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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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ZeroPointEnergy 20 September 2019 at 6:23 am UTC
SalvatosIf this became law, I can only imagine the entire industry shifting to a Stadia-like approach where the distributors make it very clear that you’re only renting access to a stream that you can influence to some extent (via controller input during gameplay and via payment for specific content [games] being streamed to you), not any sort of tangible product. As others have said, that sounds like the ultimate DRM.
I mean they already try the streaming thing right now to take away control from the consumer even more. They don't need that law to get that motivation. I don't think streaming will work for most games though. I think this is a casual market thing.

This industry uses laws tho restrict stuff and take rights away from the customers for years. It is a bit sad to see so much concern for them when there is finally a push in the other direction that only gives us some basic rights back we had before. This is hopefully only the start.
Cyril 20 September 2019 at 12:19 am UTC
About this topic, I think we can go back at the time were customers started to accept to buy DVD with Steam codes only, where now it became a habit. And now it's "impossible" to buy DVD games on PC without the need of a Steam account (or an internet connection, Games For Windows Live etc.) to even install it. I never accepted that.
People tend to accept more than they refuse...

Also, I understand the gaming situation is not the same as 15/20 years ago, but I don't think it's so different than selling your old DVD/CD/Floppy disk.
This industry evolved badly and now we faces it, it's like an overdose.
x_wing 20 September 2019 at 12:20 am UTC
ShmerlHowever I don't think it fixes their worries about total number of sales going down. Imagine someone playing a game, and then selling it to others, who are buying from such people instead of the store directly. The bottom line would be less sales for the store and developers.

The law just says that you should be able to resell, but it doesn't says where. So, I think that is quite probable that you will only be able to resell in a internal market of the store (and the store can get a fee from that resell).

By the way, I don't think that free games will disappear. If you give a game for free and a lot of people get it, the price will go near zero (supply and demand). The only thing that may changes is that games will be free when they reach their EOL.


Last edited by x_wing at 20 September 2019 at 12:21 am UTC
Shmerl 20 September 2019 at 12:24 am UTC
x_wingThe law just says that you should be able to resell, but it doesn't says where. So, I think that is quite probable that you will only be able to resell in a internal market of the store (and the store can get a fee from that resell)

I don't think that would fit the idea of that law. I.e. it's not mandating a middleman. So it means you can sell it however you want, and the store and developers might get nothing from the secondary sales.


Last edited by Shmerl at 20 September 2019 at 12:24 am UTC
x_wing 20 September 2019 at 12:27 am UTC
Shmerl
x_wingThe law just says that you should be able to resell, but it doesn't says where. So, I think that is quite probable that you will only be able to resell in a internal market of the store (and the store can get a fee from that resell)

I don't think that would fit the idea of that law. I.e. it's not mandating a middleman. So it means you can sell it however you want.

That's debatable. You have access to the game in their platform, so only allowing the reselling in their platform will have a lot of sense. Anyway, they can do this in the beginning a then fight the lawsuit that could come afterwards.
x_wing 20 September 2019 at 12:42 am UTC
Being from Argentina made me think of another big problem for Steam: how to handle regional prices? I know that they already allows some restriction to keys (e.g. only allow the activation on Latam), but with countries as the one I live (with a currency that devaluates more than a 30% from one week to another) Steam will have a hard time trying to control reselling prices if it's not careful.
ObsidianBlk 20 September 2019 at 1:12 am UTC
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Honestly, I like that this is happening. We've become a culture where we're more than happy "buying" games knowing full well they can be stripped from us without warning at any time (this has happened to a few games on the Playstation store... ex. PT). Given the industry is also in some very hot water with lootboxes *cough* I mean "surprise mechanics" *cough*, as well as microtransactions in general, we ~~may~~ see a radical shift for the industry.

I'll admit, a digital distribution store allowing "resale" of their games is tricky. There is *no* inventory at all. There's no supply and demand because the supply is infinite and there's nothing lost buying a "used" copy of a game (like, the disc could be worn, or you may not get the nice box, or you might not get any of the "extras" [often included with games in the 80s and 90s]), so you don't miss out on anything from a used copy.

I don't know... I kinda like the idea of potentially forcing the industry into physical distribution once more, but I'm not so naive to think that would actually happen.
Shmerl 20 September 2019 at 1:17 am UTC
Why would you want to go back to physical distribution? It's surely step backwards.
mylka 20 September 2019 at 2:29 am UTC
ObsidianBlkI don't know... I kinda like the idea of potentially forcing the industry into physical distribution once more, but I'm not so naive to think that would actually happen.

i dont think linux gaming would have come so far with DISCs
which store would sell linux games? it is physical storage the owner has to pay for. of course they would have more windows games

it is a very difficult topic. i understand both sides.
if valve goes down, all you games are gone..... but if you have a DVD, the DVD also is useless afers some years
and maybe you cant even install it anymore, because your newer OS doesnt support it
on steam they can change all files easily

i think as it is, it is good


Last edited by mylka at 20 September 2019 at 2:30 am UTC
14 20 September 2019 at 3:06 am UTC
Here is a true story:
On Amazon, I asked if I could resell a Ubisoft game after I was done with it or if it required tying the game key to some account. An actual Ubisoft rep answered the question on Amazon and said I could resell the game. Guess what. I bought it. The person that buys the used game from me wouldn't have bought it new at full price. They get to play it sooner than waiting for a price drop. The harm for Ubisoft is they don't get a sale when the game's retail price drops enough a year or two later.

So, it goes like this: $60 from me at launch or $20 from me and the other guy ($40 total) two years later.

My PS4 would lose some value if I could start selling my Steam games. But yeah, I can imagine more and more games requiring "3rd-party EULA," which would mean assigning the game license to an account outside of Steam and logging in via a launcher in order to play. That would be really annoying. But I think consumers could fight against that with their dollars and reviews.
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