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Valve and game developers have a bit of a fight on their hands here, with a French court ruling that Valve should allow users to re-sell their digital games.

Reported by the French website Next Inpact, the French consumers group UFC Que Choisir had a victory against Valve as French courts have ruled against them on the topic of reselling digital content. From what I've read and tried to understand, the courts have basically said that when you buy something on Steam it is indeed a proper purchase and not a subscription.

Valve has been ordered to pay damages at €20K plus €10K to cover some costs. On top of that, they will also have to publish the judgement on Steam's home page (presumably only for users in France) and for it to remain visible for three months. If they don't, they will get a fine for each day of €3K. To Valve though, that's likely pocket change. The bigger issue though, is how other countries inside and outside the EU could follow it.

Speaking to PC Gamer who got a statement from Valve, they are going to fight it. Of course they will though, they could stand to lose quite a lot here and it would set a pretty huge precedent for other stores like GOG, Epic, Humble, itch and all the rest.

There's a lot to think about with this situation. Valve could end up changing the way they deal with this, just like they did with the nicer refunds option which came about after legal issues too. Imagine being able to sell and transfer a game over to another Steam user. Valve could take a cut of that most likely too.

Something to think on there is how this could affect game developers too, I'm all for consumer rights but I do try to think about all angles. We could end up looking at higher prices overall, no release day discounts, more micro transactions, more games updated as a constant service, games that require an online account as a service so you're not paying for an actual product and so on as developers try to keep more income when many smaller developers are already struggling.

Interesting times.

Hat tip to Nibelheim.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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184 comments
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Purple Library Guy 20 September 2019 at 4:17 pm UTC
bird_or_cage
AnanaceSomething to make "new" copies somehow different from "used" ones, to make sure that there's at least some reason for people to want to pay more for a "new" copy rather than a bit-perfect "used" one.

I like this idea. For example, disable achievements, leaderboard and cloud saves, because you did not pay the full price, which includes these "extra services".
Bad specific examples I think. Those are mostly services provided on Steam by Valve, services which they currently provide to people whose games were bought on sale and even to games which are available for free. The loss . . . well, sort of loss . . . is to the game producers. More relevant would be lack of continuing updates, support and such, not to mention no guarantee of new DLCs working (because the new DLCs might only work with current, patched versions of the game).
Shmerl 20 September 2019 at 4:32 pm UTC
ObsidianBlkAgain, I highly doubt any of this will really happen... But, call me old if you'd like, but I do like physically owning my games.

Hard drive is physical, and can hold a ton of your backed up games, without requiring any individual physical media. Buy the game on GOG, back it up, use it and you are set. No need to sell it on physical disks or cards. They don't offer anything useful if you can download it.


Last edited by Shmerl at 20 September 2019 at 4:33 pm UTC
m-svo 20 September 2019 at 4:36 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy
bird_or_cage
AnanaceSomething to make "new" copies somehow different from "used" ones, to make sure that there's at least some reason for people to want to pay more for a "new" copy rather than a bit-perfect "used" one.

I like this idea. For example, disable achievements, leaderboard and cloud saves, because you did not pay the full price, which includes these "extra services".
Bad specific examples I think. Those are mostly services provided on Steam by Valve, services which they currently provide to people whose games were bought on sale and even to games which are available for free. The loss . . . well, sort of loss . . . is to the game producers. More relevant would be lack of continuing updates, support and such, not to mention no guarantee of new DLCs working (because the new DLCs might only work with current, patched versions of the game).

Well, hosting previous versions of game costs money, especially if it is a 60 GB game.
Also non-updated game may cause negative reviews and negativity towards Steam in general, under-featured game is better than deliberately-broken game.

In the end, I hope the law will just force Steam to change EULA, nothing else. I can sell my fridge, but the shop where I bought it does not have to deliver it to new owner
Yes, not a good example since some may say Steam actively prevents reselling by refusing to move the game from one account to another, but they can make it as troublesome as possible to make people just forget about that.
vinniebottled 20 September 2019 at 6:12 pm UTC
So a quick question why would anyone by new?

Game New - £10 (+any updates & support and you can sell it 2nd hand?)
Game Second hand - £5 (+any updates & support and you can sell it 3rd hand?)
Game Third hand - £2 (+any updates & support and you can sell it 4rd hand?) or
Game Third hand - £5 (+any updates & support and you can sell it 4th hand?) ?????
Game Third hand (buy 100% like new - £10 (+any updates & support and you can sell it 4th hand?) ?????

In each one of these cases you get the same exact game the sellers will always get a cut, the indy devs only get 1 cut. The AAA will be selling passes, subscriptions, loot-boxes... so they are still making money through worse practices (in my opinion)


So personally don't want to see micro-transaction/loot-box models or rent pre-hour as a solution to second hand selling. (renting is okay if that's your thing)

As such someone pointed out the liberty of selling a game they own. That's one way to look at it but I like to buy a game and play it when I want and for as long as I want and I just get the feeling this will drive the industry in a direction that I do not like as a way to enjoy my game. So I suppose I will be at liberty to no longer play?

The way I see games is; I read reviews (thanks Liam + GOL), watch videos/streams (thanks Samsai), and estimate how long I will play them for and how much enjoyment I will get out of it. Then I will buy when the price matches what I think it's worth, that may be full price or on sale. Also I think I treat games more like food. I'm happy to pay for some tasty food, or if there is a sale I might buy something more extravagant. Also I don't think there is a second hand market for food I have enjoyed!

Reasons to by new for physical items:
Car - cam belt is about to break resulting in a right-off in two weeks (yes this happened to me)
Books - Coffee stains and other people writing in it
DVDs - scratches cause skips

+ a level of risk as you don't necessary know the quality of second hand so you may have to put in more work or shop around finding mint condition is rare.

On the freedom side for me DRM free is more important than second hand games (if I want to pay less for a game I will wait for a sale)
Wendigo 20 September 2019 at 5:33 pm UTC
I don't think this will change the market. Valve might be forced to allow the transfer of games between accounts but the court cant force them to add a "second hand market" system into steam. So people would still need to rely on ebay or other sites to sell their games. With all the insecurities included like when you sell a used game on DVD.
Salvatos 20 September 2019 at 5:51 pm UTC
KlausWith digital sales there is a additionally the aspects of continuous service. Updates, support, downloads... I could see Valve splitting game prices into a service fee and a game price.
That sounds really clever actually, and I’m surprised no one has commented on this idea. Valve could sell game keys for a pittance, say 5$. When you buy them on the store, a key activation fee that makes up the bulk of current game prices (say 25$) is added to your order and lets you download and use the game right away.

You might then be able to resell your key, but the buyer would still need to order a key activation from Valve for the same 25$ to download it and use Steam features for that game. Presumably Valve would pay a cut of those fees to publishers based on the game being unlocked.

There’s something inherently dirty about making the key worthless this way, but it does emphasize the fact that Valve provide several services and commodities that have to be made profitable somehow. Currently Steam is free and they make their money on game sales without disclosing it explicitly on your bills, but going forward there could be an explicit cost on using Steam and that would hardly be a product that can be resold. The effect of such an approach on refunds would also be interesting to say the least.
F.Ultra 20 September 2019 at 6:56 pm UTC
EhvisI think people are making far more fuss about this than what is really going on. It appears to me that the ruling is about the passages in the licence agreement that forbid users from reselling their games. I suspect that all that is needed for Valve (and other stores) is to remove those passages and inform the users that this is in fact legal. However, nowhere does it really say that Valve needs to implement a system for people to resell individual games to other users. Which means that all that the net effect maybe that you will be allowed to resell your entire account. How many users will that benefit?

Came here to write the very same thing. The people who have actually read the verdict might chime in and tell us if we are wrong but this all sounds just that a digital store is no longer allowed to forbid people from reselling their bought games in their EULA. How such a thing should be made possible in a technical sense is all up to the user to figure out and no one is forcing Valve to open a second hand market in Steam (nor I assume would Valve want to do such a thing since that would open up that market big time by making it easy).
F.Ultra 20 September 2019 at 7:01 pm UTC
orochi_kyo... why suing Valve specifically when every other virtual store including console ones are doing the same ...

They sued Valve since Valve is the biggest player in the market (to make it a high profile case). The ruling will then apply to every one else that sells digital products.
ObsidianBlk 20 September 2019 at 7:56 pm UTC
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Shmerl
ObsidianBlkAgain, I highly doubt any of this will really happen... But, call me old if you'd like, but I do like physically owning my games.

Hard drive is physical, and can hold a ton of your backed up games, without requiring any individual physical media. Buy the game on GOG, back it up, use it and you are set. No need to sell it on physical disks or cards. They don't offer anything useful if you can download it.

I get this... and I'm not saying I don't have digital games myself, but still... I have CDs I bought in the early 90s that I can still read data off of. How many hard drives can you say the same for? Also, depending on the size of your collection (and the size of the games within your collection), that huge hard drive may still only store about a hundred or so (thinking ~50gb sized games these days). My Linux specific game library on Steam is 157 games. Ok... so let's say you store all of that on a SINGLE hard drive. Great. You didn't really, though. If you're worried about integrity of your data, you'll probably want to put them in RAID... so, at minimum you need two hard drives. Might at well offload those files to a third part data storage service... but that brings us back to controlling the purchases you make because you can't guarantee those services will remain, or that, if they do go under, that give you enough warning they're doing so for you to rescue your files. At least if I backed up my physical game to a hard drive and the same event happens, my physical copy is still in my hands.

Honestly... I get why digital distribution is king. I really do. Its instant gratification, automatic patching, and you can reduce the amount of physical space needed to store your games. Yes... but you give up your actual ownership, and there is no way you can be sure your game won't be simply taken from you because of some IP dispute between two companies that could honestly care less that you put your hard earned money into their product. Does this happen often? Right now, not really, but it ~~*does*~~ happen.
Shmerl 20 September 2019 at 8:12 pm UTC
ObsidianBlkI get this... and I'm not saying I don't have digital games myself, but still... I have CDs I bought in the early 90s that I can still read data off of. How many hard drives can you say the same for?

Consider yourself lucky, but don't think it's a reliable method of storage. Optical discs deteriorate with time, and are a lot more error prone than hard drives which in contrast are built to last for many years.

ObsidianBlkAlso, depending on the size of your collection (and the size of the games within your collection), that huge hard drive may still only store about a hundred or so (thinking ~50gb sized games these days).

Not all games are 50 GB. But let's say they are and let's say you have 8 TB hard drive (around $200 these days). That will fit 160 of such games? If you need more, you can get even bigger hard drives (14 TB for example), or get several. Still a lot easier than managing a whole pile of optical disks to hold the same amount of data. If you need backups, get a NAS.

So no, you don't need to give up on actual ownership. You should just use the right tools for it.


Last edited by Shmerl at 20 September 2019 at 8:18 pm UTC
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