Using vague terms such as "coming soon" has recently been outlawed in Germany. Pre-sellers must now give a specific date.
The term pre-sale is a common one in the gaming world. We are almost always aware that a new game is coming long before we know exactly when we are going to get our hands on it. That doesn't stop excited gamers from pre-ordering titles though, even when there is no release date specified and sometimes before the game has even been completed.
A lot of the time, gamers are enticed into pre-ordering their games by a special offer. A character or item in the game that is only available to those who pre-order it. Well, in Germany, those days have come to an end. The country has recently made it illegal for companies to simply say a product is "coming soon" in order to entice people into pre-ordering the product.
As reported by NeoGAF, the Munich Regional High Court ruling has come about following a reseller being taken to court over excessive delivery delays. Now, if a reseller wishes to sell a product before its release in Germany, it must specify when exactly the customer will physically have it. Resellers unable to specify a delivery date will technically be breaking the law by not doing so.
These new laws don't only apply to the video game industry of course. The area that will most be affected by the changes is the real estate industry. It is commonplace to start taking payments before a home has finished being built. However, if that happens now and the property is not complete on the date specified then the buyer is entitled to a full refund. That's a lot of pressure on those doing the construction work.
Germany does not mess around when it comes to laws that protect the nation's customers. On top of the new pre-order based ruling, there are a number of other rules in place that are intended to protect the consumer. There is already a nationwide returns policy that allows customers to get a refund on products without having to give a reason for doing so, within a certain amount of time of course. Now those customers will be able to get refunds if they don't receive their pre-orders on time too.