EU’s Game Resale Ruling Can Be “Very Disruptive”

Earlier this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a ruling that stated that game publishers cannot stop players from reselling downloaded games. According to EU’s ruling, “an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licenses allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the Internet.”

EU’s Game Resale Ruling

The court reiterated that the exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by the license is “exhausted on its first sale.” This means that gamers in European Union state are free to sell their downloaded games, whether it is from Steam, Origin, or another digital platform. On the other hand, Green Man Gaming boss Paul Sulyok said that it could “shake up the digital distribution market” in the long run.

However, a part of EU’s ruling dictates that anyone who resells licensed games should make his copy “unusable at the time of resale.” Steam and Origin, the two largest digital games platforms in the industry, do not facilitate this as of the moment. But Sulyok believes that all it will take is a single consumer that will enforce his right to resell a game.

Medium term, I think some first acquirer somewhere is going to push this through, because it’s the kind of thing the community does, and it’s their right to. There will be a first case against one of the platform holders.

The result of that is a foregone conclusion. So they will have to facilitate that. This will shake up the digital distribution market. Long-term there are some important implications and this is very disruptive.

Both Origin and Steam would have to facilitate some kind of method whereby a consumer could revoke the activation of that key and then pass a brand new key onto a third party.

What Lies Ahead for Digital Distributors?

Furthermore, the ruling suggests that when a user bought a license for a game, he has the rights to download it from the publisher’s website. The new ruling also states that publishers would not be entitled to any money from a resale. Thus, game publishers such as Electronic Arts and Valve will be keen to avoid this situation, and with good reason.

In relation to this, Sulyok can see that a secondary market will emerge, wherein third parties will buy keys from digital distributors and sell to gamers with huge discount.


Source: Steam Logo/ Wikipedia

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