Belgium Bans Videogame Rentals - UPDATED

Belgium Bans Videogame Rentals - UPDATED

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At the behest of its game publishers trade association, plucky little Belgium has banned videogame rentals in the country.

The decision was actually made in June, when the Belgian Entertainment Association convinced the government that videogame rentals made a "sizable dent" in videogame sales. As a result, beginning that month retail outlets couldn't buy any more games to rent, but were allowed to continue renting their existing stock of games until December. De Standaard Online has now confirmed that the plan is full steam ahead, and in a month, Belgians will no longer be allowed to rent videogames.

The decision may appear at first glance to be a win for publishers, but how it will work out in the long run in anyone's guess. Sales could be pushed down as people are denied an opportunity to legitimately sample a game before they lay down big bucks to buy it outright, or in the same vein, piracy in the region could see a dramatic rise. The only certain aspect of the matter is that gamers are getting screwed, and while my personal position against videogame piracy is well documented, nonsense like this certainly doesn't boost anyone's sympathy for the industry or its efforts to protect itself against copyright violations.

Naturally, gamers in Belgium aren't happy with the situation either. "Dat is rampzalig," said Filip Dossche, who was presumably reacting to the news. I have no idea what the hell that means but he sounds pretty pissed off, and I don't blame him.

Source: Kotaku

UPDATE: Edge Online has updated the story, pointing out that Belgium isn't actually banning games, it's simply creating a situation in which the game rental business is completely untenable.

"What's happening is that video rental stores are declining in popularity, and because of this those stores began to buy retail copies of games and put them up for rent. I can't think of any country that would allow this. Rental outlets need publisher permission to rent out games, and need to buy them wholesale, just like with films," explained Belgian Entertainment Association Managing Director Olivier Maeterlinck. "The point is that stores can still put out rental copies. They just have to get permission to do so."

The obvious difficulty is that game publishers, as averse as they are to game rentals and second-hand sales, are never going to grant that permission. "It will still be legal, yes, but the problem is that it is no longer feasible," a spokesman for GameMania, Belgium's largest game retailer, said. "We cannot establish rental deals with any of the major publishers, and so we will be terminating our game rental business."

(Thanks to Slycne for letting me know.)

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Y'see, this is why the big wars always trample through Belgium early on.

I predict rocketing piracy, given how disappointing many hyped releases turn out to be, I doubt many dedicated gamers are going to fork out when they can permanently rent for free. Any ideas if this is planned to spread elsewhere in the EU?

It means "That is disasterous". And I actually agree with him. Book and movie rentals also have a great effect on sales but isn't that a problem? Videogames are usually pretty expensive and this will leave a lot of people no choice but to pirate them.

I know I would be pissed if I couldn't rent games any more, thats how I tell if their good or not. If the piracy rate was skyrocketing they should at least find another way to stop it not just out right ban it, thats like banning the internet for people being able to download free movies and music.

This will really suck for the people who own a Wii in Belguim. Not as bad for PS3/360 owners since you can download game demos if they wanted to try a game out. They should of thought of banning trading of games though because I think that's hurting the game industry more.

I reiterate: *cough*

This is now no longer news. Please lock at earliest convenience.

Geese whats with all the rumors lately?

I'm guessing this is just a PR stunt by Belgium designed to remind the rest of the world that they do exist.

CUnk:
I'm guessing this is just a PR stunt by Belgium designed to remind the rest of the world that they do exist.

And that they are most certainly NOT French. Just ask Mr. Poirot.

HalfShadow:
I reiterate: *cough*

This is now no longer news. Please lock at earliest convenience.

That makes sense, but it's effectively the same thing as outright banning it, from what I read in the article.

To echo Wombat, Why is The Escapist news staff dropped the ball on the news lately?

Someone message Malygris and get a fix written up. This is misinformation for those who don't read the forum/comments.

Aardvark Soup:
It means "That is disasterous". And I actually agree with him. Book and movie rentals also have a great effect on sales but isn't that a problem? Videogames are usually pretty expensive and this will leave a lot of people no choice but to pirate them.

Yes, like if someone put a gun on their head.

stompy:

HalfShadow:
I reiterate: *cough*

This is now no longer news. Please lock at earliest convenience.

That makes sense, but it's effectively the same thing as outright banning it, from what I read in the article.

Not exactly, but it puts the control in the hands of the publishers. The publishers still don't get any revenue out of any game on rental though, but they seem to be fine with it nonetheless because it's a guarantee that they'll sell a lot of copies to rental chains, although at a cost which has nothing to do with traditional sales. The question is finding the good balance. Publishers would prefer to know they gross money, even if not as much as if games were sold in Game for example, never mind the developers, the losers here, unless the contracts precisely include any sale relative to rental.

There's the whole problem that rental, like second hand game, exploit civil rights and apply them to business, without any much regulation at all. It's a form of exploit which I see as terribly unfair.

Not only selling games, as an individual customer, is barely tolerated, and rental clearly prohibited, but if used for commercial use, there should be strict laws placed there, for trading fairness.

To echo Wombat, Why is The Escapist news staff dropped the ball on the news lately?

Yes, in the late months, news seem to be... erratic and not so interesting. Yet that's pretty much the only thing, along some features like articles and ZP that still bring me there.

Arbre:
Not exactly, but it puts the control in the hands of the publishers.

Which is effectively killing the rental market in Belgium. Well, severely downsizing it, at the very least.

Arbre:
Yes, in the late months, news seem to be... erratic and not so interesting. Yet that's pretty much the only thing, along some features like articles and ZP that still bring me there.

No, it's not that the news is boring, it's that the news staff seem to miss a few things. A couple of instances, like the one about EA's forum policy and this, I've seen the news staff been a bit late, compared to some of the users. I suppose that's what you get when you print online news; yes, news constantly changes, but on the Internet, your reader base can find those changes faster than you can.

It's not the staffs fault. They respond pretty damn fast, usually only an hour or two beyond the usual forum posters. The problem is there's alot of misinformation coming out of OTHER news sources.

TsunamiWombat:
It's not the staffs fault. They respond pretty damn fast, usually only an hour or two beyond the usual forum posters. The problem is there's alot of misinformation coming out of OTHER news sources.

I don't hold it against The Escapist news staff, and still reckon that they provide some of the best gaming news. I don't mean to say that it's their fault, and I'm sorry if it came out like that.

It's just that, lately, I suppose, more incidents of this are popping up. I just don't want to see it become more common is all.

If people can't rent them, they'll pirate them... simple.

 

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