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Games Industry Law Summit - roll call, user reviews, events get re-scheduled

Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit - roll call, user reviews, events get re-scheduled
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #60 • View online
Thanks to the efforts of CD Projekt RED and Netflix, the majority of us are now familiar with at least one writer out of Poland: Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of The Witcher series.
May I recommend another Polish writer: Stanislaw Lem, whose books have sold over 30 million copies worldwide (but that was before Netflix or Amazon Kindle Store).
Lem is famous for his novel Solaris published in 1961 (eleven years later it was turned into a cult film by another creative genius, Andrey Tarkovsky; and then, thirty more years later, into another film – a further departure from Lem’s original vision, directed by Steven Soderbergh).
Lem is also known for this metaphor on the modern progress that he shared in one of his last interviews:
– What’s your opinion on the modern progress? Humankind is conquering the space, the speed of progress is accelerating…
– If you ask a person who fell from the tenth floor and is currently passing the third floor about their progress, that person can be very optimistic, and will also report that their progress is accelerating.
Anyways, the reason I remembered Lem was because of his other, lesser known novel called Eden (if you decide to buy it, this will be the best $10 that you’ll spend in a while!), where a spaceship crash-lands on an alien planet and the Captain starts with a roll call:

Roll call
Over the last few days, Alma and I were doing our own roll call for the re-scheduled dates of the Summit (November 4-6, 2020), which went a bit like this:
Roll call”, said Alma.
Here,” said the general counsel of Epic Games.
Here,” said the general counsel of CD Projekt RED.
Here,” said the general counsel of CCP Games.
I’m here,” said the counsel of Gameloft.
And here, that’s two hundred and fifty six,” said the deputy general counsel of Wargaming.
All present and accounted for. Congratulations.”
As of today, we’ve contacted each and every registered attendee, and have completed the re-booking of everyone who already responded. 5 people out of 256 thus far are unable to make it in November and we gained 5 new attendees who couldn’t come in May, but are now in the position to come in November.
In the words of the Captain, then: Congratulations! – and thanks for being so understanding! Collectively, we just managed to re-schedule a pretty sizeable event within a week’s time, in tune with games industry’s overall agile approach.
Some good news about the re-scheduling
As we were working on re-booking the guests of Hotel PACAI, the newest five-star property in Vilnius Old Town, their management drew our attention to the fact that November is a lower season than April/May, and thus the rooms will be re-booked with an additional seasonal discount – so if you’re staying at PACAI, your travel budget just improved a little.
State of emergency in LT (helpful for refunds)
We’ve spoken with a few games companies and law firms who hold travel insurance for their April/may flight tickets, and one thing that was mentioned as being handy for a refund/change of travel dates was something that confirms the official reason for this. Here (a .PDF via WeTransfer) is the official letter from us, that relies on the state of emergency declared by the Republic of Lithuania last week, in case you’ll find this helpful as well – and if there’s anything else that we can do, just let us know!
GeForce Now (or Later)
Earlier in the week, a developer of The Long Dark – a very successful game (91% positive rating out of 55,000+ reviews on Steam, and over 1 million Steam owners) had this to say about Nvidia’s GeForce Now:
Raphael van Lierop
Sorry to those who are disappointed you can no longer play #thelongdark on GeForce Now. Nvidia didn't ask for our permission to put the game on the platform so we asked them to remove it. Please take your complaints to them, not us. Devs should control where their games exist.
Following a small-ish review bombing (see below), the discussion crystallised around the fact that nobody really knows how to treat GeForce Now: is this a platform? Do they need a license? Are consumers entitled to using it without any approval from the developer?
It’s a bit like the old good “I want to re-sell my Steam game because I own it, like I own my Nintendo cartridge” discussion with a new twist, and we’ll probably see more of it in the months to come.
A $50 charge for a "defamatory review"
Speaking of user reviews, there’s this crazy story out of Australia about a motel that charged its guests $50 for what the motel decided was a “defamatory review”. Thank goodness, this cannot happen in video games because smaller operators (i.e. studios) simply do not hold the same power to “just charge ‘em!” over the users.
What can (and what does) happen, though, is developers banning users from their multiplayer games over “revenge reviews” (the term was invented by one particular studio that’s active on Steamworks Discussion Forums).
And while we talk about Australia, if you’re already on the Summit’s Discord (open to attendees of the previous editions), you might have seen HBL Ebsworth’s Michael Boughey respond to the motel story with related news:
And speaking of the devil, perhaps … the ACCC’s 2020 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities list has been published. Competition and consumer issues relating to digital platforms are second only to those in the funeral services sector this year! The 2019 Digital Platforms Inquiry report outlined the ACCC’s concerns about misleading conduct concerning collection and use of personal data. Also expect more action on consumer guarantees and refund obligations, no doubt. 
When I opened the document, I thought that the first icon displays someone trying to boot up their CD-ROM driven games console –
– but, well, hmm, that’s no console. The original document is here (thanks, Michael!).
Industry events cancelled (and not)
GDC 2020 is “postponed”, with a possibility to refund the hotels at no charge and an option to move your ticket forward or get it refunded. I hope someone informs Jas Purewall, who was last seen boarding a flight to San Francisco with the intention of having a “workation” there.
Nite to Unite is moved to “fall 2020” for the same reason. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t fall on November 4-6, because we share quite a few sponsors with this event (Frankfurt Kurnit, MSK and Perkins Coie)
On contrast, Reboot Develop re-affirmed its commitment to keeping the event as originally scheduled (6 ½ weeks from now), which seems like a bold gamble for what I think is currently the best developer event internationally.
Out of curiosity, I checked the situation with COVID-19 in Croatia:
25/02 – 1 case
26/02 – 2 cases
29/02 – 7 cases
02/03 – 8 cases
03/03 – 9 cases
It does sound like the event may still have to be re-scheduled, because the first flights to Zagreb started getting cancelled from today, and if eventually a significant part of speakers won’t be able to come (e.g. Google does not allow its staff to travel internationally unless absolutely necessary, and so on), there won’t be much choice.
And where Croatia has 9 cases, Seattle already has 9 deaths from COVID-19. Which does not seem to affect the plans of Emerald City Comic Con (on the photo above, in 2019) to run its Seattle event a week from now.
We’ll see how that works out for them (and for Seattle): while some exhibitors already started pulling out (e.g. Dark Horse Comics), a lot of attendees seem to have non-refundable flight tickets and accommodation, and they have no intention of giving these up. As if we needed another proof of the inability of humans to get the meaning of risk prevention and negative outcomes.
Speaking of COVID-19...
I give you this without comment:
Notes from Poland 🇵🇱
"The Polish economy could benefit from the #coronavirus crisis," claims the entrepreneurship minister.

However, the Warsaw Stock Exchange had its worst week in over a decade, while the WIG20 index fell 15.6%, almost its biggest ever weekly drop
Then there’s this clever video from Iran that shows the blind spots of hand washing by using blue paint instead of a soap.
And, finally, this article is pretty much all you need to read in order to give up on the comparisons of COVID-19 and flu.
It’s all about math: if the new virus is as infectious as flu (but it’s x2-3 more infectious!) and if only the same percentage of population gets infected as flue infects (8%), then the UK will need a bit over 1,000,000 hospital beds for difficult cases. Meanwhile, the whole of NHS has only 140,000 beds across the country.
The shortest takeaway is that fatality rate is not a property of a specific virus, it’s the outcome of a health system working to deal with the virus; and as we’ve seen in China, there’s a 30-time (that’s thirty!) difference in mortality rate in Wuhan and outside of Wuhan that shows what happens when a health system gets overwhelmed.
Anyways, please do stay safe – and we’ll be in touch next week with more industry updates.
Let me wrap this with these images via Ketnipz:
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
(c) Ketnipz
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Sergei Klimov

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