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Legal News: Killzone and UFC class action lawsuits, Google Play issues IAP refunds

Game lawyer Zachary Strebeck has a roundup of three game-related legal news stories that broke this week, concerning Sony's Killzone: Shadowfall, the Google Play store's IAP refunds and the UFC anti-trust lawsuit.

I woke up this morning on a cold Tokyo day to find a few video game related stories on NeoGAF and in my inbox. These, coupled with a story from yesterday, should be pretty interesting to game developers – here goes.

Killzone: Shadowfall class action lawsuit continues:

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that Sony advertised the game’s graphics as being “native 1080p” in its multiplayer mode.

File this under “ridiculous”: a class action lawsuit against Sony Computer Entertainment America regarding the advertising of Killzone: Shadowfall has been allowed to continue.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that Sony advertised the game’s graphics as being “native 1080p” in its multiplayer mode. In reality, Killzone uses a technique known as “temporal reprojection,” described in more detail here. Essentially, it is pulling information from previous frames to create the newest frame. While it is not rendering a brand new frame each time at 1080p, it is providing a native 1080p image. 

kzsf_tr_2013-02-20_announcement_ms

So the Plaintiff is relying on Sony and the developer’s representations that the game would be native 1080p prior to release and the “HD 1080p” graphic on the back of the box. The damages, one would imagine, would be the cost of the game.

Sony attempted to dismiss the claim, but a judge has ruled that the suit may continue, except for one claim. The plaintiff has been given leave to amend their complaint in order to remedy the faults with that claim.

My opinion as a lawyer not connected with the case is that a lawsuit like this only does harm to the public perception of lawyers and the legal profession. Unlike other commonly-decried lawsuits (like the Liebeck “hot coffee” case), this one seems to have seriously dubious merit. Hopefully, it gets dismissed at another point. Most likely, however, Sony will settle, the plaintiff’s lawyers will make a ton of money, and those who purchased Killzone: Shadowfall will receive a tiny settlement amount.

Justice is served?

Google Play store issues refunds after agreement with the FTC:

This refund allowance is a result of an FTC consent order agreement regarding the lack of clear and conspicuous notice that a purchase is being made.

I received an email from the Google Play store alerting me to the fact that I could receive a refund if a minor made an in-app purchase without my consent. Unfortunately for me, all of my in-app purchases were made with sound mind, so I’m out of luck (thanks a lot, Marvel Puzzle Quest).

This refund allowance is a result of an FTC consent order agreement regarding the lack of clear and conspicuous notice that a purchase is being made. This, in turn, is leading to a lack of informed consent to these in-app purchases. Read more about the FTC’s order in this document and Google’s response on their FAQ.

If your minor child did make in-app purchases without your consent, go here to get your refund.

UFC under attack by current and former fighters in class action anti-trust lawsuit:

It takes two things to break the law with regard to monopolies: market power and anticompetitive behavior.

Not going to go into a lot of detail here (you can read the complaint here), but basically a group of current and former UFC fighters have filed a class action suit against the UFC and its parent company, Zuffa LLC. They allege that the UFC has engaged in anticompetitive behavior to maintain their “only game in town” status and force fighters to adhere to their less-than-optimal contractual conditions.

It is claimed that “the UFC prevents fighters from working with other MMA promoters, profiting from individual marketing deals and signing with outside sponsors, all monopolistic practices that suppress fighters’ incomes….”

I would say that it’s video game related due to the fact that the fighters have given up their likeness rights as part of their agreement with the UFC. They’re apparently not getting paid for appearances in video games, and president Dana White even went so far as to “ban” any fighters who would appear in EA’s MMA game, a rival to the THQ UFC games at the time. White has since paired up with EA to make UFC games now, however.

ufc-logo

Regarding the law on anti-trust actions (of which I’m not even close to being an expert), being a monopoly is not, in itself, a crime. It takes two things to break the law with regard to monopolies: market power and anticompetitive behavior. Here, UFC obviously has market power, even though alternatives (like Bellator) do exist. The issue is whether or not the various behaviors alleged by the lawsuit are true and rise to the level of anticompetitive. As alleged, it certainly seems so, but we’ll have to find out as the case progresses.

ESPN has a good article on the subject; check it out.

photo credit: rhodesj via photopin cc

 

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