As explained by Colin Campbell, writing for Polygon, the ‘Tribunal de grande instance de Paris’ (French High Court) ruled this week ‘that consumers that have bought digital games on Steam are legally entitled to resell them’. As expected, Valve will appeal this decision. However, as pointed out in the Polygon article, as it stands, this ruling means that just like physical games – once digital games are purchased – the right to sell said software is now solely at the discretion of the buyer. Hence, there is no need for a consumer selling a secondhand product to notify the original owner (in this case Steam). Also, that ‘original owner’ has no rights to prohibit a later resale. Which is currently what Steam does.
Of course, this ruling is according to European Laws and not applicable everywhere. However, this pro-consumer decision would no doubt be widely popular from the buyer’s perspective almost everywhere. And it if it somehow became a precedent – it sure would make some waves across the industry. As a consumer, I love the idea of the ability to resell my digital games (especially to fund new games as we used to do in the past). Nevertheless, this is not a straightforward matter. Implementing such a law would have wide implications: The arguments and definitions of subscription vs outright purchase would come to the fore once more with subscription services likely to become even more prevalent. The risk of fraudulent duplicated software would no doubt also increase. And it would further strain the ‘unchangeability’ of that magical ‘$60 price tag’ for video games.
All that being said, though, I’m very interested to see how this particular ruling pans out.