Germany now prohibits pre-orders for products that don’t have firm release dates

A stark departure from how things are done now

The video game pre-ordering process just got a little tougher in Germany. In recent years, retailers would immediately list newly-announced games, and customers would pre-order them without knowing when they’d actually release. It’s mostly an innocuous system, as the customers don’t get charged until the game ships. Still, Germany is cracking down on this status quo.

The Higher Regional Court of Munich has recently ruled that retailers can’t list products for sale with generic phrases like “coming soon” or “this item has not yet released.” Instead, they must state when the product is expected to ship. Otherwise, a pre-order can’t be offered. Düsseldorf Consumer CEO Wolfgang Schuldzinski (excellent name) said “When consumers order goods on the internet, providers must specify by when the goods are delivered.”

While this ruling will apply to video games, it wasn’t born out of any particular incident related to games. Rather, it stems from an incident where a consumer protection claim was made regarding a Samsung Galaxy S6 pre-order offer in August 2016. However, this is applicable to all products, and that includes games.

This will be a slight shakeup to the way video games are marketed in Germany. It’ll be interesting to see if retailers completely follow the spirit of the ruling, or if they find loopholes like entering placeholder dates and altering them when real release dates are announced.

Urteil zum Online-Shopping: Lieferangabe „bald verfügbar“ reicht nicht [Heise via Eurogamer]

Brett Makedonski
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