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Digital Consumer Rights

Last week's Queen's Speech was widely reported in the press, media attention focussed on headline policies such as immigration, social care, pensions and national insurance. One thing that appears to have slipped past the majority of the mainstream press, is the Consumer Bill of Rights.

The Guardian did mention this in an editorial. In their article they suggest that the new bill will give greater protection to consumers who download films, music or games. According to their article a consumer must receive a refund if an online game freezes or a film is unwatchable. I'm not sure how this could be enforced, but I'll watch the legislation pass through parliament with interest.

This will have major implications for the online gaming industry that can suffer from performance related problems when a new product launches. For example EA would have been liable when the recent Sim City launch encountered problems due to high user loads last month, Blizzard Entertainment would have been liable when Diablo III failed and Sony could have faced calls for compensation when PlayStation Network was shut down due to a security breach in 2011.

All of these companies could have benefited from a thorough programme of application testing. This should have included functional and security testing as well as performance testing, to ensure that their application servers could scale appropriately to meet anticipated demand. This should be coupled with detailed application monitoring to allow remedial action to be taken in the event of performance problems at launch time. Perhpas this new government initiative will finally force content providers to test more thoroughly, what do you think?

 

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