Stop Killing Games: Player Advocacy

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The Fight Against Unplayable Online Games: Protecting Consumer Rights and Media Preservation

In the ever-evolving landscape of online gaming, a new battleground has emerged—one where players are fighting for their rights to access and preserve the games they love. At the forefront of this battle is the "Stop Killing Games" movement, led by YouTuber Ross Scott, aimed at challenging the industry's practice of rendering online games unplayable and advocating for consumer rights and media preservation.

Illustration depicting gamers advocating for game preservation and player rights
Image Credit: AVG Antivirus

The Catalyst: Ubisoft's Shutdown of The Crew

The catalyst for this movement was Ubisoft's recent decision to shut down The Crew, a popular racing game that had been active for a decade. The reason cited by Ubisoft was "server infrastructure and licensing constraints," which effectively rendered the game unplayable for its loyal fanbase. This move is not an isolated incident but rather part of a larger trend in the gaming industry where publishers discontinue online games without providing alternative ways for players to continue enjoying them.

The Legal Battle: Defining Games as Goods, Not Services

The crux of the "Stop Killing Games" argument lies in the legal classification of video games. Scott and supporters of the movement contend that video games should be considered "goods" rather than "services." This distinction is crucial because goods, once purchased, come with an expectation of continued functionality, whereas services can be terminated at any time.

The campaign's legal strategy involves urging regulatory bodies, such as France's DGCCRF (Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes), to examine the legality of live service shutdowns. By framing video games as goods, the campaign challenges the industry's practice of rendering games unplayable post-purchase.

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Digital Licenses and Consumer Rights

One of the primary defenses used by publishers is the concept of digital licenses. When players purchase games digitally, they are often agreeing to a license agreement that grants them access to the game under certain conditions. These agreements typically include clauses that allow publishers to revoke access to the game for various reasons, including the decision to discontinue support.

However, Scott argues that these agreements do not absolve publishers of their responsibility to provide ongoing access to purchased games. He believes that the fundamental nature of goods implies a longer-term commitment to ensuring their functionality, even after official support has ended.

The Compromise: Private Server Support

While the "Stop Killing Games" movement advocates for the preservation of online games, it also recognizes the challenges faced by developers in maintaining servers indefinitely. As a compromise, Scott suggests that developers offer private server support when ending official game support. This would allow players to continue enjoying the game, albeit with some features potentially lost in the transition.

The Role of Player Communities and Fan Efforts

One of the remarkable aspects of the gaming community is its resilience and resourcefulness in keeping games alive even after official support has ceased. There are numerous examples of player-led initiatives and fan-run servers that have breathed new life into discontinued games.

For instance, NCsoft's decision to license a fan-run City of Heroes server demonstrates the impact of player efforts in preserving beloved games. Similarly, Velan Studios' approach of providing private servers for its game Knockout City after ending official support showcases a proactive stance towards player retention.

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The Global Impact: A Call for Industry-Wide Change

While the "Stop Killing Games" movement is primarily focused on challenging industry practices in France, its implications extend globally. Scott and supporters hope that a precedent-setting ruling in France or another country could influence industry practices worldwide.

The campaign's success is measured not only by legal outcomes but also by raising awareness and mobilizing players to advocate for their rights. By uniting players from around the world through petitions, complaints, and collective action, the movement aims to create a more equitable and sustainable gaming ecosystem.

Challenges and Progress: Navigating Legal and Regulatory Landscapes

Despite the momentum gained by the "Stop Killing Games" movement, it faces significant challenges in navigating legal and regulatory landscapes. The process of getting government petitions approved can be slow and complex, requiring patience and persistence.

Scott acknowledges the mixed success of the campaign thus far, with complaints filed against The Crew and ongoing efforts to engage regulatory bodies. While progress may be gradual, Scott remains optimistic that at least one department of the French government will examine the legality of live service shutdowns.

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The Future of Online Gaming: Balancing Innovation and Accountability

The "Stop Killing Games" movement shines a spotlight on the evolving nature of online gaming and the need for a balance between innovation and accountability. While developers continue to push boundaries with live service models and digital distribution, players are advocating for greater transparency, longevity, and consumer rights.

As the gaming industry grapples with these complex issues, the dialogue sparked by movements like "Stop Killing Games" encourages reflection and dialogue on the responsibilities of developers, publishers, and regulatory bodies in ensuring a fair and sustainable gaming environment.

In Conclusion: A Call to Action for Players and Industry Stakeholders

The "Stop Killing Games" movement represents a grassroots effort to protect consumer rights and preserve gaming culture in an era of rapid technological advancement. By amplifying the voices of players and advocating for legal scrutiny of industry practices, the movement serves as a catalyst for change and a reminder of the power of collective action in shaping the future of online gaming.

Here are some FAQs related to the "Stop Killing Games" movement and the issues it addresses:


1. What is the "Stop Killing Games" movement?

The "Stop Killing Games" movement is a grassroots initiative led by YouTuber Ross Scott, aimed at challenging the industry's practice of rendering online games unplayable and advocating for consumer rights and media preservation.

2. What sparked the creation of the "Stop Killing Games" movement?

The movement was sparked by Ubisoft's decision to shut down The Crew, a popular racing game, citing "server infrastructure and licensing constraints." This move highlighted a broader trend in the gaming industry where publishers discontinue online games without providing alternative ways for players to continue enjoying them.

3. What is the legal argument behind the "Stop Killing Games" movement?

The legal argument revolves around defining video games as "goods" rather than "services." The movement contends that goods, once purchased, come with an expectation of continued functionality, whereas services can be terminated at any time.

4. How does the movement propose to protect consumer rights and media preservation?

The movement advocates for regulatory bodies, such as France's DGCCRF, to examine the legality of live service shutdowns. It also encourages developers to offer private server support when ending official game support, allowing players to continue enjoying the game with some features intact.

5. What are some examples of player-led efforts in preserving online games?

Player-led efforts include fan-run servers for discontinued games, such as NCsoft's licensing of a City of Heroes server. These initiatives demonstrate the impact of player communities in keeping games alive beyond official support.

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6. What challenges does the "Stop Killing Games" movement face?

The movement faces challenges in navigating legal and regulatory landscapes, as well as in mobilizing collective action from players worldwide. The process of engaging regulatory bodies and advocating for change can be slow and complex.

7. What is the ultimate goal of the "Stop Killing Games" movement?

The ultimate goal is to create a more equitable and sustainable gaming ecosystem where consumer rights are protected, games are preserved, and industry practices reflect a balance between innovation and accountability.

8. How can players get involved in the "Stop Killing Games" movement?

Players can get involved by signing petitions, filing complaints with regulatory bodies, and participating in collective actions organized by the movement. Raising awareness and advocating for change within the gaming community are key steps in driving progress.

9. What impact has the "Stop Killing Games" movement had so far?

The movement has raised awareness about the issue of game shutdowns and sparked dialogue within the gaming community and industry. While progress may be gradual, the movement remains optimistic about achieving meaningful change in the future.

10. What is the outlook for the future of online gaming in light of movements like "Stop Killing Games"?

Movements like "Stop Killing Games" highlight the evolving challenges and opportunities in online gaming. The dialogue and advocacy sparked by these movements are driving discussions on player rights, industry practices, and the long-term sustainability of online gaming.

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