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Legal Gets Their Waaugh On

Dislike the latest trend in EULAs that ‘force you to read them’ by checking to see if you scroll ALLLLLL the way to the bottom before clicking “Yes, I agree to everything you put in this tiny dialog box, including having no virtual property rights, you can ban me at will, installing this game means you actually own my computer now, I’m now forbidden to have children until I unlock a tier 5 dungeon YES YES YES LET ME PLAY”?

Irked that World of Warcraft makes you do that every patch, even though the turgid legalese that actual humans are discouraged from reading hasn’t changed since 2005?

Well, Warhammer Online makes you do it EVERY TIME YOU CONNECT.

Get knocked off the server for whatever reason? You get to read the EULA again!

Oh, and there’s two. A EULA *AND* a Code of Conduct. So the installing this game means you actually own my computer is in the first dialog, and the forbidding you to have children until you get realm rank 17 is in the second dialog. And you have to scroll down, then click accept *every time you log in*.

No, really. This is a feature!

This is intentional for legal reasons. Each time you play WAR, you’re actively using a service and must therefore agree to the terms of that service. Adhering to the EULA and COC is not a once-off flare; it is a continuous commitment. So why not make the procedure of accepting these terms more user-friendly, such as having the ‘agree’ box checked by default? One answer to this is that the less effort required to agree to something, the less is its juridical weight.

 

Whereas being annoyed about this feature is understandable, it may be useful to put things into perspective. It takes me some two seconds to scroll down, check the box and press the button. Repeating this for both the EULA and COC is a five second procedure. Repeating this a couple of times a day and even crashing a few times still only adds up to half a minute of your day. A small price for hours and hours of glorious WAR I’d say.

Personally, I thought my subscription fee was a small price to pay for hours and hours of glorious WAR.

 

In most enterprises open to the public, since the public contains Bad Actors by definition, there is a constant war between security and usability. Password security is a good example of this. If you have no password policy set, your accountant upstairs will keep using “sexy” as his password, never change it, and then three years and five unamused secretaries later, someone will clean out your bank accounts. If you have the Bastard Operator From Hell managing your servers, you have a password security policy that requires it to be at least 16 characters long, contains mixed-case letters, at least three numbers, and at least two punctuation characters, thus ensuring that the only way you can actually get a valid password is using BOfH’s secure password generator keyfob that he ordered from ThinkGeek along with the Darth Maul nerf light saber, and also neatly insuring that no one ever logs into the servers (thus saving the BOfH a lot of time better used playing with his new light saber).

The point being that when you institute a policy clearly concieved and approved by lawyers, you forget that the purpose of your product isn’t to make your company safe for lawyers, but to actually deliver a fun experience for your customers. Forcing 100% of your customers to suffer continued poke-in-the-eye level inconveniences like wrestling with a ha-ha-made-you-scroll EULA boxes every time they connect to your servers on the off chance that when the one pinhead who thinks he can unleash his brother the patent lawyer to litigate back your Cloudsong from that ninja looter comes calling, you’ll have 23% more chance to quash his frivolous lawsuit? That’s just bad math. And bad service.

Although not as bad as EA’s current poke-me-in-the-eye annoyance of sticking ad banners in games without even bothering to disclose it any more. Mercenaries 2, I’m looking at you. I’m pretty sure Venezuela does NOT have a cult of personality revolving around the latest Al Pacino flick, but you wouldn’t know it from turning a corner in Caracas and seeing 5 billboards for the same identical movie. Luckily, in Mercenaries 2 I can blow up those billboards with my tank. To date, I have not been able to burn Warhammer’s EULA with my Bright Wizard.

Update: “Hey, let’s only poke the customer in the eye ONCE.”

First, let’s start with a change to our Code of Conduct. After reviewing the CoC, we’ve decided that it is not necessary to have you click through it every time you enter the game. However, you will need to continue to scroll through the EUALA for the foreseeable future. While we are making it easier to do that it will remain as it is. I’m truly sorry that it is necessary but for now, due to legal reasons, it will still need to be scrolled through and accepted when you enter the game.

Emphasis in the original. Clearly, the law treats EA Mythic MMOs different from Blizzard MMOs, and due to those very real legal reasons, you will continue to have to pretend to read the EUALALALA every time you pretend to kill orcs.

 

Also, apparently I am a whinybutt.