Sat, Feb 23, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Online gamers advised to read laws

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday presented the three most common causes of consumer disputes during online gaming sessions and said that players should acquaint themselves with consumer-related laws for their own protection.

The foundation chose schools’ winter recess period to publicize the laws that online gamers can fall back on when disputes arise, as the number of disputes tends to substantially increase during this time.

Unstable servers, account suspensions, and hacking and theft of in-game items are the three main causes of the online gaming disputes in Taiwan, the foundation said.

The number of people playing online games increases sharply during vacation periods and this could result in server instability, game lag, service downtime, or even game history not being properly saved due to system failures, costing players time, effort or items obtained in the game, the foundation said.

The foundation’s legal supervisor Hsu Tse-yu (徐則鈺) said that according to current regulations, online gaming companies should respond to these complaints and compensate losses as necessary.

Another source of online gaming consumer complaints concern groundless account suspensions.

Many online game companies ban add-on programs for the sake of game fairness, but they depend on the system automatically determining whether an add-on is being used, and this can lead to controversies.

“Players can apply for their game-history records from the service centers of the game companies and are advised to apply within 30 days, as this is the minimum length of time companies are required to keep such records,” Hsu said.

Alleged theft of virtual game items and in-game currency is also another cause of online game disputes, Hsu said, adding that victims of such thefts have had to resort to legal procedures such as judicial investigations and lawsuits, which are time-consuming and a burden on the judiciary.

“Gaming companies can now ask for explanations from the new owner of the allegedly stolen item and have a responsibility to restore the victim’s electronic record if the alleged hacker fails to respond,” Hsu said.

Foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) warned consumers that protection for online gamers offered by the nation’s consumer laws are valid within Taiwan only, so players should be aware that they are exposed to potential risks while playing games on sites that are not registered in Taiwan.

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