Who is liable for loss of In-App Purchases?


I am currently working on a game, that contains (consumable) items, purchasable via In-app Billing API.
The player’s inventory is (and has to be) stored on my server.
Of course I gave my best, making everything as stable and secure as possible, but let’s face it, sooner or later Murphy’s Law will come into play and some player will lose something. (Worst case: The whole account)
Besides the cases in which it’s obviously the user’s fault, (e.g. password loss w/o access to the associated email address) who is liable?
I see three scenarios:

  1. Data loss caused by bad implementation, or a technical difficutly not well handled. (My fault)
  2. Data loss caused by a 3rd party, like e.g. a hacker (In sooomeway maybe also my fault)
  3. A user “misbehaves” and I have to ban is account.

So, how is the law? Do I have to write a disclaimer, and if so, do I have to make sure that the player read it?
Also, does the US law even apply to my content? (Me, and my server live in Germany - land of the ridiculously complicted laws)

Thanks for any advice :slight_smile:

Any Iap are effectively a contract between you and the buyer (Google is different to Apple in this respect). Therefore the trading laws in your country and the buyer’s country will have an effect. The quick answer is that the buyer is paying you for a service, and failing to deliver that service is proably a breach of law ( such as the sale of goods act in the UK). At least be prepared to refund lost purchases. It is probably also dependent of whether a buyer is in Germany, another EU country or elsewhere.

Btw, are you a VAT registered company? That is about to get a whole lot more complex for EU businesses from 1st Jan


From Jan 1st, any sales made to another European country will require VAT to be paid to the tax authorities in the country of the buyer, not the supplier as at present.

This, combined with Google not advertising apps with IAP as free anymore (to comply with EU law), means that I am abandoning IAP and sticking to ad revenue I only.

Thanks for your reply!
Sounds like warranty for my In-App Purchases is my least concern …
No, I am not VAT registered atm. I was planning to wait with that stuff until there actually is some money to tax :smiley: I used to have a flash game with ads once. I made like 20$ a year …
But back to my original question: Can I avoid having to deal with lost content, by explicitly warning the player, that I don’t refund? (Maybe even with the old familiar “I read, understood and accept the terms and conditions” blabla …)

Not offering refunds in the event of a failure to delivery is almost certainly going to fall foul of trading standards legisation. You can’t override these in your Ts and Cs, this would be classed as unfair contract terms.

So how do the big companies handle this? I mean, even EA can’t guarantee for their services to be available forever.
Does this also mean, that I won’t be able to ban a user, once he spent money on the game, or else I have to refund all his money ever spent?
Like “I am somehow fed up with this game. Whoops hey admin, my account doesn’t work anymore, I want my money back!”

Law changes from country to country so you’re better of looking for advices with a lawyer specialized in international trading but I think you can put in contract some fair reasons a user can be banned (for instance, if he/she breaches the law by trying to hack the system).

Also, if the service is something like a subscription, you can put (at least in Brazil) that if user cancel the service (or if you’re going to stop providing the service) that he will pay pro rata (or that he will be refunded pro rata)