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Mivo Jul 23, 2013 @ 12:47am
Germany's VZBV vs Valve: Re-selling games in the EU.
Last year, the EU court ruled that publishers and vendors cannot legally prohibit the re-selling of downloaded games and licenses. The ruling explicitly mentioned "licenses", as that had been the "workaround" that Valve/Steam had used to circumvent similar rulings before.

Now the German VZBV (consumer protection central) seems to make its move against Valve/Steam in an effort to force a re-selling option for Steam-bought games:

http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Valve-Steam-Policies-Get-Challenged-Court-Gamers-Could-Resale-Their-Games-Says-VZBV-57648.html

I think this is an important step. Most things you buy you can also sell again, because you do own them. This doesn't have to be bad for Valve, actually, because there would be nothing that prevents them from taking a fee for managing the transactions, so the revenue generated by such fees would possibly off-set the loss from decreasing sales. It would be more problematic for publishers, who were probably already happy that the second-hand market had been crashed (for the PC) by digital distribution.

If Valve loses a possible lawsuit, it would only affect the EU, since there are no similar rulings from US courts, as far as I'm aware.

Last edited by Mivo; Jul 23, 2013 @ 12:50am
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Showing 1-15 of 131 comments
Canti Jul 23, 2013 @ 2:52am 
The issue here is for any games returned to Valve, they in turn will have to claim the money back from the publishers. This is because digital goods cannot be resold as "used" because there was never anything physically owned.

This could be a huge blow to the industry as a whole, especially to the smaller indie's. The impact on PC gaming would be huge and in the long run will do a lot of damage.

Like what, you ask? Prices will rise as publishers try to offset the losses on returned games, the huge discounts we currently enjoy will no longer happen and expect to see every game being multiplayer and progression-based to keep people from returning the game.

You have to think that if the law forces this change, the gaming industry will be forced to respond to the change and it won't be for the better.
Mivo Jul 23, 2013 @ 3:47am 
The used game market that existed in the 30 years before Steam didn't "kill" PC gaming, and it didn't kill console gaming (and there's practically no difference between a new cartridge and a used one).

This will be coming, in one form or another, though I imagine there will also be limitations, e.g. something like games only being able to be re-sold after x weeks, or only back to the vendor, etc. I could also think of incentives to not re-sell a game, e.g. the achievements, discounts based on the number of games owned, and so on.

It could well mean that there will be fewer sales (though I doubt it), but this would be off-set by the ability to re-sell games or buy them at a discount from other players. The same people who buy games at release now will still buy them as soon as they come out instead of waiting for the inevitable sales.
Tito Shivan Jul 23, 2013 @ 4:09am 
Mivo, the used game market that's been around until now lacked the scope and the instantaneousness that it would have on a worldwide service as steam.

Reselling your used Xbox disc to your local gamestop so it can be bought by another local player is far more restrictive than the ability to trade instantly any game license to a world wide audience of over 40 million steam users.

The scope and ease of use if both systems are miles away from each other.

Beware what you wish, because you may get it.
Knifering Jul 23, 2013 @ 4:17am 
They could always do what Greenman Gaming does, a sell back to Steam obviously at a very reduced price.

The owner of the game will get cash funded into the steam wallet and will have to be used on steam obviously. There will be no trading of games to other users of steam again similar to greenman gaming. They have been doing it for a while now so I don't fully understand why all the fuss around here regarding this.

If it was causing so much issues over the world I would expect this to have been reported a long time ago when greenman gaming started doing the trade in's.
Mivo Jul 23, 2013 @ 4:38am 
Originally posted by Tito Shivan:
The scope and ease of use if both systems are miles away from each other.

Lately, I have been buying quite a few used DS carts on ebay. All of them were in mint condition, and looked the same as if I had just removed the shrink wrap. The majority of my "buy now" purchased carts arrived already on the next morning. Granted, this isn't as fast as downloading them on the same day, but it's relatively fast. If you go to a used games store, you have them on the same day. (And once I have played them, I could, if I wanted to, re-sell them again at a minimal financial loss.)

Personally, I'm not too concerned with the exact details of possible solutions, but I do have an increasing "issue" with the fact that there is nothing at all that you can do with games you have purchased, and it strikes me as "wrong". If they allowed gifting of redeemed games, that would also work for me (though people would use that to sell games through third party sites and services). If I could trade in games for a discount, that would also work. But it doesn't feel "right" to me that you cannot, at all, re-sell, trade or otherwise re-use something that you "own" (even if it's something as immaterial as a license). You bought it, you should be able to sell it, just like all (most) other goods you buy.

As I said, there is probably no shortage of ideas for incentives to discourage customers from re-selling or trading "used" digital games. A brutal but workable method would be to sell games with a limited number of sub-licenses, and every time the game changes hand, one sub-license is deducted (which would simulate the wear-and-tear of physical products).
Canti Jul 23, 2013 @ 4:47am 
Originally posted by Mivo:
The used game market that existed in the 30 years before Steam didn't "kill" PC gaming, and it didn't kill console gaming (and there's practically no difference between a new cartridge and a used one).
Old PC gaming and current console gaming use physical discs. It simply isn't the same as digital and should not be considered to be the same thing.
If you return a physical game to the store, the store will sell it as used. If you return a digital copy to a digital store, it cannot be sold as used, so the store will recoup the losses straight from the publishers.
Allowing used digital goods is going to mean less money for publishers, this is fact. This makes the PC a less attractive platform to publish on which is the last thing we need right now. A lot of the runaway successes in the indie world, which is 100% limited to digital distribution, would never have done so if these laws existed.

Originally posted by Mivo:
I could also think of incentives to not re-sell a game, e.g. the achievements, discounts based on the number of games owned, and so on.
The incentive to not re-sell a physical game mostly comes from it being too much work for not much gain. People can't be bothered to make an eBay page and post it, or take it back to the game store for a few pennies. If it's digital, the whole transaction could be done in a click.

Originally posted by Mivo:
The same people who buy games at release now will still buy them as soon as they come out instead of waiting for the inevitable sales.
And these people would also be the ones most likely to sell and/or return the game after playing it while it's still at the top end of it's price point.

Originally posted by |INC| Knifering:
They have been doing it for a while now so I don't fully understand why all the fuss around here regarding this.
It gets complicated when you factor in 3rd-party DRM outside of Steam's control, such as activation limits, GFWL, UPlay etc. It gets more complicated still when you factor in games bought outside of Steam that are activated via Steam. Humble bundles and retail copies that come with Steam keys, how will that work?

These dinosaurs have no idea how digital distribution works and are trying to push the same legislation onto them as physical ones when they are infact entirely different things.

Please don't ruin PC as the gaming platform of choice for the starting companies just to save yourself a couple of bucks in the short term.
sfnhltb Jul 23, 2013 @ 5:12am 
Originally posted by Canti:
Allowing used digital goods is going to mean less money for publishers, this is fact.

Fact? Or opinion? When someone buys a game second hand, that money doesn't just disappear. In fact a very common thing to happen is for the person selling the game to turn around and buy something else with it. If used game sales on Steam only ended in credit in your Steam wallet then in fact it is 100% guaranteed to do so. In that case there is no less money at all going to publishers, the only thing that has happened is a different person owns the older game. People may actually be willing to buy games new at higher prices if they know they can get some of that back by selling the game used. People may feel the ability to sell the game actually makes it more "theirs" and are more willing to pay more for games they feel they properly own rather than are effectively renting.

Unless you know of a properly conducted academic study of this area, maybe you should be a bit less sure about what will happen, huh?
Canti Jul 23, 2013 @ 5:27am 
Originally posted by sfnhltb:
Originally posted by Canti:
Allowing used digital goods is going to mean less money for publishers, this is fact.
Fact? Or opinion? When someone buys a game second hand, that money doesn't just disappear.
The money from used game sales goes straight into the pockets of whoever sold it. So yes, fact.
In retail stores, they buy used games from people and sell them on for profit. They make a lot more money selling used games than new ones. With digital distribution, you cannot sell "used" games, because there is no such thing.

Originally posted by sfnhltb:
Unless you know of a properly conducted academic study of this area, maybe you should be a bit less sure about what will happen, huh?
Why would you need to do a study to conclude that if people are allowed to sell on games they've already played and no longer want, publishers would lose out on sales?
I bought my copy of FF13 used, so Square Enix got none of my money. More profit for my local GAME store, sure, but not for the publisher. That is the whole point of this being an issue, many PC publishers are tiny companies compared to the giants that plague the console realm. They might be able to take a hit from some lost sales, but the newbies can't.
Canti Jul 23, 2013 @ 5:38am 
Originally posted by Archduke:
Personally, I am not overly concerned for the welfare of publishers, aside from the indirect effects of the contracted developers working for that publisher.

What really concerns me are the hardworking devs who really do work extreme hours and under a lot of pressure who will see a reduction in funding, wages and even jobs as a direct result of this sort of proposition.
Keep in mind a lot of publishers and devs are the same company. They self-publish. These are the ones who will go under if such a law is passed.
I refer to publishers more because if the risk of publishing and making a loss increases, it will means they are not willing to take on the more unique titles and just stick to what is safe, like I said earlier, we end up with even more COD clones and single-player games will disappear off the radar altogether.
aiusepsi Jul 23, 2013 @ 5:41am 
Originally posted by sfnhltb:
Originally posted by Canti:
Allowing used digital goods is going to mean less money for publishers, this is fact.

Fact? Or opinion? When someone buys a game second hand, that money doesn't just disappear. In fact a very common thing to happen is for the person selling the game to turn around and buy something else with it.
Yeh, but there's a reasonably good chance that the next thing they buy will be another second-hand game, and they'll spend their money on a second-hand game, and so on.

There are a lot of variables at play so it's hard to say anything for definite, but my feeling is that going from a world where all sales are first-hand to a world where only some sales are first-hand is going to lead to less revenue to the developers.

I think this exact situation is unique, so it's really quite hard to predict what will happen.
Last edited by aiusepsi; Jul 23, 2013 @ 5:42am
Solid Cake Jul 23, 2013 @ 6:19am 
This is terrible news for so many reasons. Beyond a few weeks from release there would be no reason why you would buy a new copy of game. All sales would be second hand.

This would ensure that more developers would turn to multiplayer only games with micro transactions. Single player games wouldnt have a chance.
Mivo Jul 23, 2013 @ 6:27am 
Originally posted by Archduke:
This is the real issue. Too many people still do not understand that they have purchased a license.

Courts ruled years ago already that software licenses are allowed to be re-sold (a German court ruled against Microsoft and declared their "can't resell Windows OEM license without the computer it came with" contract clause to be illegal; MS lost in all instances when they appealed). Oracle also lost a more recent case of a similar nature.

So, the real issue is that you don't feel that licenses are just like any other product you buy, but courts already settled this, so it's not actually a matter of opinion. It is important to understand that only because a vendor (here: Valve) declares something to be a certain way, doesn't make it legally binding. (In Europe, at least. This is often different in the US where you can waive your rights in ways that you cannot in Europe.)
Kithara Jul 23, 2013 @ 8:06am 
Don't forget the many bundles that got so popular: people would try to exploit the system by paying a dollar for the latest humble bundle several times and try to resell it. This would especially be the case if steam would give you steam wallet funds for it.

I'm sure this would be a bad thing for the customers since such bundles and the Steam sales would either disappear or be way more expensive.
Fox Jul 23, 2013 @ 9:30am 
Originally posted by Canti:
The issue here is for any games returned to Valve, they in turn will have to claim the money back from the publishers. This is because digital goods cannot be resold as "used" because there was never anything physically owned.

And how is this any different from physical goods? In Europe we have the rights to return any good within a week. The reseller has to refund the full NEW price of the product plus the packing and shipping cost, even of products that have been opened and used. This means that they cannot resell the product as new. This costs a massive amount of money as they, unlike steam, have to keep stock, employees, packaging and shipping their items.

Valve wants to make you believe they have it bad at returns, but in retail the situation is way worse. Yet, retail still does discounts and is in most cases cheaper than Steam despite their high upkeep costs. This is because Valve is all to used to their extremely high profit returns, why would they ever want to change this?

The only real issue here is second hand games, as licenses do not degrade after time and use. They are exactly the same as the 'new' licenses. Although personally I believe the second hand market won't be as big as the 'dooms day' scenarios that are brought up here, it could be an issue to the massive profit Valve is making. I would say the most fair way to settle is to limit all licenses to 'one time resell'. This decreases the value of second hand licenses as you cannot resell them, but still allows people to resell their first hand goods as is their right.
Canti Jul 23, 2013 @ 9:41am 
Originally posted by Fox:
This is because Valve is all to used to their extremely high profit returns, why would they ever want to change this?
While true, if game returns are allowed, someone is going to have to stump up the cash to return. Will that be Valve or the developers? We don't know, and that's a big issue. If Valve place refund responsibility on the publishers, since there is no physical item to re-sell, this would be a very bad situation to be in.

It's not Valve you should be concerned over, it's small developer studios who are going to see their sales numbers slashed as people buy used from each other and people returning the games after playing them.
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Date Posted: Jul 23, 2013 @ 12:47am
Posts: 131