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Is Guitar Hero a Gamer Villain?

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 27, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a recently filed lawsuit, one video-game-playing, music-loving plaintiff has filed a lawsuit against Activision due to feeling burned by a recent purchase of Guitar Hero Live.

The lawsuit essentially claims that the Activision has misled consumers into buying the game title because 92 percent of the game will be unplayable in a matter of weeks. That limitation on the game are being imposed as a result of a planned shutdown of Activision's online servers that support the "Guitar Hero TV" mode.

Live No More

When released in 2015, Guitar Hero Live was marketed as an "always-on music video network" that would allow players to access an online stream of songs that they could play along to. While the game itself comes with a certain number of songs that do not require access to the online stream, the fine print somewhat explained that Activision wasn't responsible for maintaining the live server forever.

Unfortunately, as claimed in the lawsuit, gamers/purchasers were not made explicitly aware of this, even after the planned shutdown was announced earlier this year, and were misled into the purchase. As Ars Technica reported, alternative arrangements to stop the online stream could have been made that would not have harmed consumers, such as by licensing the songs for users to download and writing a software patch.

Reasonable Server Expectations

For gamers, in these times when more and more games are entirely based on having online interactions or connections, how this case shakes out could matter big time. For one, the court here could set a standard for what actually qualifies as a reasonable period of time a game maker relying on online servers needs to maintain those servers, especially when initially provided free of charge. In this case, Activision, due to decreasing popularity of the game, presumably, decided that three years was enough.

Alternatively, another important issue could involve how much notice needs to be provided. Activision provided six months, but gamers that purchased the game after the notice did so unaware, which might raise the question of what would qualify as sufficient or proper notice.

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