/ Shopping, Technology

Should we show glitchy games the red card?

Game play screen shot from Fifa - Photo courtesy of EA Sports

Buggy, broken video games. It’s something I’ve come to expect, and Fifa 13 is the latest to be plagued by the issue. Usually you just wait for a patch but, when that doesn’t fix all the issues, why can’t you get a refund?

Since Fifa 13 was released there’s been an ever-growing list of bugs reported. Disappearing footballs, invisible players and game crashes. I’ll be honest, I’m not a Fifa fan (I’m more of a shooter and adventure game player). However, we have had complaints sent to us, like this one from Lawrence:

‘The game is in an appalling state with an increasing number of issues the more you play. System crashes are the worst and the game is virtually unplayable. Daily I have been checking the official EA Fifa 13 forum and there are thousands of people complaining that they cannot play at all.’

The game has sold more than six million copies worldwide – this is a big blockbuster of a game from one of the biggest publishers in the industry. Is that what we should expect from Electronic Arts (EA) and the 20th game in the Fifa series?

Game updates fix bugs

It’s becoming all too familiar this gaming generation. Developers seem to be releasing games in the comfort that they can provide post-release software updates to fix glitches. Don’t get me wrong, fixing bugs after games release is certainly a good thing. Yet, if it’s relied upon, it can create a culture of buggy games hitting shop shelves.

And so Fifa 13 is the latest in a long list of ‘broken’ games. But with so many angry gamers fed up with the bugs, this particular video game was picked up by BBC Watchdog. EA Sports was forced to respond in an open letter.

The letter claims that Fifa ‘goes through a rigorous, year-long testing process that logs thousands upon thousands of hours of evaluation to ensure a high quality experience at launch and all season long’. After releasing a ‘major update’ to the game on 19 October, EA says that ‘game crashes and other issues dropped by more than half’.

Fifa 13 game crashes

According to our Twitter followers, many bugs are still there. HeeD (@__HeeD__) told us:

‘The problems with the game are a joke. What’s the point in having the best football game ever, but you can’t play it!!!!!!’

Hayley (‏@hpearce10) agreed and now has buyer’s remorse:

‘Can’t believe the amount of things wrong with this game this year. Understand things can go wrong, but this has been crazy. Wish I’d never bought it.’

EA promises that it is committed to addressing ‘necessary fixes to improve the FIFA experience as quickly and effectively as possible’. But for many, it’s too late. So can you take your game back and get a refund?

Refund rights for glitchy games

Unfortunately, your legal position isn’t clear. EA isn’t obliged to provide a refund, and in any normal circumstance you’d take a faulty product back to the retailer. But as the game disc itself isn’t faulty, the retailer may take some persuading. Still, it’s worth giving it a go and telling them the game isn’t fit for purpose or of satisfactory quality under the Sale of Goods Act. Or that it wasn’t created with reasonable care and skill under the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

I think it’s time we stopped accepting such sub-standard products. We need stronger rights to offer us greater protection from glitchy video games, otherwise we’re going to be left with a pile of discs and nothing to play.

oxchris says:
2 November 2012

I think this sort of thing is always going to be subjective. Next people will want a refund on a book because the plot was rubbish. It’s not like games aren’t extensively reviewed nowadays so that these sort of issues should be well known in advance of purchasing. Be thankful games get updates nowadays!


What? It’s nothing like complaining about a book plot being rubbish. At least you could actually read the book properly to make that assessment. This is more like complaining that words are missing from the book altogether.

If you bought a product that doesn’t work as it shod, you would take it back for a working model or a refund. Why should software be any different?


Do you play Fifa, obviously not.

[Hello Tom, please don’t write all in capital letters. Thanks, mods.]

Stevo says:
28 January 2013

How can you say that?! We pay good money for these games. They increase in price each time a new console is released as well. You can only compare it to a book if the book is unreadable somehow. Technology, particularly in the gaming industry is supposedly advancing but it is clearly coming at a price. As the graphics may get slightly better, the smoothness and overall gameplay becomes more and more laggy and buggy so you end up having to turn the console off at the plug. EA in particular has had appauling online servers for a number of years now and its about time they faced the problems that we, the whole reason they are surviving in this money stricken climate, are having everytime we play their games.


The sad truth is companies have budgets and timetables and will push stuff out of door by a certain date regardless of what the quality is like, knowing full well that the majority will be happy to get the game and download patches. And people will probably forget this if they get the next release right.

I worked for a financial software company and I was appalled at the quality of software that was released all because a sales person had agreed a delivery date in the contract with the client. And 99% of the time with features which didn’t exist at the time of the sale and we only get to know they should be in the software days before the delivery. I remember the development team working a bank holiday weekend so we could courier a patch out first thing Tuesday morning knowing the client wouldn’t have loaded the software but at least we met the delivery date. MADNESS. Know wonder the company is going down the pan. You can’t treat customers like that and expect to get away with it in the long run. And we’re talking software and that cost the best part of £500k + ( as an aside on one day we delivered the same software one to a client in Hong Kong for HK$35k and one in the USA for $1.5m )

Dark_Overlord says:
3 November 2012

You can get a refund, I got one at Tesco as i complained about trade and standard laws.


Interesting David, do you remember exactly what you said. BTW we had to remove your comment as it broke our commenting guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines