Today the folks at Electronic Arts have sent out a message to all iOS users of the app Rock Band saying they’ll not be able to play the game at all after May 31st. This not only proves EA is as The Consumerist said it was in their last annual awards show: the Worst Company in America, it shows the fragility of the app universe as a whole. What EA has revealed to millions of unsuspecting app downloaders around the world is this: when you pay for an application in the mobile world, you don’t actually own the app itself, you just own the license for the app – and your ownership is not indefinite.
Every single app you’ve downloaded from any of the major app stores potentially has a limited license that could expire in the very near future. For the most part you’ve got nothing to fear. It’s certainly not good business to present a bunch of apps that expire after only 2 years on the market as EA has done here, and there’s really not been a substantial amount of other apps that’ve done this same thing in the past. But it certainly has happened.
Be sure to look closely at all the details available to you whenever you purchase an application from any of your major app stores (or the non-major ones too, of course), to see if there is a limited license included with it. The nasty thing about this particular example is the fact that Electronic Arts has not included any such clause or warning with their app in the iTunes App Store. We’re expecting that this is about to change really, really fast.
Otherwise we’ll start seeing class-action lawsuits pushing EA right up against the wall in an instant. Expect them, EA, expect them!