Germany Outlaws Video Game Pre-orders with Uncertain Release Dates

Germany has introduced a new ruling which requires a confirmed release date on products in order to allow pre-ordering. The ruling came from the Higher Regional Court in Munich following a court case surrounding the pre-order sales of smartphones. This was brought to light through a customer protection claim involving Media Merkt — originally with them enabling pre-orders on smartphones that don’t have firm release dates.

However, this ruling doesn’t stop at the distribution of smartphones. Instead, it extends to all items — including video games. This essentially abolishes the concept of pre-ordering games that are simply labeled as “coming soon,” a practice that the video game industry uses on a regular basis. Games must now feature a latest possible window of release in order to abide by the new ruling.

Speaking on the subject Wolfgang Schuldzinski, CEO of Düsseldorf Consumer, said:

“When consumers order goods on the internet, providers must specify by when the goods are delivered.”

The pre-order market for gaming has become a focal point for publishers in recent years with pre-orders adding the ability for players to gain many exclusive bonuses in exchange for paying for the game upfront. These can span from in-game currency to DLC, or even detailed psychical statues of characters that come packaged with the games themselves. On the tail-end of E3, we have already seen a wealth of games with uncertain release dates; namely CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, which is available for pre-order in the US.

With the pre-order market removed, this could heavily impact the way games are sold in Germany — or even with the industry at large. It will be interesting to see if gaming companies globally now back away from the “Coming Soon” term to match regulations for the relatively large EU market.

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