Terms and Policy Review

One of the bigger digital distribution platforms/shots/websites – for video-games – Direct2Drive closed and merged into GameFly; a newer digital distribution platform with offers on new games, used games as well as a subscription-fee-based model. There are also some free games to check out. GameFly provides a website, in English, as well as a PC, a Mac and a mobile client.

As I had a D2D account (but never used it, as it required a credit card and/or was region-restricted for games availability) the account was moved to GameFly. So I took the chance to read, review and feedback on the Privacy Policy as well as the Terms of Use.

GameFly requires you to have a credit card (not pre-paid) to make purchases as well as to try out the free subscription month. When you pre-order something you are charged when the game is shipped.

Let me take you through the things that caught my eye:

Lack of Terms-Update Notification

The privacy policy as well as the terms of use state that they may be updated any time and without prior or later notice to the user. This is not valid by law in Germany, and I believe also not in the EU.

Amongst the problem for the user: he will not know, this take on updating also has a problem for the provider: If you get into a dispute what should the court base on? How can you know which version of the terms your contract is based on? You can not. Hence, not good to base arguments on.

A notice on updates on terms is a must, for any company and provider. A notice on what actually changed rather than that it changed is of high value to the user. On the other hand, adding a mechanism for the user to accept the newed terms (and saving a timestamp) is of very high value to the service provider.

Don’t trust the information

GameFly offers synopses, reviews, instruction manuals, and user comments pertaining to the games we distribute. Under no circumstances shall GameFly or its shareholders, officers, directors, or employees be held liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information obtained through the Website. It is your responsibility to evaluate the information, opinion, advice, or other content available through the GameFly Site and Services.

How I read that part: We give you the information about the game, but don’t be sure you get what we tell you (when you actually buy it).

Steam had a lot of issues like that in the past, where DRM and content-limitations (missing languages, cut versions) were not presented on the store page. Well … now I got a bad feeling when I can’t even be sure what they write is valid.

Light-heartedly giving away personal information

GameFly may give away all personal and non-personal information about you “to support an investigation”.

Well, wow, that’s a very broad statement. I don’t even like when it’s on a request of the executive. But if you’re not limiting it to “as required by law” (a court ruled the request is valid and you have to give out the information) at least limit it to the executive and/or your own investigation / investigations initiated by yourself.

Closing Words

I know these are typical terms and typical problems on terms, but I still don’t like them. But those are the parts that definitely need improvements, IMHO.

I will try out the client and its free games, just to see what is on the marked as an alternative to Steam and Desura. But as it is only limited to credit cards I will probably not buy anything. Renting goes against my style and liking anyway. But it’s interesting they provide all these matters of distribution; free, fee, buy new and buy used products.

I’m not in high hopes on their reply to my feedback mail (in fact I fear they will tell me they are focused only on the USA marked anyway) but look forward to it non-the-less.

Did you hear about GameFly before? Did you check it out? Did or do you use it and what’s your impression of it? And, did you read the terms? 🙂

Update: The “free games” are actually subscription, flatrate based. Fuck that shit.