In the case of gamers, it's being part of a discreet group that would all be in similar standing rather than having a statute to sue on. That is, many gamers would be able to sue over game related complaints because of their participation in gaming. In particular, hardcore gamers are likely to own all consoles and be active in all online systems. Therefore, there is a pretty solid group of gamers who could sue Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo if there were actual harms done against large number of gamers.
And that's where the class action idea ties in. Often, these plaintiffs are the entry point to a class action since class action suits tend to be larger and thereby more profitable, especially to a law firm on a contingency fee basis. If you had a group of gamers who were always sufficient to get a class established, which is likely with the right group of hardcore gamers, you could easily have a number of suits filed on that basis.
So then why does this even go on? The unfortunate answer is money. This is not to say that all claims are bogus and all plaintiffs are just in it for profit; far from it. There are plenty of legitimate cases in courts at all times. Nor is it to say all plaintiff's lawyers are just in it for the money; this is again far from the case. However, given the deep pockets of some of these game companies and the ongoing huge revenues, the small minority of people with less than genuine motives for lawsuits would likely see the game industry as a potent new target, just as so many other industries have been in the past. And the stories that make the press are really just the tip of the iceberg; those who have connections in game studios can likely hear some humorous and equally sad stories of some of the threatened and filed suits that range from unusual to downright insane.
It's unlikely that we'll be seeing any fewer reports of these kinds of claims pop up on the radar as time goes on. But there's no major need for concern, as these industry giants have substantial legal teams to deal with these kinds of suits. What should concern consumers would be a series of victories against gaming companies. If plaintiffs are successful, then there are two potentially larger problems facing the industry: are companies becoming more dishonest and predatory, and should we be concerned about the continued viability of those studios with substantial legal settlements against them? Of course, I would certainly hope things would never come to that point, but stranger things have happened.
Mark Methenitis is the Editor in Chief of the Law of the Game blog, which discusses legal issues in video games. Mr. Methenitis is also a licensed attorney in the state of Texas with The Vernon Law Group, PLLC and a member of the Texas Bar Assoc., American Bar Assoc., and the International Game Developers Assoc., where he is a board member of the Dallas chapter. Opinions expressed in this column are his own. Reach him at: lawofthegame [AAT] gmail [DAWT] com.
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