Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nintendo will kill your Wii U

Nintendo recently changed the EULA for the Wii U.  If you don’t agree to the new version, your console is bricked.  People who bought the console under the original T&Cs have no choice but to agree to the new ones if they want to continue using it. 

When we buy objects, we expect to own them.  It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that we can use them however we like.  As the EFF says:

He may have expected that, like users of the original Wii and other gaming consoles, he would have the option to refuse software or EULA updates and continue to use his device as he always had before. He might have to give up online access, or some new functionality, but that would be his choice. That’s a natural consumer expectation in the gaming context – but it didn’t apply this time.

This is a worrying trend and is not limited to consoles.

Last month, the New York Times reported that some auto loans are accompanied by "starter interrupter" devices that can shut down your car if you're a few days late with a payment or drive out of a designated area. People were suddenly prevented from driving their children to the doctor, stranded when they tried to escape domestic abuse, and in some cases had their cars deactivated while they were on the road. These extreme consequences came without judicial process, and often without notice.

This is bad news for customers because it shifts the balance of power between suppliers and consumers in a direction unfavourable to consumers.  Suppliers can rewrite their contracts with consumers at any time and force their customers to accept it.

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