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Nintendo loses court case over eShop pre-order restrictions

After successful appeal by German consumer rights group.

There's a new twist in the long-running saga of Nintendo's Switch eShop cancellation policy - which has for years been frowned upon by European consumer rights groups.

A German court has overturned a previous judgement made in Nintendo's favour, and ruled instead on the side of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV).

The VZBV successfully argued on appeal that Nintendo's current policy of only letting customers cancel pre-orders up to seven days before a game's release was unfair - since, before a game's release, there was no way for a customer to actually test the product, even if it was made available as a download.

"Nintendo had already offered video games for download in its eShop before the official release date," reads a summary of the case published on VZBV.de, translated by Nintendo Life. "The download usually included a software-comprehensive 'pre-load' of the game as well as an icon displayed on the game console. The unlocking of the game took place via update only on the official start date. Such online purchases can usually be revoked within 14 days without giving reasons.

"Nintendo had excluded the right of withdrawal and relied on a legal exception. However, the prerequisites for the right of revocation were not met, as the download made available after the pre-order did not yet contain any usable game. Until the release date, the game is worthless for the buyers and the contract of Nintendo is not fulfilled in any way."

As of today, Nintendo's eShop policy has not changed - you are still obliged to accept its terms that "Nintendo begins with the performance of its obligations before the cancellation period ends" and lose your right to cancel seven days before a game's release.

Eurogamer has contacted Nintendo for comment.

Nintendo only changed its eShop store policy last September to allow pre-order cancellations at all - albeit with that seven-day limit. Before that, payment was taken immediately on pre-purchase - at which point you could no longer cancel.

The inability to cancel pre-orders made via the eShop had been branded illegal by some European consumer rights groups, and the matter was repeatedly taken to court.

For nearly four years, German and Norwegian consumer authorities have been working to get Nintendo's eShop pre-order practices changed. The process to pressure Nintendo into change began in Norway, but then moved to Germany where the company's European headquarters in Frankfurt is based.

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Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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