With Telltale's library slowly disappearing from digital storefronts, more questions about game ownership in the digital age are being raised. What happens when customers who have bought a game can no longer use it?
The effects of Telltale Games’ untimely demise is continuing to reverberate throughout the industry. The latest casualty is Minecraft: Story Mode, which will be losing all support later this month.
In a blog post on the Minecraft site, a staffer announced that the two seasons of Story Mode will be losing all support on June 25. Those who have already purchased either season have been urged to download all episodes before this date.
“On behalf of the publisher, Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series, Season 1 and 2 will no longer be supported on June 25th, 2019,” the full statement reads. “If you have purchased these seasons, please download all remaining episodes prior to the service being discontinued in June.”
This announcement comes just a week after Telltale’s remaining library was delisted on the GOG storefront. Much like that decision, Story Mode’s discontinuation raises questions about ownership in the digital age and what legal recourse customers might have against a nonexistent company.
“It really depends on how the terms of service or EULA were written in each version,” attorney Brandon Huffman told GameDaily, though he’s not optimistic that consumers have any recourse in this situation. “Given the scale of the project, it would shock me if they did not have an iron clad out… The EULA would likely have included the right to shut down the game.”
As Huffman points out, when it comes to digital products, “ownership” doesn’t really mean ownership. “When you ‘buy’ a game, you are usually licensing games under the terms. The same is true for digital download music and movies. There is no actual ownership right.” It’s a scary thought, because customers are spending millions of dollars on digital entertainment, likely without realizing that they’re only licensing it.
Minecraft: Story Mode’s first episode launched in 2015, giving gamers a narrative experience based in the world and art style of the mega-popular Minecraft phenomenon. A second season launched in 2016 and concluded the following year. If you own either or both seasons on any platform — which includes Microsoft Windows, macOS, PS3, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS — make sure you have it on your hard drive or it may be lost forever.
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