Monday, March 21, 2011


Sounds like it has something to do with the city of Los Angeles and the European Union, but that's not actually what it stands for (just my uninformed guess). Apparently it means "End User Licence Agreement" or to put it more simply a software licence agreement. It's that legal crap you have to read whenever you install a piece of software on your PC. Although for some reason most console games make no mention of it. Not that it would be understood by most gamers.

I recently had to install the latest firmware update on my PS3 to go online. A rather tedious process which started off mildly amusing when I read the version number (3.60). Dumb number joke aside once the installation was finished the EULA came up and...seriously...the thing was a massive amount of text. I think it would have taken me an hour more to read and understand everything, let alone remember it all. I can't imagine most gamers in their teens able to make much sense out of all the legal terminology. They really need to break these things down into a short list of easy to understand bullet points. Worse yet it seems like the PS3 operating system coders realized that no one would actually take the time to read an EULA and conveniently made it possible to skip it without even having to scroll through the text. Just click "Accept" to move on. Yet we're supposed to be held accountable for all that?

Here in lies the problem. When you consider that even United States judges don't bother to look over an EULA then why should anyone else? These documents aren't exactly quick reads that are easy to fully grasp. Even someone with a profession background in law would probably want to ask a corporate representative about the fine print. Not that you can request for any of it to be changed. Worse yet most companies reserves the right to alter any part of the agreement without your consent or even a warning. Not surprising the entire legality of an EULA is debatable, partly because no United States court has ruled on the validity of an EULA. None-the-less big game publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision can and do use the EULA to enforce their will.

Time to start pirating, you might say? Time to not buy any EA or Activision games, you might also say. I've heard that some gamers even buy legit copies of games like Dragon Age 2, but then never open them. Instead they play a pirated copy of the game so they don't have to deal with the EULA. I can't say any of these strategies are bad. But what really needs to happen here is the writing of some new ground rules by gamers and developers (not publishers though because they're just parasites) as to how things are done in the game industry. Maybe everyone won't get exactly what they want, but then again neither did everyone at the signing of the Constitutional Convention.

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