherwise) that still has a positive balance the provider must refund the value of the remaining balance to the owner at the maximum value for each individual unit of currency regardless of any discounts offered on the purchase of the currency during any period of time or any discount for purchasing multiple units of currency.
The fact is that many corporations abuse the purchase currency for real money that harms the consumer and intentionally set the purchasable amounts of currency so that the consumer may not use all the currency that they have purchased and must either deposit more or allow the currency to expire or abuse the none refund policy to close the service at the cost of the consumer.
When it comes to online gaming companies abuse the law to retain ownership over the content of an account despite the money and time invested by the consumer. People often say that characters and associated content in online games are not real therefore are not owned. Yet the law recognises many other more abstract forms of ownership such as stocks and bonds and other such products which have less presence than the information stored about an online character. MMOs and other such persistent characters/world represent a large investment including but not limited to the initial monetary requirement to purchase access and content, a continuing monetary requirement to gain access to the servers and their content and the purchase of additional content. On top of this people invest a lot of time into these characters (and time itself has a recognised value as set by minimum wage laws) and therefore place a value on it which is no more or less valid than the value an artist may place on his/her work.
The lack of consumer protection in these areas is appalling and a change is required.
This petition is being sent to the EU and posted at http://pettoeu.epetitions.net/ so that people may, if they wish, show their support for the suggested changes.
This petition is being altered on 5 AUG 2012. Nothing within the core petition before this point has been altered but a section will follow that is not in the main petition but I believe helps explain the micro-transaction part of this petition and is being used with the permission of its original author.
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