Half-Life YouTuber plans lawsuit against Ubisoft for killing The Crew

Half-Life YouTube legend Ross ‘Accursed Farms’ Scott, of Freeman’s Mind, is planning a lawsuit against Ubisoft over The Crew’s shutdown.

The Crew servers shutdown lawsuit: A row of cars from Ubisoft racing game The Crew

The YouTuber and film-maker behind legendary Half-Life series Freeman’s Mind is planning a class-action lawsuit against Ubisoft over the shutdown of racing game The Crew. Ross Scott, also known by his channel name Accursed Farms, claims that the closure of The Crew’s servers, scheduled for Sunday March 31, represents a “gray area” in videogame consumer law that he would like to challenge. Scott’s contention centers on the fact that, since The Crew is only playable online, after the game’s servers are closed, it will no longer be accessible to anybody who owns it, whether digitally or via a physical copy. The Half-Life film-maker, who voices a parody version of in his long-running YouTube series, argues that Ubisoft rendered The Crew “unusable and deprived it of all value after the point of sale.”

The Crew was originally released in 2014, but last year, Ubisoft announced that online servers for the racing game would be closed down owing to “infrastructure and licensing constraints.” Although two sequels have since been released, in The Crew 2 and The Crew Motorfest, the original racer will be completely inaccessible as of April 2024. Other service games such as the first Overwatch and Counter-Strike Global Offensive have also been closed down in the last year, to be replaced by Overwatch 2 and Counter-Strike 2 respectively.

Scott, who began Freeman’s Mind in 2007 and has 330,000 subscribers on YouTube, shares plans for a class-action lawsuit against Ubisoft, claiming that the game-maker “took money” from purchasers of The Crew, in exchange for a “perpetual license.”

“I think the argument to make is that The Crew was sold under a perpetual license, not a subscription, so we were being sold a good, not a service,” Ross says in his latest video. “Then the seller rendered the game unusable and deprived it of all value after the point of sale. It’s possible that argument won’t hold up either, in which case I think there’s no possible way to stop this practice, at least in the United States. But to the best of my knowledge, this angle has never been tested in court and might actually have some teeth.

“This is a high-profile game that was sold in stores under a perpetual license, and the buyers are going to be left with nothing. This is about as perfect an opportunity as we’re going to get to challenge the system on this.”

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Scott invites viewers who have paid for copies of The Crew to email him. His initial goal is to judge the amount of potential plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit before potentially establishing a fundraiser to cover legal costs. Scott says that while he does not necessarily expect a court to rule against Ubisoft, a legal case has the potential to turn a “gray area” of videogame consumer rights into a “black-and-white issue.”

“A decent analogy for games as a service is…you buy the car, but there’s a line in the fine print which says they can destroy the car whenever they want, but they won’t tell you when,” Ross argues. “Then some time, usually a few years down the line… they send a signal to your car that melts down the whole thing into a lump, so it’s completely unusable.

“One of the things that frustrates me about games as a service is that they’re a legal gray area. No-one can say for certain that destroying a game you paid for is legal, because it hasn’t been challenged. By challenging its legality, we could turn this into a black-and-white issue. If we lose, I want to lose hard. If there’s no chance of stopping this, I want a judge to say to our faces that when we buy videogames we have no consumer rights and no ownership over what we pay for.”

The Crew servers shutdown lawsuit: Two cars ram into one another in Ubisoft racing game The Crew

Ross also considers the possibility of Ubisoft proposing a no-fault settlement, whereby it would offer a monetary remedy to the lawsuit’s plaintiffs without admitting fault. Scott says he would resist accepting such a settlement.

“In that scenario, if I have any say in the matter, I will push to not accept any offer like that,” he explains. “The point is actually bigger than the game and bigger than Ubisoft. I’m trying to stop games people want to keep and pay money from being destroyed.

“There is one settlement that I’d accept, which is to patch The Crew to make it playable without further support from the company. If they go that route, which I bet they won’t, then we have a procedure established for how to sue a company over the next big game shutdown.”

The Crew servers shutdown lawsuit: A sports car from Ubisoft racing game The Crew

The end-user license agreement (EULA) for The Crew outlines states that the game is “licensed” rather than sold, and stipulates that Ubisoft may alter the terms of the agreement at any time. Ubisoft grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensed, non-commercial and personal license to install and/or use the product… for such time until either you or Ubisoft terminates this EULA,” the license says. “This product is licensed to you, not sold.”

After posting his initial video, Scott says that he has received a variety of responses offering advice about legal proceedings and sharing receipts for purchased copies of The Crew. The YouTuber also says that without assistance, he will not be able to proceed with the lawsuit.

“I’m getting a lot of multi-page emails about possible legal proceedings and dozens of people claiming they have receipts,” Ross says. “I do want to emphasize that if I don’t get the help I need, then there will be no fundraiser, there will be no lawsuit, and this practice will continue unchallenged, at least in the US.”

PCGamesN has contacted Ubisoft and will update this story with any further information or comment.

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