In what turned out to be an April Fool’s prank, Gamestation modified its Terms of Service to include a provision that required users to sell their soul to Gamestation before they could make any online purchase. Pretty amazing prank! What’s more amazing is that nearly 90% of the users agreed! One can only speculate as to whether these user’s didn’t care about their souls or didn’t read the Terms of Service. But it is likely a safe bet that many didn’t bother to read the terms.
Gamestation of course announced the prank and stated that it does not intend to enforce the so called “immortal soul” provision. So these users got off easy. But such may not be the case if there was a real dispute. As Blizzard demonstrated when it successfully sued MDY (for use of a bot that helped users level up in World of Warcraft without actually playing, the Terms of Service can be outcome determinative in the event of a real legal dispute.
All pranks aside, it is critical for Virtual World and Online game companies to protect themselves and users through effective Terms of Service. It is also important for users, and businesses operating in these online spaces to understand the terms.