European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) supports by principle the creation of a modern, procompetitive, and consumer-friendly legal framework for a genuine Single Market for Creative Content Online. However in relation to the ambitious goal of the reflection paper paper is too narrow. EGDF is disappointed that the role of the video games as a driving force in an innovative new media is not sufficiently addressed in the reflection paper. The one and only paragraph considering video games in the paper is a good example of common underestimation of challenges faced by the European computer games industry. The description is very thin and not really pure, but reflects the little attention commission has given to the computer games industry during the recent years. This has to change.
Games and more specific gameplay should be protected in copyright legislation from plagiarism. Similarly games should be included in the legislation as their own category equal to e.g. works of visual art or films. Due to complex and territorial management of digital reproduction rights and “making available” rights contemporary European computer games have rarely access to contemporary European music, although on global markets both sides would benefit from closer co-operation. In the end, this situation is hindering the use of European content in European interactive media. Thus EGDF encourages strongly the simplification of European music licensing.
The pure amount of languages in Europe poses a serious problem, as games have to be usually localized. Therefore a licence system should be developed, which would allow a publisher to buy a licence on a game for a certain language instead of certain territory. It should be remembered that for many European languages there are constantly growing global market (e.g. Portuguese, Spain and French). Thus multilingualism is a great opportunity for Europe. Also orphan works exist on the field of games. But unlike on field of books or films, currently there are only few public institutions storing them for upcoming generations. Due to rapid technical development software and hardware required for playing games becomes quickly non-existent or falls apart due to aging. On the field of online games all existing copies of a game are lost when a game studio quits supporting it.
If we do not want the cultural heritage of Europe to end on the eve of the digital age, libraries or museums should be eligible to emulate games so that they are in general able to keep the digital heritage of Europe alive. When the copies are used only for research purposes and they are not made publicly available, these bodies should be eligible to save games for future generations, although copyright owners would be against it.
As piracy affects significantly on games industry, EGDF has been trying to find a sustainable solution to it for years. During last years most of the legislative actions have not brought desired results, fighting against piracy rings and educating public has helped a little, but the best results have been achieved by developing new almost piracy proof business models (e.g. free-to-play online games). The further implementation of these successful business models requires public support to develop them and a well functioning and easy to use European wide payment system, not further anti-piracy measures.
The endangerment of network neutrality places a serious risk for those business models. After the debate considering this package the EP and the EC reached an ambiguous compromise on network neutrality during 2009. The time will show how it will be implemented on the online single market. The French three-strike model, coming from the anti-piracy movement, can be seen as an example of this in this light. It has more to do with the attempt to control the Internet distribution than with a fight against piracy. Some ISPs have already locked or reduced the use of strong online computer games for capacity reasons. This can lead to a situation, where specific independent contend producers have a discriminated position to those who are working directly for the network operators.
The integration of mobile operators, internet service providers (ISPs), telecom companies, broadband technology companies, websites, online shops, online rights aggregators and social networking platforms rises a serious risk of creation of oligopolies in the field of creative content. Consequently, all in all an important source for growth and innovation in this sector is a clear regulatory differentiation between networks and media content. This also means that services based on access subscription should not be tied to a particular ISP.
For game developers, it is highly important to maintain competition on every level of the value chain also by using legislative measures. Currently access to games industry is often controlled by game platform owners. Therefore governments should lower market entry barriers for content producers in Europe e.g. by making sure that the European games industry has equal access to technology and that the access is fair and reasonable for all European companies.
At the moment, rating does hinder the free movement of content dramatically. However, protection of minors is a crucial aspect when distributing games or movies, and it must not be weakened in Europe. As the ongoing digitalization has made game developers one of the main providers of creative digital content for minors, they should also have a central role in the PEGI system. The PEGI system as selfregulatory body should offer real influence in the system for EGDF, so that the PEGI will not be used to create regulatory barriers hindering game developers access to market in favour of game publishers.
In the reflection paper cultural diversity is understood as the co-existence of professionally produced and user generated content. For Europe it is highly important to secure this fruitful co-existence, but if cultural diversity is understood as securing the digital blossoming of all European cultures, one of the most important measures is to make computer games legally eligible for public funding for culture and innovation in order to secure the cultural diversity and technological development.
In addition, in order to promote the creative content online sector the Union has to focus on providing a legal environment in which SMEs can survive and freelancers and independents can operate more freely.
The full statement can be found here: Consultation on content online (EGDF)