Key legal issues for games businesses

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Each of the 27 European Union member states has different mandatory legal requirements protecting players, and these requirements generally apply to the terms that games businesses enter into with them (often referred to as ‘terms of use’ or ‘terms of service’). The most common areas that are subject to the varying laws are limitations of liability, requirements for local language, indemnities, one-sided provisions generally and restrictive choices of governing law and jurisdiction.

If a games business does not meet these legal requirements then those terms could be rendered unenforceable (leading in some cases to unlimited liability or at least uncertainty of terms), and also local consumer protection bodies can apply sanctions causing cost and potentially fines. In many cases, competitors can trigger this through submissions to regulators.

Also, in Europe, partly due to the approach of the press in key markets, small print is increasingly seen as a brand issue, with many games businesses using ‘plain-speaking’, ‘FAQ’-style approaches that support their brand and ethos. One only has to look in adjacent sectors and consider the likes of Instagram to see how poorly conceived small print can drive brand damage and, ultimately, shareholder loss…

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