What is a End User Licence Agreement (EULA)?
When a games company create a game they will have certain rights, responsibilities and information that they wish players to be bound by and informed of. A EULA provides this mechanism for informing and binding the player of a game to that particular games rights and obligations. It is (if drafted correctly!) a legally enforceable contract which creates legal obligations between players and the games company.
Typically all players of a game enter into a EULA with the games company. When you download a game in the App Store the EULA and Privacy Policies typically present themselves on the start-up screen, acceptance being conditional to playing. For console or PC games a set of papers is included in the box with the game- this is where you EULA can be found.
Why is a EULA important?
EULA’s create legal obligations between players and games companies. In doing so they cover some of the most crucial rights you have as a player- your license to play the game, rights to complain, the protection of your privacy among others. This is the fundamental agreement between you and the company and can restrict the way you can play and use your game. As a legally enforceable contract breaching a EULA grants a right of action against you to the games company. Players are routinely banned for breaching EULA terms.
What does a EULA typically cover?
For most players EULA’s are long. Most are between 5-10 pages, some may include relevant polices and may be more. Given this its not surprising that many EULA’s go unread by players. Like many legal documents they can appear inaccessible or overly wordy. However, as we have stated they are important. What goes into a EULA reflects this.
A short list and an explanation of the typical terms of a EULA are as follows:
- A usage licence: This gives you the right to play the game. This clause also typically clarifies that you do not own the game, what you own is a licence to play the game. This is a legal right granted by the rights holder, the games company.
- Ownership clause: This typically clarifies that you do not own any other rights in the game. Intellectual property ownership (the bundle of rights which form the game) is retained by the games company.
- User Generated Materials: Say you play a football game and you film it and put it on YouTube as a Let’s Play. That grants you rights in the video as a content creator. EULA’s will clarify this in the UGM section, highlighting what’s yours and what remains theirs.
- Licence conditions: Simply what you can and cannot do to the game. Typically you will not be allowed to copy the game, reverse engineer its code or mess with the security protections it has.
- Limitation of liability: THIS WILL BE IN CAPITALS, its good legal practice as these rights are critically important. This covers the company’s liability to you for faults, issues, bugs or more general issues arising from using the game. Its common to see this limited to the fees you paid for the game.
- Indemnification: Should anything go wrong this is the cover you provide to the game company. This typically covers any loss stemming from your breach of the agreement. That’s right- breach the agreement and cause loss to the company and you will be liable.
- Termination: How/when the agreement can be terminated or will terminate.
- Data protection: What data the games company collects from you and how it will be managed and protected.
- Security measures: How the game is protected from tampering.
- Governing law: What laws of which country/state are applicable to the agreement.