Gamers' Voice, a consumer group set up by Tom Watson MP back in 2009, has issued an open letter to the Office of Fair Trading, comparing Activision's recently-released Call of Duty: Black Ops game to a broken fridge.
In the complaint, the group alleges that Activision shipped the PlayStation 3 and PC ports of the popular first-person shooter title in a near-unusable state. The group points to multiple complaints of poor multiplayer performance on those platforms, including disconnections from gaming sessions, a complete inability to join sessions, and crashing and freezing bugs on both PS3 and PC.
"This [multiplayer] element of the game is its major selling-point and can be the sole reason why people would purchase it," the letter states. "With it not functioning as intended, we can only conclude that as a product it is faulty and should not have been released in this state.
"To make a comparison to a more familiar product, it is akin to buying a fridge-freezer only to find that the freezer component doesn’t work," the group opines.
To prod Activision, which has been slow to address gamers' complaints, into action, the group goes on to make a formal complaint to the OFT, stating: "This complaint is on the basis that Activision UK Ltd are in breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) which states that when a consumer buys goods they must be: as described; of a satisfactory quality; and fit for any purpose made known at the time of sale to the seller.
"It is clear that Call of Duty: Black Ops for the PlayStation 3 and PC is not ‘as described’; of a satisfactory quality or fit for purpose i.e. to entertain, which was stressed at the time of its release."
With Microsoft's Xbox 360 enjoying a largely pain-free gaming experience, and the company having entered into an agreement to get first dibs on downloadable content for the title, gamers on other platforms are clearly feeling short-changed at Activision's actions.
Although the company has issued patches which address some of the issues raised by the complaint, users are still reporting problems. So far, Activision has yet to issue a formal statement on the issue, or on the actions of Gamers' Voice.
Having received the complaint - the full text of which is available on the Gamers' Voice website - it is now up to the Office of Fair Trading to decide whether to start an investigation into Activision's conduct.