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European regulator: Nintendo's strict eShop refund policy is unlawful

Thanks to Nintendo's strict no refund policy on eShop preorders and digital purchases, the NCC has accused the game company of practices that violate European law.

After reviewing numerous digital game platforms, the Norwegian Consumer Council has accused Nintendo of practices that violate European law due to the game company's strict no-refund policy on eShop preorders and digital purchases. 

The NCC noted that Nintendo’s refusal to cancel digital orders, specifically preorders, violates the Consumer Rights Directive which rules that customers in the European Union and European Economic Area have the right to withdraw from a purchase if distribution has yet to begin. 

An excerpt from Nintendo’s terms informs players that “all sales are final,” and warns customers to ensure that they meet all download requirements before agreeing to purchase or preorder a digital game. The NCC says that the specific term was the only one it found regard cancellation or preorder withdrawal on Nintendo’s websites.

In a letter petitioning Nintendo to bring its policies in line with regional law, the council explains that, even with prior customer consent, digital platforms cannot bar customers from canceling or withdrawing from a digital content contract before a game has even released.

The NCC also notes that the Consumer Rights Directive exemption that typically allows retailers to prevent the return of digital content is only applicable after a game has released. 

The council closes the letter with a series of questions asking Nintendo if consumers are able to freely cancel preorders and, if not, to explain the legal reasoning behind that decision.

All in all, the council looked at seven leading digital video game platforms and found that only two, Origin and Steam, had adequate systems in place for refunding purchased games. Four other platforms, Battle.net, Uplay, the PlayStation Store, and the Xbox Store had systems in place but the return processes of each weren’t user-friendly or often required contacting customer support.

Nintendo’s eShop was the only platform examined found not to comply with European law. 

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