A high court in Germany has instructed Nintendo to give players the option to get digital refunds on games right up until launch.
As it stands now, players who pre-order a game through the eShop can only cancel and get a refund if the game is still seven or more days away from release.
“The voluntary right to cancel a pre-order can only be exercised seven days or more before the release date for the software,” reads Nintendo’s support page.
Norway’s Consumer Rights Council and the German Consumer Protection Authority (VZBV) had previously taken Nintendo to court, claiming this violated consumer laws, but in December 2020 a judge at the Frankfurt regional court decided it was legal.
The decision was then appealed and sent to the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt, which has now overturned the previous verdict.
According to a statement on the VZBV website, the judges pointed out that the EU’s law on the 14-day right of withdrawal – meaning customers have the right to request a refund up to 14 days after purchasing something online – didn’t apply to video games.
Part of Nintendo’s argument was that some of its games can be pre-loaded onto the Switch, and activated on release date, meaning the transaction has taken place by that point.
However, VZBV’s argument was that even if a game has been pre-loaded, the fact it couldn’t be activated until release meant that until that point “the game is worthless for the buyer and the Nintendo contract has not been fulfilled in any way”.
The judges agreed and the appeal was granted, meaning Nintendo was ordered to change its policies. According to VZBV, it has already done this for both the German and Norwegian versions of the eShop.
It’s not yet clear if Nintendo will apply this across all eShops across Europe or the rest of the world.