What’s shaping the agenda for the interactive entertainment industry in 2020?

Written on 5 Feb 2020

2020 is shaping up to be a year of intense change and competition in the interactive entertainment industry –  the streaming and subscription services that are coming online are trying to pose a significant challenge to traditional consoles, but equally the next generation of consoles, such as Sony's PS5, will raise the bar once more for gamers.

Meanwhile, mobile gaming, virtual and mixed-reality games technologies and the development of the in-game economy will be driving further disruption in the sector.  Diversity and inclusion will also be a big issue, as the sector looks to widen and retain the breadth of talent working in it, and as new distribution models for games ever widens, so does the challenge of protecting underlying rights. When looking further forward, sitting alongside all of these developments, is the increasing amount and scope of regulation that is coming down the line – platform regulation, such as the Platforms for Business Regulation, will soon be in force, gambling regulation will be under review, not to mention the step-change in consumer rights and enforcement that the New Deal for Consumers will bring.

In this series of articles, our interactive entertainment experts provide insights on some of the issues and trends that will be shaping the legal and regulatory landscape over the coming year.

Loot boxes: minimising your risk in a changing landscape

The first article in our series looks at loot boxes. In December, the Queen's Speech confirmed that the UK government will carry out a review of the Gambling Act, with a focus on tackling issues around online "loot boxes" and their targeting of children. This is the latest development in growing UK and international scrutiny of loot boxes and an apparent move away from self-regulation.

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Subscriptions and finance: are you playing by the rules?

The subscription model is well-established for providing all sorts of entertainment services, but when it comes to providing hardware, the regulatory picture becomes more complex. In the second article in our series, we focus on the regulatory challenges surrounding finance models for providing games.

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Nintendo switches it up with website blocking injunction

Our third article reports on the latest in the long-running challenge of combatting video games piracy. Nintendo has obtained a UK website blocking injunction against innocent third party ISPs, compelling them to block access from the UK to third party websites that were providing preloaded USB dongles (and a 'jig' tool) and circumvention software.  The software allowed users to 'jailbreak' Nintendo's Switch consoles by circumventing Nintendo's encryptions, enabling them to play pirated games that infringed Nintendo's copyright works, as well as, 'homebrew' games. All websites were considered to be targeting the UK and used Nintendo's trade marks.

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Games and the future workforce

The video games industry, with its need for a steady stream of highly skilled, innovative and creative talent, has to make sure that the decisions it makes today can create a workforce for the future that can deliver growth and prosperity. The challenge takes in a wide range of considerations, including diversity and inclusion, remote and agile working, workplace transformation, the automation of work, retention of talent, crunch culture, immigration, and the "gig economy". Two emerging areas of focus for the industry as it looks to "future-proof" its workforce are neurodiversity and the employment status of its workers.

In our fourth article in this series, we look at two of today's emerging areas of focus for the sector  – neurodiversity and tax status of off payroll workers – that studios and games businesses should keep an eye on for the future.

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Q&A | Arbitration and the video gaming industry

One potential effect of Brexit is that more parties could opt for arbitration instead of litigation as the method of choice for the final determination of disputes. In the final article of this series, Greg Fullelove, co-head of the International Arbitration Group at Osborne Clarke, explains why arbitration is an attractive option for the video gaming industry.

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