You can resell your Steam games, says French court

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Valve's ban on reselling games on its storefront is one of the few downsides of having a digital collection of games as opposed to a physical one that can be resold or restocked to your heart's content. And while Steam has a virtual rewards system and a big community in place for stuff like trading cards, crafting badges and leveling up, there's no getting round the fact that once you've bought a game, it's strictly tied to your account and you're stuck with it for eternity (or at least what the EULA dictates).

In what might drastically shift Valve's mode of operating Steam is a ruling given this week by a French high court that legalizes it for European consumers to resell their games bought on Steam, reports French publication Numerama. The verdict follows EU laws on digital goods that ensure "the free movement of goods within the Union," and allow the selling of all goods, including software, to be sold in used condition without the permission of the maker or the original seller.

In its defense, Valve argued that Steam is a subscription service, thus its banning policy on game reselling. The court rejected this defense stating that Steam doesn't sell games as part of a subscription package and that Valve's policy on reselling games goes against EU laws put in place for the free-flow of digital goods and content.

The court's verdict further clarified that the legality of resale applies to selling a single copy of the game, and not duplicates. It also gave Valve three months to update its terms of service in light of this ruling.

A Valve spokesperson told Polygon that the company plans to appeal this decision. "We disagree with the decision of the Paris Court of First Instance and will appeal it," further adding that "The decision will have no effect on Steam while the case is on appeal," hinting at a potential delay for the three-month time period given to Valve for compliance.

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OcelotRex

TS Guru
...to be sold in used condition without the permission of the maker or the original seller.
Software licenses cannot become "used" in the traditional sense. They do not experience wear and tear. The software remains in pristine condition. I don't think that should have been used a justification to allow individuals to resale licenses.
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
I miss reselling old pc games pre steam. 6 months after release if it still sells for $50+ you prob have a winner. Notice a $60 game is selling for $20 a week after release, probably a dud. It wouldn't be hard to click a resell button on steam to get a new game code and having your current game code made invalid. One of the few advantages you have using a console.

Are they going to apply this law to blizzard? Windows? Digital music\movies?
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
My guess is that this will turn into a fee to transfer and maintain - the "right to use" platform is managed by Steam and they do not have to do that for free. $3-$5 per game might be reasonable - and I expect the 'buyer' shall be the payor as he is requesting the service.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
We should be able to resell the license. We are buying the license to play the game, which can be transferred.

...to be sold in used condition without the permission of the maker or the original seller.
Software licenses cannot become "used" in the traditional sense. They do not experience wear and tear. The software remains in pristine condition. I don't think that should have been used a justification to allow individuals to resale licenses.
I would consider used classically as already opened box/disc. Recently I would consider a game used if it was tied/registered to a login. Another example is whatever promotional value came with it, such as another free game or discount on something else, etc etc.

"Steam is a subscription service, thus its banning policy on game reselling. The court rejected this defense stating that Steam doesn't sell games as part of a subscription package and that Valve's policy on reselling games goes against EU laws"

It is NOT a subscription. Liars. Valve is grasping straws. I would NEVER pay a subscription to spend money on software that would disappear if I quit paying. That would be an utter joke. It's bad enough that crap stores like Costco and Sam's Club require a stupid membership for the privilege of shopping at their store.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Honestly, this would probably get me to buy more games from Valve. Knowing I could resell, I would be more inclined to give a game a shot if I was on the fence. Plus, then Valve would get to double-dip; money on the sale, money on the resale (if eBay takes a cut, why not Valve?)
 

elementalSG

TS Addict
I've been going retro recently by installing the physical copies (CD-ROMs! Not even DVDs yet!) of games like Max Payne, Quake 3, Jedi Knight, Descent and even the original Warcraft (on 3.5" floppies) on my retro Pentium 200 Windows 98 build.

As convenient as Steam as, I do miss having something tangible, something I can physically share with friends or buy and sell, if I choose.
 

Markoni35

TS Addict
Hopefully the court will make the same decision about songs and movies. The absolute domination of the ugly music/movie industry is choking the world. Many authors actually get next to nothing, because the middlemen (the music industry) takes everything. And they are more protected by laws than cows in India.
 
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Maxiking

TS Booster
I've been telling this for years on reddit but reddit experts always downvoted me. Hah.

The main advantage of sw, games, well, of digital goods in general is that once you make the product, you can copy it infinitely and you are done with it. Also, you can distribute it nearly for no cost. Unlike with physical goods where you need to account for the costs like labour, material, machines etc if you want to make more pieces of the goods.

Time to face the consequences, suckers. Now, companies will have to actually make games which won't be beaten in 6 hours and then being resold by their owners infinitely if you don't want to bankrupt. Free market is da best. Hopefully common sense will win again if they appeal. You can already imagine the huge corporate lobbying which will try to prevent that from happening.
 
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neeyik

TS Guru
Staff member
I agree with this ruling.... simply put....

01. If I bought it, I own it.
02. If I own it, I can sell it.
03. If steam prevent me selling it, I never owned it, and steam can refund every penny I gave them.
And this is the nub of the issue - if you've bought a game off Steam, you don't own it. You've purchased a lease of the software, in much the same way that one rents a house. The leasing details in the software licence explains what you can and can't do with the software, which you 'agree to' upon use of the software, and unfortunately, one of those details is that you don't 'own' any part of the software. Of course, this only covers the software, and not the licence, so you'd think that you should be able to sell this on, but again no - you don't own the licence, and within the details, it explains that one of the many conditions of using it is that you're unable to sell it on. However, such conditions aren't enforceable in various countries, so what you're ultimately legally allowed to do so isn't globally set. Valve are well aware of this, of course...
 

roberthi

TS Addict
I've been telling this for years on reddit but reddit experts always downvoted me. Hah.

The main advantage of sw, games, well, of digital goods in general is that once you make the product, you can copy it infinitely and you are done with it. Also, you can distribute it nearly for no cost. Unlike with physical goods where you need to account for the costs like labour, material, machines etc if you want to make more pieces of the goods.

Time to face the consequences, suckers. Now, companies will have to actually make games which won't be beaten in 6 hours and then reselled by their owners infinitely if you don't want to bankrupt. Free market is da best.
The same could be said for music, art and movies. You should pay for things appropriately. Having said that, if you own it, you should be able to resell it.
 

roberthi

TS Addict
If I were Valve, which I'm glad I'm not, I would just turn it around and either:

1) ditch the EU market
2) charge a fee for resales via Steam (turning a profit on that product again)

If the EU was so serious about their economy they would do well to develop their own online stores (E.g. GOG.com) that actually compete against Steam. Ah, but there's the catch. No one wants to do the hard work.
 

Maxiking

TS Booster
And this is the nub of the issue - if you've bought a game off Steam, you don't own it. You've purchased a lease of the software, in much the same way that one rents a house. The leasing details in the software licence explains what you can and can't do with the software, which you 'agree to' upon use of the software, and unfortunately, one of those details is that you don't 'own' any part of the software. Of course, this only covers the software, and not the licence, so you'd think that you should be able to sell this on, but again no - you don't own the licence, and within the details, it explains that one of the many conditions of using it is that you're unable to sell it on. However, such conditions aren't enforceable in various countries, so what you're ultimately legally allowed to do so isn't globally set. Valve are well aware of this, of course...
Doesn't really matter how you write down your TOS. If those do not comply with laws, thus being illegal, they are not legally binding.

If you buy a physical copy of the game in store, no one tells you that you don't own it and the rest of the stuff. You paid for the product. Then when you are trying to activate it, you are being coerced that in order to USE SOMETHING YOU HAVE PAID FOR, you must comply with the terms. That is not something I would call mutual consent and acceptance either. Courts should look at this too.
 
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chrismireya

TS Rookie
We should be able to resell the license. We are buying the license to play the game, which can be transferred.

...to be sold in used condition without the permission of the maker or the original seller.
Software licenses cannot become "used" in the traditional sense. They do not experience wear and tear. The software remains in pristine condition. I don't think that should have been used a justification to allow individuals to resale licenses.
I would consider used classically as already opened box/disc. Recently I would consider a game used if it was tied/registered to a login. Another example is whatever promotional value came with it, such as another free game or discount on something else, etc etc.

"Steam is a subscription service, thus its banning policy on game reselling. The court rejected this defense stating that Steam doesn't sell games as part of a subscription package and that Valve's policy on reselling games goes against EU laws"

It is NOT a subscription. Liars. Valve is grasping straws. I would NEVER pay a subscription to spend money on software that would disappear if I quit paying. That would be an utter joke. It's bad enough that crap stores like Costco and Sam's Club require a stupid membership for the privilege of shopping at their store.
I think that you misunderstand the purpose of a club membership and accompanying fee. You're contributing to the overall low costs of Costco's products, services and options. You're likely to save much more over the period of one year than the $60 membership fee anyway.

I bought a high-end laptop from Costco. The price at Costco was already $600 less than buying online from the manufacturer or at retail (which is often difficult to find a laptop with such lofty specs). Then, there was a special promotion that saved me an additional $300. Don't forget that Costco has the best return policy in retail. In addition, they add an extra year of full warranty to your computers, tablets, etc.

So, in one purchase, I saved $900 in up-front cost plus received an additional year of warranty (it increased from two years to three years).

When I add the savings from things like electronics, food, merchandise, travel, tickets, gasoline, etc., I save vastly more than the $60 that it costs to be a member. Plus, that membership fee serves to thwart theft (which, in turn, keeps costs low for member).

I wouldn't compare Costco with a Steam membership. It might be more akin to an Xbox Live Gold membership -- where you can obviously keep all of your games even if your subscription lapses.

I think that the bigger question here is whether Steam is selling games or access to them. If I buy a game from Steam, do I own the game or just access to it while a member? As it is, I feel that I am purchasing the GAME and not just the license to access it. Steam (or a digital game in general) is not a movie theater that sells me a per person access. It is selling a game with full access.

As such, I believe that I have a right to sell that game since I actually own it. Steam will likely start attaching a fee that is included in a game. Otherwise, video game makers might add or attach a particular perk when you buy a game that would make that game "used" if it is ever accessed. That would probably bypass this particular court decision anyway.

Still, I think that Steam could make a fortune as a broker for selling video games between members. They could charge a fee for the transfer of ownership and money (like Amazon or eBay). Moreover, sales would be subject to appropriate income and sales taxes -- which might dissuade many people from selling their games in the first place.
 

neeyik

TS Guru
Staff member
That is not something I would call mutual consent and acceptance.
Indeed not, and it's something the software industry has been avoiding playing ball with for years. Don't get me wrong, I'd definitely like to sell on a large portion of my Steam library, even if it means just getting a token amount for each sale.
 
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Maxiking

TS Booster
The same could be said for music, art and movies. You should pay for things appropriately. Having said that, if you own it, you should be able to resell it.
Yeah, it should be the same for any digital product. It is just the beginning, once we will get there. There have been already similar decisions against other companies like the European Court of Justice vs Oracle. But decisions made by that court are not legally binding, they just interpret legal norms and then send cases back to national courts.
 
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DZillaXx

TS Member
Steam is just the middle man. You need to go after the publishers to allow such transfer of goods. Even before Steam and other services were the standard, CD-Keys would often get locked to an email for online play. Plenty of examples in the mid to late 2000s where selling a physical copy of a game was pointless as the online side of it was tied to someones email.

I would love to have the ability to sell/trade games I own, but this is a industry problem not a steam problem. Valve can't just transfer game rights at will. They are bound to publisher restrictions.
 
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roberthi

TS Addict
Doesn't really matter how you write down your TOS. If those do not comply with laws, thus being illegal, they are not legally binding.

If you buy a physical copy of the game in store, no one tells you that you don't own it and the rest of the stuff. You paid for the product. Then when you are trying to activate it, you are being coerced that in order to USE SOMETHING YOU HAVE PAID FOR, you must comply with the terms. That is not something I would call mutual consent and acceptance either. Courts should look at this too.
Sounds like Valve should simply just wax Steam service in the EU. Problem solved.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
I think that you misunderstand the purpose of a club membership and accompanying fee. You're contributing to the overall low costs of Costco's products, services and options. You're likely to save much more over the period of one year than the $60 membership fee anyway.

I bought a high-end laptop from Costco. The price at Costco was already $600 less than buying online from the manufacturer or at retail (which is often difficult to find a laptop with such lofty specs). Then, there was a special promotion that saved me an additional $300. Don't forget that Costco has the best return policy in retail. In addition, they add an extra year of full warranty to your computers, tablets, etc.

So, in one purchase, I saved $900 in up-front cost plus received an additional year of warranty (it increased from two years to three years).

When I add the savings from things like electronics, food, merchandise, travel, tickets, gasoline, etc., I save vastly more than the $60 that it costs to be a member. Plus, that membership fee serves to thwart theft (which, in turn, keeps costs low for member)
Sounds like you're a costco executive. You do realize that many of their products are well over the cost of normal retail price elsewhere? Good job on your laptop though. The very first thing was how much more expensive their soda is compared to about anywhere else. They do have the best return policy - except for electronics. You used your laptop as an example, and theirs is the same as anywhere else on those. Extremely limited.

They make most of their profit on membership sales, plus products that are marked well above retail. It's basically a wash unless you do intense price comparisons, in which you are buying a year of junk and storing it. It does work for some people, such as you. They also ripped me off on their "executive" membership for several years. I lost several hundred dollars to them from their anti-customer tactics.

For Valve to take a cut of profit on something I own, no. They do not own it. I do. That's like saying Ford will take a cut of me selling my car, or Walmart for me to sell my game to someone else. Shoot, the government does that crap, and over and over on the same vehicle. Scumbags.
 
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jbc029

TS Booster
We should be able to resell the license. We are buying the license to play the game, which can be transferred.

...to be sold in used condition without the permission of the maker or the original seller.
Software licenses cannot become "used" in the traditional sense. They do not experience wear and tear. The software remains in pristine condition. I don't think that should have been used a justification to allow individuals to resale licenses.
I would consider used classically as already opened box/disc. Recently I would consider a game used if it was tied/registered to a login. Another example is whatever promotional value came with it, such as another free game or discount on something else, etc etc.

"Steam is a subscription service, thus its banning policy on game reselling. The court rejected this defense stating that Steam doesn't sell games as part of a subscription package and that Valve's policy on reselling games goes against EU laws"

It is NOT a subscription. Liars. Valve is grasping straws. I would NEVER pay a subscription to spend money on software that would disappear if I quit paying. That would be an utter joke. It's bad enough that crap stores like Costco and Sam's Club require a stupid membership for the privilege of shopping at their store.
Minor quibble. Not all subscriptions have monetary fees. Just because you're allowed to create a Steam account with no up-front monetary transaction doesn't mean you aren't a subscriber. You may not like it. You don't have to. But that doesn't mean you aren't a subscriber. You don't pay a subscription fee, the publishers who use that platform do.
 
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Konungr

TS Rookie
I agree with this ruling.... simply put....

01. If I bought it, I own it.
02. If I own it, I can sell it.
03. If steam prevent me selling it, I never owned it, and steam can refund every penny I gave them.
And this is the nub of the issue - if you've bought a game off Steam, you don't own it. You've purchased a lease of the software, in much the same way that one rents a house. The leasing details in the software licence explains what you can and can't do with the software, which you 'agree to' upon use of the software, and unfortunately, one of those details is that you don't 'own' any part of the software. Of course, this only covers the software, and not the licence, so you'd think that you should be able to sell this on, but again no - you don't own the licence, and within the details, it explains that one of the many conditions of using it is that you're unable to sell it on. However, such conditions aren't enforceable in various countries, so what you're ultimately legally allowed to do so isn't globally set. Valve are well aware of this, of course...

CD-Key can't be reused, meaning you are buying a key. I should be able to resell my key
 

neeyik

TS Guru
Staff member
CD-Key can't be reused, meaning you are buying a key. I should be able to resell my key
Yes, we should. Unfortunately, most software licenses don't 'allow' it by virtue of saying something along the lines of "by using this software, you've agreed to all our terms...one of which means no reselling." In some countries, though, this isn't legally enforceable. If there's no possibility of one being able to keep or carry using all or part of that software, one should really be able to sell it on.
 
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