Nothing Is Constant But Change

Published August 22, 2013

We reported last fortnight on the case of Florida lawyer Scott Weiselberg, who decided to rent the Adam Sandler film “Big Daddy” on his iPhone in 2010 but downloaded the high-definition version of the movie before discovering his iPhone did not support HD playback, and he therefore brought a class action lawsuit to recover Apple’s purported “millions of dollars in undeserved profits” from unknown others who presumably made the same mistake.

Equally upset this time around is video game player Justin Bassett, occupation unknown, who is suing Electronic Arts over the 2010 version of its online interactive video game “NFL Football” and five other online video sports games dating back to 2008.

Because the games Justin purchased – at up to $59.99 each, probably less than the average NFL single seat single game ticket price – have real players’ names attached to the players’ avatars and sports teams change players all the time, many fans buy updated versions of the game. Who, after all, wants O.J. Simpson at running back when you can get Adrian Peterson instead?

The result is that an online video game player who uses last year’s version must find an online partner who’s also using last year’s version, and neither of them can play if Electronic Arts stops supporting the online version of that particular year’s game. (We’re pretty sure, for example, that O.J. Simpson is no longer in the lineup.)

At some point, inevitably, Electronic Arts stopped supporting one or more versions of one or more of Justin’s games, and Justin was so upset that he brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of similarly suffering players. Had he known “at the time that he would not be able to play the Products online after a certain period of time,” Justin alleges, “he would not have purchased the Products or paid the price he paid for the Products.” (In the same way, we suppose, had Chicago Bears fans known their team would not win a Super Bowl title in 2012, they would not have bought season tickets.)

Actually, were Electronic Arts to attempt to support its games in perpetuity, Justin and every other player would pay a whole lot more for each of the games they buy, because continued support is not cost-free. But after Electronic Arts finishes shelling out for legal fees and any settlement in Justin’s case, it will have to charge more for games going forward anyway.

Source: Kevin Underhill, “I Can’t Play NHL 2008 Online Forever, Plaintiff Complains“, Lowering the Bar, July 31, 2013.