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Is it illegal to release misleading game trailers or screenshots?

The legal risk is low, and you’re your own best protection

No Man’s Sky screenshot Hello Games

No Man’s Sky is being investigated for misleading players about the differences between the advertised nature of the experience and the reality of the final game. A similar situation happened with Aliens: Colonial Marines as well. The result?

"Sega Europe acknowledged your objection that the trailers did not accurately reflect the final content of the game," a letter from the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority stated. "They agreed to add a disclaimer, both on their website and in all relevant YouTube videos, which explains that the trailers depict footage of the demo versions of the game."

You know things are serious when a disclaimer is added and a letter is written.

So why aren’t these charges more serious? Super Bunnyhop released this great video explaining the whole situation. Please watch, it’s pretty interesting.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but overall it’s just not fiscally or legally risky to pretty up your videos or screenshots in a way that could mislead the public.

My question, and I may be going out on a limb here, is the following: Is this actually a problem? You don’t have to pre-order games. In fact, you shouldn’t. If you’re reading a preview for a game, ask yourself about the situation in which the member of the press is playing the game. Wait for final reviews, or read first-hand accounts from your favorite message board or even just other people on social media.

Doctored trailers and screenshots only work if you abandon reason and, based on that material, decide to give a publisher your money before seeing or playing the actual game, or even reading or hearing from those who do.

Don’t do that. Problem solved. The existing laws, as argued above, likely won’t do much to help.

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