Move Over PIPA and SOPA, Here Comes ACTA

January 23, 2012 -

Silicon Republic points out something we have been talking about here for awhile: SOPA and PIPA are bad, but ACTA is much more dangerous and is about to be ratified by countries in Europe. Several European countries including Ireland, will throw their support behind ACTA later this week, joining the US, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

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European Regulators Want Answers on Carrier IQ

December 6, 2011 -

Watchdog groups and governments in Europe are taking a closer look at Carrier IQ's tracking software, to make sure those mobile phone vendors and operators who use it are not violating users' privacy or the law. The Bavarian State Office for Data Protection recently sent a letter to Apple asking it how it uses Carrier IQ's software.

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EU Commission Grants 2.8 Million Euros to Technology Consortium

October 19, 2011 -

The EU Commission has handed out a 2.8 million Euro grant to four technology companies and two universities to develop the next generation of console hardware. Companies receiving a portion of the grant money include Edinburgh-based Codeplay, Cambridge-based Geomerics, AI company AiGameDev.com, and Greece-based Think Silicon. Germany's TU-Berlin and Sweden's Uppsala University, round out the group.

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Rocksmith Sidelined in Europe by Trademark Dispute

October 14, 2011 -

Ubisoft is facing a trademark complaint filed by a rock band that just happens to have the same name as one of its upcoming products. The claim has forced the company to delay the game in question in Europe and defend itself in court. The French publisher announced this morning that its music game Rocksmith won't be released in Europe until sometime in 2012, citing "music licensing" and "other external factors" as the causes.

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TIGA, EGDF Demand More Support from EU

August 17, 2011 -

UK video game industry trade group TIGA has joined forces with members of the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) to voice its concern that the new EU funding programs planned for media and culture and for research and innovation for 2013 - 2020 do not place "sufficient emphasis" on the video game development sector. The groups voiced their concerns at Gamescom this week in Cologne, Germany.

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TIGA, EGDF Push Game Industry Agenda to EU

May 25, 2011 -

UK games industry trade group TIGA announced this morning that it has formed a partnership with the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) to lobby the European Parliament for "improved access to finance for the video game industry." The EGDF has published a Report (Game Development and Digital Growth) which makes a series of recommendations for the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament. TIGA, along with other EDGF members, are pushing several game industry-related proposals to European policy makers in Brussels today.

Those proposals, according to TIGA's press announcement, include the following:

- Recognize video games as a form of cultural expression and make them eligible in all member states for public funding, as is the case with a growing number of non-European countries.

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EU Commissioner Promises Public Shame to Naughty ISPs

April 19, 2011 -

While Europe might be enacting new telecoms law on May 25, most of the new regulations avoid anything that might resemble net neutrality rules. But one politician is promising to do something to keep consumers happy and protected from the telecommunications industry. Like here in North America, these rules come off as all hat, no rabbit. Still, the EU commissioner promises action of a sort: shame.

European Commissioner Neelie Kroes promises to keep an eye on any Internet problems that might arise from blocking, throttling, or lying to the public about actual connection speeds. If problems arise that can't be solved by changing ISPs, Kroes says she is prepared to legislate. But for now, the good commissioner says that she plans to publically shame ISPs into good behavior.

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EU Rules Says No to Net Neutrality Rules

April 19, 2011 -

The European Commission has decided that it will not pass legislation that makes Net Neutrality principles a matter of law. Instead they said that they would rely on existing law, media coverage outing unfair practices by the telecommunications industry and consumer complaints.

"I am determined to ensure that citizens and businesses in the EU can enjoy the benefits of an open and neutral internet, without hidden restrictions and at the speeds promised by their service providers," said Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda. "I am a firm believer in the principles of competition, which are at the core of the new enhanced telecom rules on transparency, quality of service and the ability to easily switch operators."

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Report: European Customs Confiscating New PS3 Shipments

February 28, 2011 -

According to a report in UK paper The Guardian, European Customs has been ordered to seize "Playstation shipments" because of a preliminary injunction against Sony - the result of a recent patent infringement claim filed with the civil court of justice in the Hague.

Because of the court's ruling, European Customs has been ordered to confiscate any new PS3's imported into the UK and the rest of Europe for at least 10 days.

For now, Sony has to rely on hardware already on store shelves or shipped prior to the injunction. The Guardian estimates that the company has enough stock on store shelves to last two - three weeks.

"We are currently looking into this matter, and cannot make any comments at this point in time," a representative for Sony Playstation told The Guardian.

LG declined to comment, although sources close to the company confirmed with the paper its current legal position.

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JoWooD Files for Bankruptcy

January 11, 2011 -

Austrian-based publisher JoWooD filed for insolvency (the equivalent of bankruptcy in the United States) late last week, ending a long struggle to stay afloat. The company filed for insolvency with Vienna's commercial court for a "procedure of capital reorganization." The company announced on the same day that efforts to shore up capital and equity failed. Despite the filing, JoWooD believes that it can conclude "successful discussions" with investors and its creditors "within 90 days."

JoWooD is also pursuing a lawsuit with Koch Media, claiming that the German publisher "underpaid" for 6.4 million shares it held in 2006. JoWooD claims that the shortfall for those shares amounts to $3.04 million plus interest owed. Under Austrian law, Koch Media would be liable for the shortfall, regardless of whose fault the miscalculation was.

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EU Dumps €275k into Pedestrian Looking "Government RPG"

August 30, 2010 -

The European Service Network (ESN), operating under a budget of 275,000 Euros (approximately $349,000 U.S.) from the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Communication, is developing an online role-playing game—and social networking forum—that it hopes will capture “the essence of European Parliament.”

Named Citzalia, the online experience was compared to Second Life and will have users create an avatar before being able to,  “navigate around a virtual recreation of the actual Parliament, to create content, and to involve themselves in virtual law-making.”

ASA: UK Heavy Rain Ads Not All Wet

May 12, 2010 -

A series of television ads run in the UK for the PlayStation 3 game Heavy Rain rankled a few feathers due to their timing and violence.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reported receiving 38 complaints in response to four Heavy Rain ads, with viewers criticizing the violence of the ads and a perceived glamorization of violence. The objectors also worried that the ads were run at a time of day when children could view them.

The last complaint about the ads was that they were run around the same time that a shop keeper in Huddersfield was killed in an armed robbery. The Heavy Rain ads all depicted a scene in which a shop keeper was repeatedly threatened by an armed man with Heavy Rain character Scott Shelby watching. The versions differed in how the Shelby reacted to the situation; he either intervened, attacked or negotiated with the armed robber.

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U.S. Gamers Play More Than EU Counterparts

September 30, 2009 -

83% of the U.S. population plays games, enough to eclipse their equals across the pond from a small selection of European countries.

GamesIndustry.com recently disclosed results from its Today’s Gamer series of surveys, which polled populations in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Runner-up to the U.S., in terms of the total percentage of the population playing games, was the U.K., with 73%, followed by the Dutch (70%), Belgium (67%), Germany (65%) and France (63%).

U.S. gamers also led the way in hours spent playing per week, averaging 10.5 hours, almost double that of the second place French, who averaged 5.5 hours a week gaming.

In every country surveyed, at least 60% of the population over the age of eight played games. More graphs are available for viewing here. Specific reports for each European country are also available.

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Basing Tax Breaks on Culture Test is Problematic, Says Head of Euro Game Devs

July 6, 2009 -

France and England both mandate that video game projects be culturally relevant in order to qualify for financial incentives. But the head of the European Game Developers Federation told gamesindustry.biz that such requirements make little sense either culturally or as a matter of economic policy.

Guillaume de Fondaumiere (left), who is also an exec with Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream, spoke to gi.biz at the recent GameHorizon conference:

The cultural test is a problem... When you look at [European Union] rules, you have to ask: 'Actually, what is culture?' It's a national decision, so it's kind of weird that we, as the videogame industry, have to work with standards that other cultural areas don't have to follow.

To me, all games are cultural. Videogames aren't just a form of entertainment, but a true form of cultural expression, and I think that in twenty years' time this will be a given. No one will dispute that any more...

We know that tax breaks are extremely effective in stimulating an industry, and I think again that Montreal and Quebec have shown us the way...

So I think it's high time for governments, and the EU, to understand that money given in the form of tax breaks to the industry is not money thrown away. It's an investment with a very high return, so it's time that we had those breaks.

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In Europe, ElderGames Project Completes First Round of Testing

May 27, 2009 -

It wasn't that long ago that Nintendo's Brain Age for the DS was trumpeted as a way to help senior citizens stay sharp. But the European Union's ElderGames project takes the concept of using video games to stimulate aging minds to a whole new level.

e Health Europe reports that ElderGames has successfully completed its first round of trials in Spain, Norway and the UK. The system utilizes a small table with a flat panel display embedded on top. Players sit around the table and play games with one another.

The three-year-old project is funded by the EU and employs a suite of 20 games designed to help seniors sharpen their cognitive, functional and social skills. Each players' progess is tracked over time and caregivers receive early warning of cognitive deterioration. Project coordinator Malena Fabregat told e Health Europe:

There are many studies showing that play and leisure activities correlate to life satisfaction, this is one area where ElderGames has proven itself.

The experts were able to get high-quality individual information from these group activities, which multiplied their ability to monitor and assess the people they were responsible for.

We’ve had some very good reactions to the prototype [from video game companies], we’ll have to see what happens next.


European Union Wants a Two-Year Guarantee on Game Software

May 15, 2009 -

Consumers would be guaranteed that their games would work for two years under a proposal being considered by the European Union Commission.

The BBC reports that Commissioners Viviane Reding and Meglena Kuneva want to expand current consumer protection regulations to include licensed software. Such a move would encompass games as well as virtually every other type of software. Of the proposal, an EU spokeswoman said:

The current status quo, where licensed products are exempt from EU law, is unsatisfactory... On the one hand there is the risk of abuse [by consumers], but on the other it's not a good enough reason to say basic consumer protection should not apply.

While anyone who has struggled to get a PC game to run will appreciate the intent of the proposal, the video game industry has not reacted with enthusiasm. Is anyone surprised? Dr. Richard Wilson, who heads game developers' lobbying group Tiga, told the BBC that the new regulations could stifle innovation:

Consumers need good quality products - that is only reasonable - but if the legislation is too heavy-handed it could make publishers and developers very cautious... Games takes years to develop and software teams often have to predict what new technology will be in place when the game is actually finished.

If there is an onus on developers to have software that is 'near perfect' then it could stifle new ideas as people could end up just playing it safe.

Meanwhile, Francisco Mingorance of the Business Software Alliance had the best line of the day (even if he is spinning the issue of behalf of Microsoft, Apple and other big corporations):

Digital content is not a tangible good and should not be subject to the same liability rules as toasters.

GP: We still have fond memories of those flying toasters from the After Dark screen saver.

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Nintendo Price-fixing Fine Lowered by EU Court

May 1, 2009 -

The U.K.'s Channel 4 News reports that a panel of European Union judges have reduced a price-fixing fine levied against Nintendo in 2002:

The Japanese game maker and seven of its distributors were given fines totalling just over £150 million by the Commission for breaching EU fair competition rules by trying to keep prices artificially high in some countries during the 1990s.

The vast proportion of the total was against the parent company - one of the biggest fines meted out by the EU's powerful fair competition authority to reflect what the Commission said was Nintendo's role as "the driving force behind the illicit behaviour".

But Nintendo appealed to the EU's Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, where judges ruled that the Commission should have taken account of Nintendo's level of co-operation in the price-rigging inquiry.

Nintendo's fine was reduced from £134 million to £107 million.

Via: Edge Online 

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European Parliament to Hold Video Game Conference

April 9, 2009 -

The European Parliament will convene a video game conference next week, reports Edge Online.

The gathering will promote the economic and cultural benefits of the game business. Dutch MEP Jules Maaten (left), who is coordinating the event, said:

Europe has to encourage the further development of creative sectors like the games industry. Everybody would gain from such additional focus: the developers, the economy, but also the consumer and I’m advocating an EU programme for the stimulation of the European games industry.

9 comments

British MP Wants a Red Button on Consoles - Parental Panic?

March 18, 2009 -

A British member of the European Parliament is supporting that body's call for adding a "red button" to video game consoles.

The idea, apparently, is that parents can press the button if some objectionable game content appears onscreen while their children are playing.

GP: Wouldn't it be simpler to just turn off the TV or, better still, check the game content descriptors before allowing the kids to play?

The MP, Glenis Willmott, told This Is Derbyshire:

Research shows video games are useful for educational and medical purposes – and they can be good fun. But not all of them have content which parents will be happy with. Online games, which are easy to download on to a PC or mobile phone, make parental control even harder.

As GamePolitics reported last month, the "red button" recommendation is included in a European Parliament report that is generally favorable toward video games.

Via: DarkZero

29 comments

Euro Parliament: Online Games Should Have a "Red Button" for Parents

February 11, 2009 -

Parents need a "red button" to quickly disable online games that are inappropriate for their children, according to a press release just issued by the European Parliament's Internal Market Committee. 

Parents should have a "red button" to disable a game they feel is inappropriate for their child, says the EP Internal Market Committee... Until PEGI on-line is up and running, the report proposes fitting consoles, computers or other game devices with a "red button" to give parents the chance to disable a game or control access at certain times.

Hey, why wait for development of a red button? Wouldn't the old-school on-off switch work just as well?

On the up side, the EP acknowledges that games can have recreational, educational and even medical value, but the organization wants to equip parents with more tools to pick the games best suited for their children. The EP is also solidly behind the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) rating system:

Different approaches to strengthening control of video games should be explored, argues the committee, but it does not propose specific EU legislation. MEPs believe Member States should ensure their national rating systems do not lead to market fragmentation. Harmonisation of labelling rules would be of help. Member States should also agree on a common system based solely on PEGI.

While the EP specifically states that it does not want to "demonize" video games, it does have concerns about:

  • online games
  • game violence
  • Internet cafes

UPDATE: Reuters has more...

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Matthew Wilsonthe lose of nn would not be good for us, but it will not be good for verizion/comcast/att in the long run ether.04/24/2014 - 2:16pm
Matthew Wilsonsadly yes. it would take another sopa day to achieve it.04/24/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoI am also confused. Are you saying NN would only become law if Google/Netflix pushed the issue (against their own interests)?04/24/2014 - 2:10pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, you are saying a lot of things but I am still unclear on your point. Are you saying that the loss of Net Neutrality will be good in the long run?04/24/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew WilsonOfcourse it does I never said it did not.though over time the death of NN will make backbone providers like Google, level3 and others stronger becouse most isps including the big ones can not provid internet without them. they can peer with smaller isps04/24/2014 - 1:54pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, and that still plays in Google's favor over their smaller rivals who don't have the muscle to stand up to ISPs.04/24/2014 - 1:45pm
Matthew Wilsongoogle wont pay becouse they control a large part of the backbone that all isps depend on. if verizon blocks their data, google does the same. the effect is Verizon loses access to 40% of the internet, and can not serve some areas at all.04/24/2014 - 1:14pm
Neenekolack of NN is in google and netflix interest. It is another tool for squeezing out smaller companies since they can afford to 'play'04/24/2014 - 12:57pm
Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/another-world-rated-for-current-consoles-handhelds-in-germany/ Another World fulfills legal obligations of being on every gaming system under the sun.04/23/2014 - 12:34pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-do-strong-reviews-lead-to-stronger-sales-on-steam/?comments=1 Here is another data driven article using sales data from steam to figure out if reviews effect sales. It is stats heavy like the last one.04/23/2014 - 11:33am
Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
 

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