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French court rules Steam games must be able to be resold (engadget.com)
352 points by abbe98 on Dec 29, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 241 comments



Valve's defense in this case was puzzling. It appears that they tried to argue that Steam is a subscription service (which are exempt from secondary sales), which was just obviously bullshit. From a bit of reading, it seems like there would have been at least two much stronger defenses available. First, the way the 2012 CJEU decision was actually interpreted in practice by other lower courts incredibly strictly[0], requiring outrageous levels of proof that the secondary seller no longer had access to the sold software.

And then separate from that, the core of the 2012 court decision was the 2009 "legal protection of computer programs" directive. But in 2014 (in the Nintendo vs. PC Box case) the CJEU basically ended up ruling that games did not fall under that directive due to how heavy they are on non-software (audio-visual) content[1].

I'd be really curious why Valve's lawyers ignored these avenues and went for the ridiculous subscription option. (And equally, I'm curious about why France was going after Valve when PSN, Xbox Live, Apple App Store and Nintendo eShop appear to be softer targets).

[0] https://gameslaw.org/the-end-of-the-usedsoft-case-and-its-im...

[1] http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?docid=146...


> I'm curious about why France was going after Valve when PSN, Xbox Live, Apple App Store and Nintendo eShop appear to be softer targets

Because "France" is not going after anyone, nor our watchdog, it's UFC Que Choisir (a pro consumer association, similar to eg EFF in their status/legal form) that sued Valve in court.

UFC is a regular of first trying mediation and getting companies to change nicely, and if nothing occurs then they do court cases like this, and then use the verdict as a basis for more mediation with other actors in the field.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFC-Que_Choisir


Thanks for the correction, but it doesn't actually answer the question. Why did whoever initiated the lawsuit go after Valve, when there would have been stronger cases to be made against closed platforms?

(The cases against closed platforms would be stronger, since on those platforms it's far easier for the secondary seller to prove that they no longer have access to the game.)


I don't know the exact answer to that but if I had to take a guess, it's to avoid the "internal feature" defense. It's easier to make the case that your market for your own product (no other digital market can sell for it, your market doesn't sell for other products) should not abide to the traditionnal rules of normal sales.

Instead make the ruling clear in a case where this specificity doesn't apply, then go deeper in the rabbit hole if needed.

Again I'm only guessing here but it makes sense; similar to how, if you were to go against phone os app stores, you would go after Google first because Apple has the "my market for my product" and "not legaly a monopoly [depending on how you define the market]" card.


How is Valve not a closed platform for the games that it sells?

You can't really export the game outside of Steam, or use it with Steam disabled for any significant amount of time.


Presumably jsnell means PC gamers and game-makers can choose between Steam, Origin, GOG, Epic, Humble, and Microsoft Store.

While on the other hand, an gamer or game-maker on iPhone or Android or Nintendo or Playstation or XBox has no choice in digital distribution channels.

(And of course the latter have other flaws too - like their famously capricious acceptance processes)

One could even go on to argue that PC gaming allows you to launch your own game store that allows resale if you think it's so important. Personally I don't find that a very convincing argument, though.


Surely that's an argument that the PC platform is an open one, not the Steam platform. The Steam platform appears to be an attempt to create a walled garden in exactly the same way that the consoles are.


Gamers can only choose between those when the platforms don't lock themselves down using things such as epic's store exclusive deals. Should go after those deals as being anticompetitive, and then we will have an open market.


You can link games you buy outside of Steam to your steam account. This provides users all the upsides of a steam purchase without all of the steam limitations.

Further, many games purchased on Steam provide keys that work without using the steam account.


Linking games to Steam provides the library aspect and social features I believe, but I wouldn't argue it has all of the upsides of a Steam purchase. For example, I would buy Ubisoft releases way back when on Steam instead of Uplay because I could have it manage installing/uninstalling the games (even if I could've purchased it at a cheaper price via Uplay. Ghost Recon Wildlands comes to mind).

For library management, GOG 2 (Alpha) is the best solution I've personally seen (have the various storefronts installed, import the connector for GOG 2, all the games from that storefront are imported into GOG 2, can install/play/etc. on a whim).


I have had steam download and install games like They are Billions I purchased outside the service, as long as it had the keys. This might not apply in all cases, but I have yet to have an issue.


You can do also bought games for XboxOne and PS4 outside the store and activate them on it. I'm not sure about the Switch.


My interpretation was this:

- because games are software, it is hard to enforce that people “selling” them don’t keep a copy for themselves as well

- apparently, this may have allowed an exemption from the “must allow reselling” rule

- because iOS is a walled garden, it is easier to implement DRM to prevent this

- therefore, the courts would have been more likely to force the App Store to allow resale


Yes, that's exactly what I meant.


> You can't really export the game outside of Steam, or use it with Steam disabled for any significant amount of time.

That isn't true for all games. There is this [0] list, but I have no idea about its quality. Essentially there are games that don't use the steamworks DRM parts, so while you do not get a steam-independent installer, those games still work after uninstalling steam (and you could probably watch the installer to make your own for a completely steam free PC).

[0]: https://steam.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_DRM-free_games


Consoles also control the hw which means it is possible to make the drm stronger.


Steam is a closed platform, but:

It's easier to beat Valve's lawyers than Sony's. Sony has a long history of paying out the nose for lawyers who could convince a judge that a law saying "Kill no one" meant "Genocide is legal for Sony Corporation!" (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Computer_Entertainment_Am...)

Apple and Microsoft are the two most valuable companies on the planet right now, and they, too, can get some great lawyers (though they haven't demonstrated the same courtroom magic that Sony has).

I can't remember who originally was responsible for this quote, but "Nintendo is a pile of cash disguised as a video game company" is something that has been proven anything but incorrect over the past decades. Wouldn't want to pick a fight in any court with them, either. (Relevant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Nintendo)

Valve, though? Valve is worth little in comparison, and hasn't had a great history in court. Easy pickings. Then, after you win against Valve, you go up, using the precedent set to help you with the next target.


>It's easier to beat Valve's lawyers than Sony's. Sony has a long history of paying out the nose for lawyers who could convince a judge that a law saying "Kill no one" meant "Genocide is legal for Sony Corporation!" (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Computer_Entertainment_Am...)

Is this supposed to be hyperbole? The case itself was never tried, so it that doesn't show anything about how effective sony's lawyers are.


That was just one example of a case (I just picked it because it's close enough to Hacker News that most people here probably remember it), and notice that Sony got everything they asked for before the case was settled, including some incredibly unfair things (like the list of people who had legally downloaded the legally-created software of Hotz). The reason it was settled out of court was seemingly just so Hotz could avoid a felony.

There are plenty of other Sony cases that demonstrate the rule.


People go on telling everybody about "legal" cracks because their lives are not affected.

If it meant hackers stole everything you own and worked for in your life so far you would think twice how legal this is.


A jailbreak isn't a crack, and the idea that it's a crack is ludicrous. iOS has had hundreds of jailbreaks. There's no financial incentive: it's just freeing a system.

Further, the idea that software piracy is stealing is also absurd, for an entirely different reason: copying is not stealing. Sony still had the original copies.

Beyond that: I already do release all of my source code under libre licenses. Copying isn't stealing, and I've lived my life as a testament to that.


iOS Jailbreaks are immensely valuable because they let you access the user’s data, hence why they’re literally sold for millions these days.


Hotz initially gave his for free to everyone, and I was referring to the ones that have been released for free, again to everyone. There were like five this year alone!

They aren't valuable by the metric he was measuring.

Obviously everyone knows what Apple and the various zero-day companies pay for them; no one here is stupid or unaware.


Stealing is taking someone else's property without due permission. That applies to intellectual property, it doesn't have to be physical.

Now you can use the stupid libertarian argument that you're just "moving bits around" or "moving numbers around" (and math is not illegal). But do that do much and you'll find that society's answer is to move particles of lead in your general direction, at high velocity.


I'm not a libertarian at all, actually. Intellectual property is a reasonable idea, but it only makes sense when forced upon producers instead of consumers, and a lot of what people deem as intellectual property is in reality something that should have patents on it. Patents expire, copyright doesn't meaningfully.

Stealing is taking someone else's property without permission, as you said. However, copying doesn't take it away from them, and jailbreaking literally doesn't do anything but apply a patch to your existing bits. That's the farthest thing from stealing you could imagine, and your argument falls apart with just the tiniest bit of poking.


>Sony got everything they asked for before the case was settled

Not much happened before the settlement, the parties settled very quickly after Hotz's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction failed. The TRO sucked, but wasn't particularly unreasonable.

>incredibly unfair things (like the list of people who had legally downloaded the legally-created software of Hotz).

Jurisdictional discovery is not incredibly unfair, and was only a natural consequence of Hotz's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

>The reason it was settled out of court was seemingly just so Hotz could avoid a felony.

The fuck? This was a civil case.


The fuck? This was a civil case.

Computer fraud is a felony, and around that time the DoJ was getting very trigger-happy in turning civil cases criminal. Google the CFAA, which they were trying to pin Hotz under.


> DoJ was getting very trigger-happy in turning civil cases criminal

Do you happen to have a single example of this?



I don't think there was ever a civil suit filed against Swartz. As far as I remember and according to the timeline on wikipedia this seems to have been a criminal case from the very beginning.

And in any case I don't think this is a great example of the DOJ being trigger-happy, what Swartz did was obviously criminal and they were still willing to let him off with only a slap on the wrist.


Because (at least in the American court system) the precedent is far more important than the target. Valve has less less of a defense than some of the bigger players that actually do offer more of a subscription (or value-add for hardware purchase) and probably have a smaller legal team to boot, while still not being nobodies.


Does the EU have precedent like the US common law system does?


It depends on which member stay you are talking about - most are civil law jurisdictions and so do not have precedent cases binding as law - especially in France as we are discussing here.


Because french people dont go for "easy targets". This is why we have universal healthcare (and actually in all of europe), and also aviation worldwide.

Sarcam aside ufc que choisir have foughr a lot of high profile guys before.


This is the same company who's argument for defrauding 20,000+ Australians through refused refunds was they didn't check what the law was, they just blanket-refused refunds and shut down people's Steam accounts if they got chargebacks, until the government consumer protection watchdog sued them. They even claimed to not be doing business in Australia, despite accumulating 20,000+ refund requests which implies 6 - 7 digit quantities of undisputed transactions.

This is the origin of their refund policy today, which is no questions asked within usage limits. Australia is only like 5% of Steam users so they unfortunately got away with the vast majority of their fraud, perhaps several hundred thousand other instances.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/23/valve-steam-fined-2-mill...


Australian here. I sought a refund for a broken game. Steam refused. I cited the ACL. Steam closed my ticket. I reported it to that ACCC. Along with many other reports, ACCC sued.

One year and nine months later, Steam implemented the refund policy. I asked again for a refund. Steam declined it because the purchase was made too long ago.


I'm glad you did. I wanted a refund of Jagged Alliance 2 back in the early 2000s and they refused, despite crippling bugs with unlimited money in the base game and saving crashed in the expansion but only on the Steam versions you could buy it bug-free on other marketplaces. They sold it like that for years, I wish I'd thought of going to the ACCC but oh well.

I did go to the ACCC a couple years ago when I wanted a refund on GOG - they're more dishonest than Steam as they market a money back guarantee but the only circumstance they will refund is if you prove to their satisfaction that the game cannot open on your computer. It's a "no refund" policy just like Steam used to have.

https://support.gog.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000487189-GOG-C...


Stop requesting refunds and just take your money back.


How? With a chargeback request that will get your account shut down?


I don't see what this has to do with this thread.

These "This is the same company that..." type of comments are very low value. Companies operate across dozens of jurisdictions and have to comply with hundreds of laws. I goes without saying that eventually they'll bump up against a law and/or group of people that disagree with their decisions. That's a normal part of doing business and doesn't have any relevance to some other controversy.


Within the EU we just had another ruling that ebooks cannot be resold and a second hand market is illegal infringement on copyright.

I don't get why games and books are treated differently here.

Personally I understand the economic and technical problems a resale would present, but nevertheless I think putting restrictions of the abilities to resell is an idiotic policy approach.


Cross country limitations is what pisses me off the most with App Store...

Got a Ryanair flight, but outside EU? Can’t download the app and need to print your boarding pass (or pay half the ticket price to do it in the airport).

Got family abroad? Yeah no family sharing for you (even for storage).

Edit: did I say most? App reviews are downright fraud.


cross country limitations for digital services are shameful the hardest thing you have to deal with when you move to another country.

Even knowing some Googlers working in that area, it took me 6 months in order to migrate my google account to another country.

I don't remember the details that clearly but some features were not working well with a 'foreign' google account.

It has been 2 years and I am still trying to close my original paypal account and get back the money that is on it.

Dealing with Paypal support in particular has proven kafkaesque. The original account wants a recent proof of residence in my origin country, which is of course not possible. After multiple calls with support, the solution they provided was for me to create a new account in my country and ask them to transfer my old account to that one. I did so but the customer service for that other country claims that they can't access my original account and that I need to call their colleagues in my origin country.


Well, this article shows why companies do that, no? If you operate in all countries you have to follow all their laws, which isn't realistic, so you have to pick and choose your markets (or get sued when you inevitably fuck up)


Do they not sell the tickets to people outside EU?


Can't you use the website and take a screenshot or "Print to PDF" to display on screen during the check-in/boarding process?


Not sure it matters in practice but in general a printable boarding pass is not equivalent to one issued for digital use. Specifically, printable boarding passes are PDF-417 symbology where mobile boarding passes mostly Aztec and QR symbologies, and occasionally Datamatrix. I could imagine an airline like Ryanair making a point of only accepting mobile boarding passes on phones, to extract additional revenue. This is covered in the IATA BCBP standard. [1]

[1] https://tinkrmind.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/bcbp-implement...


I always just save the boarding pass PDF to Dropbox on my phone because I don't want to bother downloading the shitty app for every single airline (plus who knows just what personal data they are scraping from my phone). Never had a problem for ~hundreds of flights with ~dozens of European airlines over the last three years. This includes Ryanair and the other hyper-budget airlines that seem to use flights as a loss leader for their lucrative "extra-charges" business.


It's also possible to import the boarding pass into Google Pay. The "correct" way to do it is through the airline's app, but I couldn't for the life of me get the EasyJet app to do it, and I really don't want to keep a number of budget airline shitty apps installed anyway, so I googled a bit and found https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=color.dev.com...., which allowed me to scan the barcode from the PDF boarding pass and import that into Google Pay. Tested it with EasyJet only so far, will try RyanAir later. It's possible to tweak the boarding pass a bit, even change the barcode to QR code, but I haven't tried that and it doesn't seem to be necessary.

I think the whole "you must print the PDF boarding pass" thing is just about saving time. Imagine an older person in a hurry trying to zoom the PDF just right and also max the brightness. My wife (30-ish) struggles to do this without slowing down the queue.


Because, to be clear, what is being sold is a license, which is, in effect, simply permission to install and play the game. It is very much likened to a "subscription" because customers don't actually "own" any part of the game at all. They simply own "permission" to install and play the game. And there are all kinds of restrictions to the license which includes transferring the license, reselling it, etc. which are all covered in the license agreement at the time of purchase or prior to install, which of course, nobody reads. :)


To be clear, what Valve wants and claims to sell is a license as you describe, and maybe that is the story they sell to the game publishers using their platform, and maybe it is all true in the US. What is actually being sold though depends on the jurisdiction, and Valve's bold claims have no teeth. It is common for US companies to learn the hard way that they cannot revoke legal rights in places like Australia and Europe. There is little point reading the license agreement when most of it is balderdash, falsely claiming a more limited agreement than that granted by law.


> And there are all kinds of restrictions to the license which includes transferring the license, reselling it, etc. which are all covered in the license agreement at the time of purchase or prior to install, which of course, nobody reads.

Most of those restrictions don't hold up under nations with significant Consumer Protection laws, like the EU and Australia.

Also, in those same jurisdictions, if a part of a contract is trying to enforce something illegal, like taking away a right, then the entire contract can often be considered void.

So if a Consumer Right is the transfer or reselling of the license, like it is here, then the contract is worth less than toilet paper.


> Also, in those same jurisdictions, if a part of a contract is trying to enforce something illegal, like taking away a right, then the entire contract can often be considered void.

Which would mean that nothing was transferred to the purchaser. What you seem to actually mean from the rest of your comment is that the illegal term can be excised leaving the rest of the contract in places rather than the contract being void (which may also be an option, but not one, in this situation, that would benefit the purchaser against whom the illegal term would apply were it not illegal.)


> What you seem to actually mean from the rest of your comment is that the illegal term can be excised leaving the rest of the contract in places rather than the contract being void

No. The contract is void. Which means the seller has no recourse, and no ability to rescind the product, etc, etc.

Which means that the transfer has happened without any obligations on the purchaser. The seller has transferred it to them, without a valid agreement in place.

If only the term itself was all that was made invalid, then the seller could hold the purchaser to account for other parts of the contract - but the contract itself is considered void.

In practice, this usually means that the purchaser has received the equivalent of an unlimited license grant. They can copy, disassemble, and so on, without limitation.


> The contract is void. Which means the seller has no recourse, and no ability to rescind the product, etc, etc.

That's not what a void contract would mean; a void contract would mean the seller and buyer have no obligations to each other, particularly, if the product required some interaction with the seller's servers to function (as much software does these days), the seller would have no obligation to continue such service to the buyer, as that obligation is rooted in the contract.

While use the language of a void contract, you seem to be suggesting that the contract would be valid in all respects against the seller but the buyer’s obligations would be voided. I'm not going to argue that there aren't legal systems that take that remedy for an unconscionable contract term, but it is not the same as voiding the contract. (It would be indistinguishable from voiding the contract in the exceptional case where the only obligations not already fully executed ran from the buyer to the seller.)

> In practice, this usually means that the purchaser has received the equivalent of an unlimited license grant. They can copy, disassemble, and so on, without limitation.

A substantial grant of rights that would not exist without the contract and which also weren't present in the contract is a radically different remedy than simply voiding the contract.


> the seller would have no obligation to continue such service to the buyer, as that obligation is rooted in the contract.

Ah. That's where you're getting stuck. No, that obligation is rooted in the Consumer Protection laws that supersede all contracts, not the contract itself.


> all kinds of restrictions to the license

are toilet paper in EU. Thanks to UsedSoft v Oracle I can go to the recycling center and pick up $5 copy of Windows 10 and Microsoft cant deny activation.


In my European country precent has no power. Does in Europe as a whole?


While in most European countries, precedent doesn't have much power, it can still be used as an indicator on how to interpret law or judge how a court case would go. There is also the higher courts in most countries, which don't set precedent but can set a modus operandi for courts to follow.


I think Valve’s defense is one that’s perfectly strong too, in theory, at least. Steam Cloud saves (syncing game state online), steam workshop (for community game mods, maps etc.), achievements/ leaderboards (arguably, steam makes a social network for games) are all features with running costs, aka a subscription, even if their price to the user is included in the sale price of the game.

From a developer’s perspective, Steam actually handles many more pain points of building games (voip, playing with friends, build processes, DRM, anti-cheat etc.) so arguably, the user is a subscriber of _steam_, since the developer is a subscriber of those services.

I’m curious to know why you find this defense “obviously bullshit”?


Steam is a digital store and a consumer buys software from it. You can twist words and describe it using all sorts of other marketing bullshit but it's mostly in bad faith.

It's why the NZ's consumer guarantee's act has terms like what is "reasonable" and The Disputes Tribunal (somewhat equivalent to small claims court) will often consider things from an average consumer perspective.

HN is full of technical power users so it's common for the comment sections of these stories to devolve into a "well actually" nitpick of language use but most sane countries consumer protection laws are intentionally not designed this way.

Otherwise you can probably extrapolate anything into a "subscription" service. Your bank and most credit cards are structured in a way that looks like a subscription, but an average consumer doesn't consider their plastic cards a financial "subscription".


> Otherwise you can probably extrapolate anything into a "subscription" service. Your bank and most credit cards are structured in a way that looks like a subscription, but an average consumer doesn't consider their plastic cards a financial "subscription".

I do, but I have to pay my bank X EUR a month to use it; therefore a paid subscription service. I don't have to pay Steam X EUR a month to use it. If I don't pay for Steam for a year, my account is still going to work exactly as it did before (sans a few DRM games, maybe, heh). Therefore, Steam is at the very least not a paid subscription service.

Whether it is a subscription service or not, well that is a different matter. I'd say a subscription service is only a subscription service if you regularly pay for the subscription (ie. monthly, quarterly, yearly). If the service stays running and working for you without you paying, then it isn't a subscription service. No, the reason Steam stays working is because of the <= 30% tax on all the sales. Which isn't a subscription service but more akin to a communal tax to keep the infrastructure working.

Apart from that, I never signed up for a Steam subscription. I did sign up for a World of Warcraft subscription. And that means there's no first sale doctrine, sadly, as this goes against the collector mindset the game stands on.


It not being a paid service is not a defense.

Steam is a DRM too, so if they don't want to keep the games in their servers offer a DRM free versions of all the games.


Thanks for bringing up disputes tribunal. Friend of mine recently lost a stupid case (buyer requested a picture to be stretched, even when seller explained it will look bad) and Trademe immediately closed his account with 100% positive feedback...

I’ve lost a case recently by super partial judge and dyslexic seller just blasting nationalistic insults.

NZ is nice but it’s not all daisies and roses.


> NZ is nice but it’s not all daisies and roses.

You'll get no argument from me. Didn't mean to imply our processes are perfect. I do my fair share of complaining about the NZ political and legal landscape elsewhere. :)


I think most people consider a subscription to be something that you pay for on a recurring basis. obviously you can "subscribe" to channels on YouTube without paying anything, but I'd say this is outside the typical usage of the word. if I bought a game in 2005 and it received some patches, I wouldn't have considered myself a "subscriber" to a "service".

no idea how this lines up with the legal definition, though.


>For Valve, it would only apply to tangible games, not to online licenses. According to the UFC, the initial purchaser must be able to resell these games second-hand, even those acquired on the platform.

Sounds like physical games that must be activated on Steam to be able to be played. Once you activate them you can't play on another account even if you have the DVD (but sometimes it's just a code in the case). That's an opposite of most physical console games that can be resold and played on other consoles, under other accounts.

For example I have The Evil Within phsyical collector's edition (awesome game btw) and it comes with a Steam code. I can't play the game under other Steam accounts. And the physical DVDs are worthless, I can't resold them. On the other hand if I would have bought the game on PS4 or XBox One I could just give the disks to someone else and they can play the game no problem.


Given that the EU court has confirmed it was legal to resale your own digital Oracle license AND Oracle had to allow the new buyer the same downloads/update/support as the original one (and given that it's Oracle), I'm not sure the ruling would be different with purely digital games.

https://www.theverge.com/2012/7/3/3134867/eu-court-of-justic...


About 7 years ago I had purchased an annual LinkedIn subscription. About a month into it I decided I didn't like running a recruiting business anymore. I was stuck with the subscription. I found someone who was willing to buy it off me for maybe 20% of what they would have paid. LinkedIn had zero interest in letting and/or helping me transfer to another person. What I ended up doing was adding the buyer to my company account, changing the company name (on LinkedIn), and then had them remove me. It worked great!


Which is why Oracle now provides mostly subscriptions instead of licenses.


Even with console cartridges what you buy is not the hardware but a license to use a copyrighted material.

Copyright laws does not restrict the buyer from reselling, that's called "first sale doctrine" or "exhaustion of rights". You can resell books and movies, you should be able to resell game licenses.


>"what you buy is not the hardware but a license to use a copyrighted material" //

That depends, did the advertised product say "licence $game for £50" or did it say "buy"? If it said buy then I own the copy and can certainly resell it. If it said "license" or "buy a time-limited license" then as long as they made it clear "you can not pass this license to a third party" and required explicit consent to that, they're in the clear IMO.

Beyond that they're pulling a scam and those who hold ultimate responsibility for such scams should go to jail.


Copyright law doesn't exist in France so doesn't matter. France has droit d'auteur, that can be translated litteraly as author's rights. There are quite deep differences.

The concept of exhaustion of rights is probably ludicrous from a French perspective. The most common adjective used with the word rights in French must be "inaliénable", because most rights cannot expire nor be sold nor be taken away.

That's going to be a big culture shock for Valve. You'll forgive me for not going into more details but this would require a fairly long post to illustrate how different the law is.


France does have first sale exhaustion, Germany to for similar reasons; if you author a book and sell it, you cannot tell the buyer what they can and cannot do with that book. The buyer can use it as toilet paper if they want.

That's first sale doctrine, it doesn't touch your author's rights.


What about digital movies? Or eBooks? Can you resell those after you've watched them?

Not arguing for either side here, just saying digital goods can be a bit more complicated than you're making them out to be.

First sale doctrine made sense when part of the cost of an item was the physical product itself, but with digital products, there's a near-zero production/distribution cost, so you're really only paying for the right to consume the media (book, movie, game, music, etc)

So in that case, what exactly are you reselling at that point?


I think there was a recent decision by the ECJ saying that eBooks were not resellable, but I'm not sure about the details


> So in that case, what exactly are you reselling at that point?

Yes. Reselling is actually equivalent to a refund from the authors' perspective. Problem is that people are too often reselling to buy their next thing rather than because they are dissatisfied with the product. On the other hand, refund policies based on arbitrary rules are not satisfying, too.


I’ve been able to buy a book, read it, then sell it to pay for the next one... well, forever. Why is this a problem?


It may not seem like a problem for you, but every time you do that, someone else gets to consume the creator's work without the creator getting paid, which reduces the incentive to create.

In the long run, the problem may be less books to read because less people will write them.

It is of course possible to look at this only from one side, but that approach - from either side - is not sustainable.


But, again, this is how property has worked for a long time. (Since its invention?) It’s been sustainable for thousands of years. Why is it not sustainable now?


There are in fact, more books now than ever before, using this resale model that we've always used. It has been and will be sustainable.


One possible solution would be for the copyright owner to have the right to "tax" such transactions.

For example, every time a game is resold, the developer gets 10% of the resale value.


Interesting question. You actually can't resell digital movies in France because you can't buy a digital movie per se.

The common digital platforms operate on a 24h or 48h rental basis. You actually don't own the movie. You pay to view it once, you could view it multiple times within that timeframe, then it's gone.


Doesn't iTunes with its movie purchasing features exist in France?


> Even with console cartridges what you buy is not the hardware but a license to use a copyrighted material

And I'm pretty sure that's why copying your own games/movies was decided legal here (as long as you don't share them), because the publisher themselves made it so the physical media is not the product.


Yup that's what a DRM system is.


If this ruling holds, my expectation is simply that games will sell at higher prices, or keep their original prices instead of having frequent Steam sales with deep 70-80% discounts. That would keep the after-market price higher as well, and then sellers could have more modest sales that just seek to undercut the secondary market for a few days. I also think people would be more willing to purchase at higher prices if resale were possible: I used to buy a lot more games at full $60 price when it was all physical and I resold most games a month later for 60-70% of the purchase price. I'd experiment a lot more with games I wasn't sure of. Now I only pay that much for games I know I'll like, and otherwise wait for the inevitable deep sales.

I would also not be surprised is Steam sets things up so that they collect a sizable transaction fee like the iOS app store for such transactions, and that publishers demand a cut of those proceeds as well in order to publish on the platform. In fact it would be forward-thinking of Steam to initiate that on their own. Finding a way that everyone gets what they want may be the best way forward here.


I share a lot of your views but don't forget, this is only about the French market; in all likelihood Steam would either comply only locally (though other countries might follow suit, literally, especially in Europe) or pull out entirely from France (unlikely imho, it's still a rich market, but who knows how crazy things can get nowadays).


I'm not sure it would only be France. The law in this case is tightly bound to EU laws on the matter, and so it seems a pretty good chance this would end up forcing Valve to do this for the entire EU. That would complicate things quite a bit beyond the EU too: If consumers have a right to resell, can Valve abridge that right to prohibit resale by an EU citizen to someone in the US? I suspect that question too would need to be tested in courts.


Oh you're probably right about this. It's probably integrated at the EU level now. However, a precedent in 1 one country isn't binding at the EU level, you'd have to attack at the Union level to force a Union-wide judgement (afaik). Meanwhile, individual countries, likes States in the US I suppose, may sue these digital providers.

Your point about cross-country (e.g. France <-> USA) transations is very, very interesting. Afaik, with physical goods, I'm not allowed to take an EU game and sell it second-hand in the US because the product is not allowed in the first place in that market (if you remember, console cartridges weren't even the same format sometimes, and nowadays I don't think consoles discs can be played in any region). So there's that, I can see the gaming industry replying that it's only normal to prohibit products from crossing geographical markets.

Which I always found one of the worst attack on customer experience, but I feel internet in general is about to become more and more restricted in its commercial use, just as much if not more than the physical world ever was.


Valve could avoid most of this trouble if "sharing your library" actually worked on the level of individual games and wasn't functionally identical to just giving someone your password for the entire account.

It is ridiculous that my partner and I can't play different games which I have bought at the same time via Steam.

I'm all for Valve getting a fire lit under their ass for this.


Digital assets can be duplicated for free, but can't be created for free. That holds a conflict, which we've not been good at solving. So far, it's been phrased as: do we forbid digital asset duplication or do we make the creators carry the cost? There's no win-win from this viewpoint. Which is the lesser evil: architectural technology castration or economic punishment of creators?

I'm confident that neither of those is a sustainable solution, and a more fundamental rethink is needed. Currently I'm interested in alternative ways of compensating the creators.


Plot twist: digital assets cannot be duplicated for free. They require storage and transfer.

French plot twist: There are already extensive laws to cover copying and in fact every storage medium is (heavily) taxed to cover losses from copying. You're actually paying few cents per GB on ALL storage mediums like DVD/disks/SSD/usbkeys.


> Plot twist: digital assets cannot be duplicated for free. They require storage and transfer.

Digital assets have zero marginal costs. That is to say, yes, storage and transfer is not free as in beer, but it is very cheap. Which is why we have that tax to cover losses from copying. Not just in France, also in Germany, The Netherlands, and probably many more countries in EU.


I can be wrong but I doubt that Germany has anything similar because one way to avoid the tax in France was to buy from Germany.

The French tax is pretty high. It could be something like 50€ out of a 150€ hard drive.


It's a lot lower in Germany but in principle it does exist.


I'm German and only just heard about this now. I wonder where the money goes, both in theory and practice...


https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauschalabgabe

You're paying 10€ per laptop and 3€ per mobile phone. The money is distributed to several organizations (GEMA, VG Wort, VG Bild-Kunst,..). The right to private copying is derived from that. Apparently they're working on an update though, we should keep an eye on it.


It goes to GEMA. If you're not signed up for GEMA you don't see a cent, otherwise you get a fraction of a fraction of the money.


GEMA


How are the taxes distributed so that the people who are affected by the copying are the ones who receive the benefits? Do they get tax breaks equal to the amount they are "owed"?


Unless I am mistaking, that goes into organisations that manage royalties for movies/music/etc, they take care of redistributing it.

Originally, this was intended in the era of audio tapes and VHS, where people would typically record off the radio or the TV. It was known exactly which titles were played when and how many times. They'd estimate some distributions from there, I guess it's more complicated today.


I think Canada does that too, right? I'd be surprised if Valve saw any of that money though.


The large players in the game industry have been making strategic moves in this regard for a few years now. In all likelihood, AAA titles and similarly high-production cost products will be available via streamed SaaS models.

Stadia isn't a lone abherration; Sony, Microsoft, Activision, Ubisoft et al have all various experiments and/or large strategic positions in this regard.

The fact is, the market is hostile to creators that rely on purchasers to finance them. We're moving rapidly away from that model, and it will be considered as old-fashioned as renting time with a human calculator.

Indie games are their own thing. Only time will tell how they persist, but I suspect it will be via passion rather than any reasonable chance at profit.


Streaming games inevitably burns substantial resources per hour for compute and streaming while not generating revenue commensurate to costs unless you convince people to pay more for less and worse.

It's tempting to compare $60 to say 30 hours of usage and ignore the fact that multiple people per household and in fact multiple households may have shared or bought and sold a disk.

Every user buying a new copy and paying by the month will be more expensive than the cost of a console. Even the machine you access it is liable to be more expensive than a ps4.

This isn't even touching the actual hard problem of latency and increasing hardware burden over time.

Rendering the game at the users premises just makes too much sense to go away.


Many households are already streaming multiple high resolution feeds at once; and availability of the appropriate connectivity will improve with time.

The vast majority of gamers hardly spend more than an hour or two in total on each game they own, on average. The proposition isn't to aim to serve 40 to 100 hours of gameplay per purchaser, it's to provide a couple of hours for most and unlimited for the minority.

Latency isn't that big of a deal. The industry giants involved can afford to be within 30ms round trip of most anyone in EU/NA/Jp, and most people can tolerate a 100ms+ input latency. Their TVs are slow as it is, many consumer models having a 100+ms latency already.

And the big wins? No hackers. No secondary markets. No patching. No consumer hardware/software incompatibility. And so on.


There's nothing particularly novel here, IMO. This is exactly why we have copyright in the first place; creating new content is much harder than reproducing it is. There's no obvious optimum AFAIK, which is why IP law is as problematic as it is.


Yeah I am a bit conflicted about the idea that I can pay money to consume the hard work that someone created, and then turn around and sell that work to someone else (and keep the money) and then another person gets to experience the creator's work but the creator doesn't get paid?

I know this was possible with physical goods, but I feel like there were real-world constraints on how much this secondary market could affect the primary market due to other costs such as storage and shipping of products, and even basic things like wear and tear.

If digital goods can be infinitely resold, we will inevitably have secondary marketplaces that will appear to optimize and streamline the discovery and sale process of these goods (without any of the creator overhead), and I think it will be a bad thing in the long run.


I'm confused by your conflict, you buy a creative work. The artist is paid, you sell that work to someone else, the artist already has their money.

They didn't sell two things they sold one, why would they get x2 money?


Physical goods have a couple accidental inefficiencies which are beneficial to content creators: a) Physical degradation: The book that's been read 500 times will generally be in pretty bad shape. b) Transaction costs coming from locality: I can't transmit a book from SF to NY for free. It costs time /and/ money. So in the absence of an immediately available copy of the book, I'm likely to pay a bit more for access to a new copy.

Without these constraints, the secondhand goods market is potentially much larger, meaning that the creator gets paid less per license. I can read a book, submit it back into the secondhand marketplace, where it immediately gets rebought by someone in NY, and so on, ad infinitum.

So, purchases-per-consumer presumably decreases, and authors still need to eat. (As do publishers, editors, and the whole weirds quasi-vampiric ecosystem surrounding them.) This increases first-sale price... which encourages piracy... etc.

'It'll be ok!' isn't a sufficient response, because look at how journalism has been gutted over the last twenty years. It's a genuinely tougher world for content creators that aren't disney...


That appears to be an argument of scale rather than one of principle. Currently, I can't even sell a digital game once, to my neighbour.

Games — much more than books, maybe even more than movies — have more value closer to their release date, especially since the medium (again, way more than others) is still evolving technically. Many are likely to have a much greater longevity than a book. A typical game is also, let's remember, much more expensive than a typical book. Of course, some games have vast resources behind them, so more compensation is required.

There's a whole host of factors that play off against each other to determine how the business models work, so they end up with many differences. The question that nobody ever really seems to answer is why, from the consumer point of view, should a game (or other digital media purchase) be unlike any other remotely comparable product and be non-transferable.


TL;DR: The keyword reply to your post is the word "library".

> a) Physical degradation: The book that's been read 500 times will generally be in pretty bad shape.

500 times is a lot, but either way, it still works perfectly fine. Which is why libraries tended to work well.

> Transaction costs coming from locality: I can't transmit a book from SF to NY for free. It costs time /and/ money

Not much time if they pick it up or if you combine it with grocery shopping. Money: you can sell it. Then the buyer pays the transport costs. Yes, it does add up, but in my country selling a book on a platform only costs about 5 EUR extra. There is a difference between adding such 5 EUR to the total cost of resell, and making it downright impossible to resell (the current situation).

It used to be a lot cheaper to sell books before globalism. You'd do it on a flea market, or give it away to the library. Then people get to use it as well. That book you own, you can probably sell it to someone in SF instead of NY (which has less carbon footprint as well).

Basically, there is something inherent in humans that yes they like to collect, but they also like to get rid of things and have others reuse it. Which is why books do reach second hand markets. Why can we not do the same for games? Because of artificial barriers, that is why. Artificial barriers like these can be solved by law.


Again, libraries have a finite supply of media: If a book isn't available, many library users trade money for time and buy a new copy. Indeed, new and popular books may have a wait time of months to get a copy.

The library model is very different from the unbounded-online-secondhand-store (UOSS). The library will typically scale the number of copies of a popular book, but with some limit and longterm lookahead. The UOSS will get new used copies of a book until saturated, and then have effectively infinite copies going forward, like a used bookstore that never has to worry about floorspace for inventory.

Now, it actually hurts my soul a bit to argue this side of things. I completely get, sympathize, and 99% of the time am on the side of making content available by any means necessary... It might be a good compromise would be something like limiting resale of a given copy to one per year. The concern is making sure content creators can get paid during periods of 'hotness' while still making things easily available during the cool (or deep-freeze) periods.

In any case, actual modeling is needed... 'It'll be ok, libraries exist' doesn't cut it.


> Again, libraries have a finite supply of media: If a book isn't available, many library users trade money for time and buy a new copy.

Well, as a kid, I had this subscription to a library. I could not afford new books, so I went to the library instead (which I already paid for). If my library didn't have it, I went to a different one. Else, I had to request it for Christmas or my birthday. Popular books were common in the library, and some even multiple copies. As a library, you can register when people request a book a lot, and obtain a copy of it.

> The UOSS will get new used copies of a book until saturated, and then have effectively infinite copies going forward, like a used bookstore that never has to worry about floorspace for inventory.

My experience with this is: scarce books are very expensive, and common books get volume.

If you want to limit resale to only occur once, I feel like that is a good artificial compromise. It could also be a temporary measure to have the industry adapt to it. But I find that a bit of emotional blackmail. Commercial world is tough, adapt to changes... that's the way when you go commercial.


>'It'll be ok!' isn't a sufficient response, because look at how journalism has been gutted over the last twenty years. It's a genuinely tougher world for content creators that aren't disney...

Can we separate fiction from non-fiction? We need non-fiction to function as a society. We like fiction a lot. Laws should protect industries that we need. Laws should not interfere with the unfettered propagation of culture even if it's churned out from a hobby that's been industrialized.


I think in this context, it's about compensation for content creation, so fiction/non-fiction is somewhat irrelevant.

You (the consumer) are paying (or not paying) for content that someone else spent time creating.

> Laws should not interfere with the unfettered propagation of culture

Who bears the costs of this culture creation if there's no reasonable compensation model (which most likely involves a legal framework) to incentivize creators?

Are we willing to reduce cultural creative output to "whoever can afford to do it unpaid" because we don't want to pay for that work?


>Are we willing to reduce cultural creative output to "whoever can afford to do it unpaid" because we don't want to pay for that work?

Yes. You will lose the multiillion dollar productions which many people like. But you will also get rid of the tournament theory[0] meat grinder that is 'the industry'. You will reduce the impact that groomers like Harvey Weinstein can have.

I mean, do you think if the FA had a salary cap of 20k gbp/annum that people would stop playing Sunday league football? Obviously not. People participate because they want to.

I guess a counterargument might be that we need industrialized culture to build and exert soft power around the world. Western music, films, sports, game, etc. But even then the money is so big that now US films can't risk angering China because there's too much money there. So now the tools of soft power have been hijacked against us.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tournament_theory


I guess we disagree then. I think artists should be paid for their work, and while I think the system should be fair, if it's not going to be fair, it should lean towards the creators before the consumers, because they're putting in the work.

What you're objecting to seems to be the middlemen and gatekeepers that existed when the system required more investment on the distribution side rather than the creation side, but with new distribution models that don't require these middlemen, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater and remove fair creator compensation.


I think it looks a little different if you don't think of it from the perspective of how many times it was sold. Think of it from the perspective of how many times it was consumed. The first consumer's enjoys the material and the creators get paid. The second consumer enjoys the material and the creators get nothing. In your example the creators only sold it once, but in mine it was consumers twice-- two sides of the same coin, and either perspective is accurate (though I would also say both are incomplete)

The difference from physical goods is really only one of degree though: Reselling physical goods has a lot more friction, especially when compared to something like the Steam marketplace that has something like a stock market's bid/ask price, which is a much more efficient and friction-less method of price-finding and connecting buyers with sellers.


In your example, the work got experienced twice. So it's really a question of who do we think should get paid when some work is experienced.

For example, a fine meal is experienced by consuming it. It cannot be resold afterwards. The only way for another person to experience it, is for the chefs to make a new copy.

Most of the price of a fine meal is the raw ingredients and labor required to make a copy. But part of it is the IP of the meal, which ingredients to use and how to combine them into a meal.

If you like the meal a lot, you come back and you buy the meal several times. Then you've paid for the IP several times.

Similarly, when you go to a live concert, part of what you pay is for the IP of the songs (albeit fairly indirectly in most cases).

So what is it about the ability to produce a copy at essentially zero cost that changes this? Why shouldn't the artist get paid each time the work is experienced?


In the physical world, sure.. Because there was a cost to producing the physical thing (beyond the creative effort), and it will degrade over time, has costs associated with transfer, etc..

In a digital world, those constraints don't exist, so an artist could in theory get paid once for something they did, but hundreds or even thousands of people could experience their work in a "like new" state.

I'm not saying it should not be this way, but our current pricing model for these goods does not account for this possibility.

So something will have to change for this new approach to be sustainable.

Again, not advocating for either approach in particular, just saying that for an economic model to work, there has to be appropriate incentive and compensation on both the creator and consumer sides.


> There's no obvious optimum

There is. Same as music distribution or the calculator profession. It's unpopular, but inevitable.

We can recognize that sale of copyrighted digital goods (sans any dependent services) is not practically protected by copyright. It's as impractical as trying to track down and sue the person in my family who took the hi-res picture of a mona lisa picture in France. It might take a couple generations, but it will happen.


How is that an optimum? I think most all of us can agree that we want people to continue making games.

You may think it's inevitable, that's fine (though you'll find plenty of people who disagree), but that doesn't make it optimal.


The people who want to "solve" the problem of virtually free distribution of digital goods would have to build all the tools needed to build 1984 and wrest all control and ownership of devices that serve as the gateway to all communication and culture in order to do so effectively.

This cure is so much worse than the disease that it would be infinitely preferable to lose the entire gaming industry which is ultimately a triviality of little societal value.

I think people will adapt and keep making worthwhile works even with just crowd funding and if not oh well.


This sounds very bad for single player story based games. Which are my favorite type of games to play.

Digital games would be very easy to resell and a game can be easily bought once and resold tens/hundreds of times.

Plus any kind of discount would probably mean that you devalued your game forever.


Game resale has been a staple ever since video games exists. Gaming stores chain have built their business' margins around it. And game would easily go through several people's hands, not just one sale.

The only thing that may seem different is the amount of potential customers you can reach at once by your sale, but it's not either: game resale on ebay or amazon allow the same thing, as well as whatever local personal ads site is popular (eg leboncoin in france).

Also, people like to own things, which is why no you didn't go and sell all your books/vhs/dvd/... after watching them when you bought those.

Don't let the "it's digital" be used as an excuse to allow companies to strip you of your rights, and especially don't think it's a good thing.


Friction is an important factor to consider here.

With 0 friction, there's no need to actually "own" a game. You can just purchase it whenever you want to play it.

Currently, the assumption is that anyone wishing to play a game will play the asking price, whether that's $60 or less. If you want to play AAA game du jour, you'll pay full price.

What if you can sell your digital game, with no friction? Well, you pay your $60, play for a couple of hours, and once you stop playing, you tell your steam market bot to sell the game at market price +- your preference. Then, when you want to play again, you tell your bot to buy the game again. Rinse, repeat.

This is not going to fit well within the game pricing model as we know it.


> Gaming stores chain have built their business' margins around it.

But modern game studios have not; quite the opposite. The indie game industry exists almost solely because of digital distribution, and resale would cripple them.


Says who ? Modern indie didn't thrive because there was no resale, they started thriving because the hard barrier to publishing got removed (first with xbox live arcade, then steam and psn, then every store).


This makes current solution (steam/digital markets) to "hard barrier of publishing" a less desireable solution for indies.

But I agree, I think this is a smaller problem for indies. Low cost of those games would make people not to bother much. 40$ aaa games on the other hand would lose a lot of bucks though.


I think I disagree. A used digital game has no depreciation at all. If a middleman can wedge themselves between steam and take a cut, you could easily imagine indie (and any) games lowering their cost substantially

The time investment of selling a digital copy of a game that is identical to all others should be 1 second of thought and clicking if not impeded by steam.


> The indie game industry exists almost solely because of digital distribution, and resale would cripple them.

Only if the game is not worth keeping.


Yeah but selling physical copies is not as convinent as buying it on steam or buying keys in any other web page. I would guess "owning" a digital game does not come with all good feeling that physical copies do. Imo "but digital" argumeny is perfectly valid if it is making things much more conveninet.

Also hard copies gets destroyed over time while a steam key last forever.


> Also hard copies gets destroyed over time while a steam key last forever.

Technically, the steam key evaporates when you die. Accounts aren't supposed to be inheritable.

This will change, but Steam is too new for it to be a live issue now.


Game resale has been entirely killed since the rise of online games, especially multiplayer. Games need a unique key to play, then later a unique account.

Even if the key or account could be sold second hand, there is no trust in it so there is no second hand market. Too much risk to be defrauded, for example the key is cancelled because it was a stolen card, or the first owner claims it back.


> Game resale has been entirely killed

For physical games they absolutely have not. Nowhere near that at all. Even in the US it's a bit more than 25% of Gamestop revenue in the last year.

Look at NPD top 20 biggest games sellers of 2019, for every single one of them with online features you can go to your local store, buy a used copy for your ps4/xbox one/switch that has been used online, and play with it online, and the seller cannot play with it anymore.

The only physicial games for which that has become true is the PC games that register on steam (or other similar platforms such as uplay or origin), which is exactly what this case is about, this is the whole point of this court case.

Physical multiplayer games on console are actually a perfect exemple of 1) that you are wrong and it hasn't been killed, only on pc, and 2) the fact that a solution not only can work but already exists. Transfer of the game to a new Steam account and the new owner can play with it and his key, the old owner cannot.

Also just enter a video game store, at least in europe, and you will easily see that's it hasn't been "entirely killed" since roughly 50% of their store surface is dedicated to used copies resale ...


Exactly. This will create an incentive to turn even more games into "games as a service", so that you don't return it, or free to play, so that there is nothing to return.

Modern games are already optimizing for "long term engagement" at every turn, with a $60 box product like Modern Warfare packed with Battle Pass and seasonal grinds. Gamers want less of this and more God of War, a game where most it's value is consumed in 1 or 2 play-throughs. That'd be incredibly unfair to developers of story driven games if people can burn through the campaign in Uncharted and then resell it for 80+% of the price (since digital used goods have no wear and tear and no risk of defect due to age, I'd presume the resale prices will be near-retail)


fwiw, Valve has already been awful towards the creators of single player story based games with the no-questions-asked refund policy. You can play through a relatively short story based game (or get a few hours into it) and then refund it no questions asked. Thankfully this isn't SUPER common but it eats into some independent devs' income. Resale definitely won't help with that problem, but I don't know how much worse it will get since the people doing refunds now will probably swap to reselling.


That's acceptable because there are a genuine subset of people who buy games on hype with no idea whether they like the game they bought and then never play more than 15 minutes of it. A refund within 2hrs is a fair refund, it soaks up a lot of negativity and gives it back to the customer as a refund.

Someone who bought an 8hr game then thoroughly enjoys 8hr game and resells it to a future customer is a loss for the creator. The creator does not make money from the resale, the customer himself does not get a full refund and Steam loses future indie games on it's platform. It's a loss for everyone and a symptom of the dying games industry. Making big $$ in games was a 2015 thing, it's getting all locked up from here on out.


I recently played an indie game called Gorogoa. Took 90 minutes to complete it and it was a breathtaking work of art, worth every penny.

Then I went to the Steam Communitu hub and the first thing I saw was a thread about someone debating refunding the game. He finished the game (not easy to do, the puzzles require considerable mental effort) and enjoyed it, but felt that Steams "2 hours of playtime" refund policy laid a moral framework by which any game that provides less than 120 minutes of entertainment is a rip-off and should be refunded.

This game was a solo-effort that took 5 years.

Just as big businessed are cut-throat about screwing over consumers in the name of "shareholder rights", people are often equally cut-throat about screwing over who they buy from in the name of "consumer rights". Remember how many people abused Costcos return policy back when it was ridiculously generous?

If my indie favorites like Celeste became refundable or resellable, I wouldn't do it even though I've finished the game and won't play it anymore....this is out of a desire to be a patron to great art. But I think this view is in the minority. Most gamers will maximize their wallets and would return/resell their indie games when finished.


Wow I had never seen Gorogoa, thanks!

There's a discussion about how long a game should be, and something that 1.5 - 2hr is the same length as a movie. Having grown up on 60hr FF7, 2hrs seems to be blending the art form with film. Changing the refund time to 25% of the runtime makes sense for linear stories, but not so much endless mmo's or whatever.


I don't agree with your first point. There are many great single player games that only take 1.5-2 hours to play through and don't really need to be played again as they are mostly linear experiences. Playing through the entire game, getting your enjoyment out of it and then getting a full refund isn't fair at all.


You mean games like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch? This has replay value, and there is no reason why single player story based game developers cannot team up and use a subscription-based model instead.

TL;DR they might have to adapt, but I would not assume it is the end of the world.


I was thinking games like bioshock series, soma, quantum break etc. Not sure if yours is similar. They have some replay value but not much


You really want to get to a world where instead of buying a copy of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, you instead buy 1 month access to play?


Personally, I don't want too many subscriptions because it stresses me out to use the "all you can eat" model within the time frame.

I grew up in a world where games required a serial key, and worked perfectly well offline. I never wanted DRM or online requirement. Consider Diablo 3 vs Diablo 2. The day Diablo 3 was released, I went on vacation. I'd have loved to play Diablo 3 on my laptop while traveling to my destination, but it required an always-on connection. Nowadays, this is less of a problem because roaming in EU is practically free (part of your normal data plan). SaaS? Web 2.0? Didn't exist 20 years ago. The software world changes rapidly. We'll have to deal with these changes.


Note that this is from September. Not sure if anything interesting has happened with the case since then.


This legal ruling also sets a precedent for digital purchases and resale of xbox one and PS4 games in France.


France uses civil law so this ruling doesn't set any kind of precedent.


Also digital purchases for movies in the EU.


Soon: all games are purely SaaS and require subscription to play. Want to play this game on another account? Buy new subscription!


Wait for it…

We're already almost back to the dark-ages of "mainframe computers".

When you had to pay for every time slice to run your program (of course, on "someone else's computer").

The age of "personal computers" is almost over again. (A "personal computer", what a silly idea anyway. Everybody knows that only experts™ can maintain a computer-system properly. That's nothing an "user" could do! IBM told you that already 50 years ago. See, they've been right the whole time… /s).


Would personal computers have been so successful if high bandwidth connections were available at the time?


It's already moving that way. This resale law will gut the low-end of game sales. Regulation like this is just going to reward the big dogs and cut out the little guy.


Wait til HNers/gamers find out they can’t even play games in their Steam library if they’ve been offline for too long.

When it happened to me, I switched to GOG permanently.


What's the time period?


There used to be a bug where you couldn't be offline for more than 2 weeks, but it was fixed in 2013

https://steamcommunity.com/discussions/forum/1/8649699535721...

and

https://steamcommunity.com/discussions/forum/1/8649699535721...


Already the case for many games, especially if you count 'Free To Play, requires subscription to access most content'


If the true nature of those transactions is clear to consumers, then it would be an improvement over the status quo.


Stadia sales pitch


I've always wanted to re-sell my Steam games. I assume Valve has a real business reason why they haven't allowed this, since when sharing your games locally they are better than anyone. Clearly they don't have the big company mindset of forcing people to pay for a license on every device.

If Valve complies with this ruling I'd guess we'll find out what that reason is. I think loot crates and the item market reveals the problem. Steam licenses will turn into some kind of black market money laundering machine that will be impossible to regulate.


My best guess on why Valve doesn't like the idea of a second hand market for content sold on Steam is that it would destroy Valve's internal price structures if such a market would emerge (globally).

The prices on Steam vary quite substantial between regions / countries. Depending to which country an account is linked to the price for the same content may be only a small fraction (down to single-digit percentages) of the price called out elsewhere.

If there would be a free market for "second hand" Steam licenses, and those licenses could be freely transferred form low price regions to high price regions, Valve couldn't uphold its artificial price structure any longer. I guess they don't like this idea.

Even if Valve finds a way to avoid allowing second hand sales between arbitrary counties they might get in some trouble even with this ruling now: I guess they can be forced to allow second hand sales between EU countries with this ruling (because of properties of the trading union). But AFAIK there are also price differences between countries inside the EU. A free second hand market will likely put an end to this.


They could region lock each acquisition. It's not difficult and it probably wouln't cause issue with the law because it's already happening with video DVD.


Region locking inside the EU is not an option.

The union demands goods being freely tradable within its borders. Just lately this was even extended to explicitly include digital goods. [1]

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/new-eu-rules-e...


It is still an option for purchases, the digital content rules have not been formalized yet and currently only aimed and preserving access while traveling within the EU, the current complication is licensing as well as license derived copyright (e.g. translations).

As most content is created outside of the EU and then licensed to various entities within the EU on different agreements there isn’t much that can easily be done.

Sky for example licenses HBO content for the UK you can’t become a Sky subscriber if you do not reside in the UK and pay a TV license. You can access the streaming VOD service as a subscriber from your tablet if you have traveled to Berlin, but you can’t subscribe to it as a German resident.


Because INAL I can't give a definitive answer, but here's how I understand this.

Firstly regarding the example: One can't compare selling (digital) goods and some subscription service. That are two quite different subjects.

Secondly: The EU wants to further extend this "one digital market" thing as soon as possible. The aim is to regulate exactly things like Steam. So the law will be more precise in the future.

I'm quite sure something like region codes would violate the idea of "one digital market". So if nobody manages to get some exceptions in favor of Steam-like businesses into the laws region codes (or similar) won't be a solution (at least in the long term).


>Because INAL I can't give a definitive answer, but here's how I understand this. Firstly regarding the example: One can't compare selling (digital) goods and some subscription service. That are two quite different subjects.

You don't need to be a lawyer there is no difference in their view between sub to view and buy to view, or between movies, tv-shows, ebooks and games it's all "audiovisual content".

>Secondly: The EU wants to further extend this "one digital market" thing as soon as possible. The aim is to regulate exactly things like Steam. So the law will be more precise in the future.

Precision doesn't have anything to do with it, there is the issue of copyright law differences between various member states, EU copyright directives, conflicts with primacy issues, bilateral agreements of the EU and individual member state with other jurisdictions and the entire existing industry.

You also need to understand what unjustified geoblocking actually means, if you run an online store in a memberstate you are not obligated to ship to the entirety of the EU, to provide service or support to other member states or in languages other than your own. You however cannot arbitrarily discriminate by for example refusing as a Polish shop to ship to a shipping address in Poland if someone is paying with an Estonian debit card with an Estonian billing address it does not however mean that you have to ship to estonia, have to have to provide support in estonian or have to warranty the product in Estonia if an Estonian buys it in Poland and goes back home.

People tend to really exaggerate the implications of some of these EU directives if that was the case there would be no fucking business in the EU anymore other than Amazon... read the full instructions don't extrapolate from the widest possible interpretation of a headline.


Doesn't seem too bad. It mostly says that consumers have to be able to buy stuff, from any country in the context of websites having different portals per country.

The biggest issue is around Russia (and few others) where games are a fraction of the euro price. They're not in Europe.

Probably some loopholes around currency and/or language. A game bought in euro must be sold in euro. A game is German or French or Polish only. There are already different editions for wild reasons, for example Germany has a no-gore policy so games have a German edition with bloody content removed.


You can still lock things out depending on licensing, you can’t just do it arbitrarily and unfairly.

If you do not have the right to sell outside of a member state, or the rights to sell within a specific member state or for example have restrictions on your content imposed by member state you can still restrict access.

However most of these restrictions don’t apply to games really since the publishers tend to grant full distribution rights to online platforms.

It’s only really a problem for movies and TV shows.


I'd think movies and TV shows are the least affected. It's licensed by language and even if it wasn't, it's totally worthless to try to navigate an alien website to view a movie in a language you don't understand.


Movies and TV shows are the most affected because they are often secured for a specific distribution scale especially for the initial broadcast and VOD.

It's pretty common these days to have movies release sometimes at the same time as cinemas on certain premium VOD services and nearly always at least a few months before the wide scale home video release these deals not only cost a big premium but also negotiated exclusively for a specific country.

Movies are in english anyhow, even with dubbing the original language is always available subtitles are often available in multiple languages too not everyone in France speaks french, and many European countries are multilingual.

So I don't know what content is licenses by language but it sure as hell not TV and movies, for example HBO is broadcast exclusively in the UK through Sky whilst in France by OCS (Orange) and in Belgium by Proximus (BeTV) so the French dubbed version of Game of Thrones would be available for streaming exclusively during its broadcast period on (at least) two different services which cannot cross borders, Switzerland has probably it's own service I would guess that Luxembourg might be piggybacking on Belgium since BeTV is available there but I can't be arsed to check.

And if you care for the english language then it's available in nearly every EU country for it's initial broadcast run through different distributors which all have an exclusive right for the show in their own country.


In France, movies cannot be released concurrently, see "chronologie des medias" literally timeline per medium. It takes up to 3 years after theatrical release to be allowed to distribute to all other mediums.

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronologie_des_m%C3%A9dias

Movies and tv shows are ALWAYS in the local language. The fraction of population speaking English in germany/france/spain/italy/etc is incredibly small, all content is and need to be localised.

I wouldn't worry that people will start watching (English) shows from service in other countries because it won't happen.


> for example Germany has a no-gore policy so games have a German edition with bloody content removed.

Not for many years.


That's why different European pricing zones were merged into a single EU zone, no? Should no longer be an issue because of that?


I wonder if something could be worked out like a rebate for giving up access to a title (e.g. 10% of current retail price or original sale price, whichever is less), or a discounted license transfer to a friend (perhaps the recipient pays 10% to the publisher to transfer the license).

That way, publishers still make money, friends can cheaply "give" games to their friends, and everyone else can still feel like they're "selling" old games, which would hopefully increase engagement in the platform. I know I have a ton of games I no longer care about, and if I could "sell" them, I would, which cleans up my library and makes me want to spend the balance.

Also, if a game is no longer supported by a publisher, transfers should be free.


I do not see a good reason why one should not be able to sell the game more expensive than the purchase price. Say when the title becomes unavailable from the original source or was obtained as part of a bundle.


This is all speculation, but I would guess that the main issue is legal agreements with the publishers. The publishers don't want any game resales, they want only new sales. Unless France can equally compel the publishers to allow this, it might end up being that Steam is forced to withdraw from France.


Maybe, but I don't see that publishers could push Valve around too much these days.

You're right everyone wants new sales - but they've learned to be okay with offering 90% off at some point, and smaller discounts along the way.


> I would guess that the main issue is legal agreements with the publishers. The publishers don't want any game resales, they want only new sales.

Publishers tolerated reselling for decade when game mediums where physical.

Nowadays they complain about it to increase their margin, purely because they can technically lock the medium.

This is bullshit of the same level than the DRMs and other lock-in nonsense. I am pretty happy some consumer association finally arrived to say them to fuck off.


The first thing that comes to mind is contracts. Imagine you're signing a contract to let Valve sell your games. That's fairly straightforward - you agree on the terms for any given sale, probably Valve take a fixed percentage of the sale cost, and you sign. (Any lawyers among us, I beg your forgiveness!)

Now, imagine the contract gives Valve the right to let third parties resell the games at a price of their choosing. What now? Do you, the publisher, still get a cut? How much? What if it's a used game being resold for the Nth time? There's quite a bit of complexity being introduced here.


In the old physical store days distributors and retailers held the power so they cornered the resale market by letting people trade in old games for money off new games. This let them sell the same product twice (or more!) without paying any money from the resale up the chain to the publisher or further to developers.

Valve already has a store that allows for resale of digital assets with an attached transaction fee. So naively it’d be an extension of that to games.

Whether they think they can cut out the people upstream remains to be seen.


> Valve already has a store that allows for resale of digital assets with an attached transaction fee. So naively it’d be an extension of that to games.

Does first sale doctrine apply here? I think this would violate that.


There already is sort of a black market money laundering machine around steam licenses. It basically goes like: buy steam keys (not buying the game directly on steam, but a redeemable key from some other vendor) using stolen credit cards, resell the keys on a site like G2A, then when the stolen credit cards inevitably get chargebacks you still have the money from selling the key.


This is what cryptocurrencies really opened my eyes to: Everything is fungible if it can be traded online. And if it's fungible, it's going to attract scammers and criminals.


I would love to see video game licenses as ERC-721 tokens that you buy and can use and move between the different digital game platforms out there. If you own the token in your wallet then the DRM or whatever system lets you play the game. If you don't own the token then no game unless you pirate it like today.

This would allow games to be purchased at many different competing stores (like you can with physical boxed games today) and also allow selling games on any market out there (again, like boxed games and ebay). It keeps all of the upsides of boxed games but since it is digital has all of the convenience of digital downloaded games.

This concept extends to all media like music, movies, etc but games seems like a great first use case. I hope someone at Valve pitches this idea.


I think this is bad; not necessarily for the consumer, but for the industry as a whole. Reselling means that copies sold after the release benefit random consumers, not the developer. On the other hand unresellable licenses along with sales mean that everyone pays the same price, but the developer gets all of the revenue. Digital goods cannot be scarce; we shouldn't treat them as if they are.


I think this is good, not just for the consumer, but for the industry as a whole. Reselling means that copies sold at the release have a higher resale value, and therefore a higher price could be charged at release date. If a product has a healthy used market, then I will pay a higher price, knowing that some of it will be recouped later on. This shifts the game's income earlier after release, providing a faster ROI on game development.

This is also besides the fact that the developer has no moral right to prevent the public from reselling a product that has been sold. (First-sale doctrine)


Also that opens a possibility to sell the crap you accidentally bought but refund window closed before you realized that. Many games are promoted as a blockbuster revolution, while being the same old grinders with new textures, or worse. You wait for a plot/ideas that are not there and then oops, you played for three hours, no refund.

In this case, it is a solution stretched to a separate problem, but who cares.


I'm not sure if you're wrong, but it's not at all clear that you're right.

By having a real used market, there are two opposite effects on the new market:

1) Obviously, having more choices (viz purchase of a used copy) tends to pull prices down.

2) But less obviously, the knowledge that one can sell the game when complete means that a buyer would be willing to pay more up front. That is, today they pay $X new, and that represents the total investment. But with resale, they pay $X' up front, but later recover $Y later when they sell it.

The question is what is the equilibrium between these two countervailing forces?


You need to consider the following strategy. Buy game, play for 20h straight. Sell game. Physical media have transaction costs, but for digital copies it will be as easy as pushing a button.

Either doing this is dirt cheap (say less than $1). If it is not dirt cheap, then it means that the game must depreciate hundreds of dollars per year. Which means the starting price must be like $1000.

People wont pay $1000 for a game, so the second case is impossible. Hence, it means that it will be dirt cheap to buy-play-sell. This may be a big threat to the current model.


> You need to consider the following strategy. Buy game, play for 20h straight. [...]

On average, people don't play a game for 20 hours straight. Even I could not do this during a World of Warcraft release, and most people don't. The few who do are outliers.

Most people sleep 8 hours a day, have a household, a job, school, etc. Even a "weekend no-lifer" (which I suppose is more common than a "complete no-lifer") can only play for about 16 hours a day on 2 days a week in the weekend, and that assumes they have no real-life responsibilities. People like that are most likely teenagers (even though these have homework).

> Either doing this is dirt cheap (say less than $1). If it is not dirt cheap, then it means that the game must depreciate hundreds of dollars per year. Which means the starting price must be like $1000.

> People wont pay $1000 for a game, so the second case is impossible.

Sorry, why must the start price be $1000? This makes no sense.

If you want us to consider a strategy, you need to present a plausible one, with plausible data.

Right now, if you want to buy a game cheap, you can already on G2A (circumventing things as region lock). I believe this is going to render the need to wait for discounts (which I currently use) less. If game developers simply quit with all and every discounts (some already do) then the resale value will stick. The amount of people who play a game, might increase as well, and as long as the game retains value over time the first hand and second hand price will stay the same.

Ultimately, the model of selling licenses might have to adapt to the situation, but that is a Good Thing IMO. The way it should work with content, is that people invest money in it, and then these people get an exclusive right to play it first ie. crowdfunding model. Unfortunately, the rights of investors on crowdfunding are currently very low, but that is merely a legal problem. You can certainly keep game licenses sparse right after release, but it increases the urge for piracy because people in non-West can't afford.


It may also push toward more one-time consumable items in the digital medium.


I also agree that #2 is greatly overlooked. I know, personally, I would have purchased many games in the past, if I had an option to resell it for even half the price I paid for it. Instead, I end up waiting 12+ months until that game comes down in price commensurate with the value I believe it to be worth.

This applies a lot to single player games that will take 10-20 hours to complete like the newest Tomb Raider series or Deus Ex series, where I'm sure I will enjoy them, but not enough to spend $70+ on them.


You can apply the same argument to books. Every consumer/user/individual right you have is in some way "bad for the industry as a whole", and if they could take that right away from you, they could squeeze you for more money.


You argument applies to any secondary market. The creator has already made money from the first sale. Why should they continue to get a piece of every subsequent sale?


> On the other hand unresellable licenses along with sales mean that everyone pays the same price

no, unsellable licenses result in price discrimination, because it gives the distributor a monopoly on the sale. That is why steam games have different prices in different regions. Through resales this is eliminated because people can trivially use the arbitrage opportunity to buy low and sell high.

This is a good thing because it maximises consumer surplus. I'm not really sure what a 'random consumer' is either. I don't really see why we should let platform owners or developers exercise market power to the disadvantage of consumers.


> no, unsellable licenses result in price discrimination

> Through resales this is eliminated

> I don't really see why we should let platform owners or developers exercise market power to the disadvantage of consumers.

No price discrimination may result in the single sale price being the first world country price rather than the developing country price (it may make more financial sense to ignore developing countries than to cut the first world price by 3x). So it wouldn't necessarily be to the advantage of consumers.

Secondly this is ignoring what games are a viable financial enterprise to begin with. Without taking that into account, mandating all games be free would be to the advantage of consumers. If a low friction way to buy/sell digital copies single player games existed, I could imagine a single player game changing hands 10 times rapidly after it's released as people finish playing it and sell it to the next person. Unlike physical goods used digital goods would be basically perfect (and would require no time or money to ship).

But rather than consumers paying 10x less overall and developers finding a way to make the same games with 10x less money, I expect a different equilibrium would be reached. Probably developers mostly ignoring pay-once single player games altogether in favor of multiplayer games and/or in app purchases.


>No price discrimination may result in the single sale price being the first world country price rather than the developing country price

no (unless developers would be willing to forego revenue). In a market with perfect competition (and this is close enough to be modelled this way), the equilibrium price is equal to the marginal cost of production. (which is very low for a videogame). Regular old economics does apply here and consumers on the aggregate would win out.

>I expect a different equilibrium would be reached. Probably developers mostly ignoring pay-once single player games altogether in favor of multiplayer games and/or in app purchases.

This may be true but it's not really an argument against competition, after all we allow you to resell your car despite the fact that we could protect car makers by granting them monopolies and they could argue that they could build you fancier and nicer cars with their new surplus profits.

In a market economy, we generally tend to favour the dynamics of competition and consumer welfare over the protection of profits acquired through market power.


> no (unless developers would be willing to forego revenue). In a market with perfect competition (and this is close enough to be modelled this way), the equilibrium price is equal to the marginal cost of production. (which is very low for a videogame). Regular old economics does apply here and consumers on the aggregate would win out.

I don't understand. Clearly video games are not priced at the marginal cost of production, which is just the cost of transferring a few GB. Are you suggesting they are currently or they would be with allowing resales?

I was trying to illustrate it with a specific example, but the point was that price discrimination does not seem to me to be inherently anti-consumer. It would depend if (compared to the scenario where it is not allowed) the price is being raised to get more from customers willing to pay more, or lowered for customers unable to pay as much (who would otherwise be ignored). I'd argue that discounted pricing for developing countries is mostly the latter case.

> In a market economy, we generally tend to favour the dynamics of competition and consumer welfare

I'm arguing that consumer welfare is not obviously served best by torpedoing the market for single player games. The whole point of granting copyright monopolies is to enable content production. IMO allowing companies to charge per person to play a game (an unlimited number of times for the rest of their life) is not an inherently immoral business model and in some ways is more consumer friendly than pay-per play experiences like movie tickets or in app purchase based games.


>Clearly video games are not priced at the marginal cost of production, which is just the cost of transferring a few GB. Are you suggesting they are currently or they would be with allowing resales?

well they'd drop in price heavily. They won't come down to the marginal costs because as you correctly point out AAA titles have high fixed costs in relation to their marginal cost so if the firm wants to continue to exist they can't charge zero obviously. But yeah most competitive digital goods actually do approach their marginal costs of production, which is why so many of them cost something between a few dollars or nothing, see newspapers.

And actually pricing the good at the highest first world rate isn't possible (or at least not rational) because in a market with resales those consumers can then go on and sell their games, taking your revenue (that's why competitive markets push the profit down in the first place).

> is more consumer-friendly than pay-per play experiences like movie tickets or in app purchase based games.

I think that's because (I would guess) you've got a bias towards this business model and dislike other ways to monetize games. But for consumers at large (who don't mind those experiences if their decisions are any indication) this model works very well.

Also keep in mind that the economical point above (that competition drives profits to zero)d does not imply that the company goes bankrupt, it means that the company only gets to keep what it costs to produce the product, it is still a perfectly plausible business.

And culturally speaking, a lot of great games were developed in environments without much copyright protections, reselling rights (literally every game before digital platforms could and was trivially resold). Almost all my favourite single player games precede the online platform era, and anecdotally I'd say there were more of them. We don't really need to give EA or Disney surplus profits by protecting their market power.


I could be wrong, but with easy digital resales allowed it seems like the price would either have to:

- Remain stable, so that someone can buy the game for $40, play it for 30 hours of entertainment and finish the game, then resell it for $40, earning the game developer no money.

- Continuously decline. Of course this means the price rapidly reaches 0, at which point the game developer can't make any money.

These problems would be the same regardless of if the game costs $10 or $60 initially. I think under either of these scenarios most indie and AAA developers would have to switch away from single player pay-once games, since they wouldn't be able to make nearly enough money to pay back the development costs, forget about profits.

So if it pans out that way I don't think that is helping consumers. It would take a product that consumers want to buy and developers want to make (single player pay-once games), make it impractical to produce, and shift the market to products that those consumers like less. I'm not a libertarian but that sort of regulatory outcome seems bad, since as far as I can tell it just hurts developers and consumers while earning the government no money.

I think instead, if we are worried about game companies making too much profits, we should raise the tax on corporate profits for game companies (although this might lead to less investment, since there will be less return). Or if we are worried the companies having too much revenue, regardless of profits, we should have a special sales tax on video games (like on cigarettes), although that will hurt even unprofitable games. Unlike the mandatory resale plan, these sort of taxes can be adjusted to focus more on big companies instead of small ones that are barely surviving, apply equally to all types of games, and even make the government money. So it's win-lose instead of lose-lose.

I don't think mandatory resales would be such a big problem for other types of software like office software that need to be continuously used (although that's moving to subscriptions anyway). The main problem is a lot of video games people just play for 30 hours or so and finish. So if you can buy and sell for the same price people can just do that and pay nothing. I think it's less of a problem in the physical game era since used games aren't identical to new ones (people won't pay as much since the disk could be scratched etc) and it's more trouble to buy and sell them since you have to mail it, pay for postage, wait for it to come in etc.


Games were not scarce before neither, you just had to move your ass to a store to get it, but that was it. Games were available there with no shortage (there might have been in rare occasions, but that's it). The only difference is that distributors killed the second hand market when the switch to digital distribution happen.


What you forget here is that most people buying used games would not buy them new.

Being able to sell a game may expand the market, it is possible that even more people would buy new games if they knew they can resell them later.


Since they are treating virtual products as physical products same thing goes for non-consumable virtual products for apps on apple devices which includes app sale or in-app non-consumable. Maybe apple could provide this in the future to all users with generated codes for each non-consumable transaction for trade purposes.


Why don't they sell games as a subscription without upfront costs? That would solve the problem for everyone.


They do. Xbox Live Game Pass is exactly this (and there's a PC version as well.) See also Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass.


That would just make the problem of not being able to actually own things anymore worse.


French court is one of the dumbest in the world. That's a completely stupid idea : A video game is sold to only one person, if it is resold, it means that the initial selling price must cover the usage for an infinite number of users ? That is nonsense.


Steam should pull out of the French market.


don't you think they would lose a lot of revenue?

I don't think that's a very bright idea


Companies that think they are above the law should be thrown out of all markets. Including the EU one.


That would be the opposite of thinking they are above the law. It would be an acknowledgement that if they sell to that market, they must obey its laws. As doing so would undermine their the viability of their business, they back out.

Thinking they were above the law would be something like, "We removed our servers from your country, we're no longer in your jurisdiction, we don't have to listen to you" Or some other loop-hole attempt.


To pull out of the market goes against the spirit of the law. The French people ordered Valve to stop preventing resale of games, not to stop doing their job.

Besides, giving companies that kind of choice gives them power over the state and its people which shouldn't happen in a democracy.


That is a rather authoritarian view of the law & power of governments that you have there. The idea that a government, and in this case a foreign government, can bind a company to itself and its laws, or that the company should ethically choose to be so bound, even if the company doesn't want to do business there any longer... It is an extreme view of government authority & corporate responsibility to say corporations must do business with markets even when they disagree with its laws and/or it broke their business model. In the later case it amounts to an order to operate in an unsustainable environment.

Your view of the law & obligations of companies would have far reaching consequences. A company would not, for example, be able to opt-out of assisting China with their censorship initiatives, or stop business with them all together if there was no other choice. How do you reconcile your vision of corporate responsibility to continue doing business with that sort of local state law?


> That is a rather authoritarian view of the law & power of governments that you have there.

No, not at all. Since Valve is not a democratic organization its employees aren't free to begin with. Restricting its owners' "freedom" to tell their employees what to do is hardly authoritarian – freedom is about deciding what you do yourself.

> A company would not, for example, be able to opt-out of assisting China with their censorship initiatives, or stop business with them all together if there was no other choice.

The difference is that China is not a democracy.


It is authoritarian for a government to be able to compel a company to do business in its market. In the case of China vs France it's just a matter of degree, not kind. And that degree would be just a little bit closer if your vision of state-based compulsion were enacted by France or the EU.

There is nothing wrong or unethical if Valve makes the determination that it cannot profitably do business with France. It happens all of the time when a business decides it cannot profitably compete in a market where the regulatory or tariff structure doesn't let it be successful. Due to such laws, they back out of the market. I really don't understand how that point can be reasonable debated. What would be wrong would be for Valve to find loop holes that allowed it to continue doing business while circumventing these laws.


> It is authoritarian for a government to be able to compel a company to do business in its market.

I have explained why I disagree in this case.

> In the case of China vs France it's just a matter of degree, not kind.

It's a matter of kind. China is not a democracy, therefore it does not have a legitimate government. For that reason alone, there is nothing immoral about ignoring orders from Beijing.


If another country passed a law that states that if one person purchased a game, they can make unlimited copies for their friends and give them away for free, that would seem to more obviously damage Valve’s business model. For a small country, which doesn’t produce many games, that decision would be great for their economy (less money sent outside their borders for the same content). The major game producing countries would claim that’s IP theft. To some degree, I could see the US and Japan as making the same argument against France in this scenario.


I don't see the issue here. Of course a sovereign has the right to organize its economy in whatever way it wants. That includes deciding whether and to what extent intellectual property exists.


If their business model no longer works in France, why should they continue the market?


I don't think the French authorities think that this law will make selling games a non-viable business else they wouldn't have made this law. And they're in charge, not Valve.


This would also apply to all other digital stores like Origin and what happens with consumables?


I think this should apply to all software one buys that can and does run solely on one's hardware. The idea that only a license to the software can be sold is frankly absurd and in a world of SaaS, unnecessary and destructive. It's amazing what kind of illogical craziness our courts of law can justify in the name of profit.


How do we get this case brought against Valve (and all the others) in the US?


As an european, I really like how the EU is progressively standing up to the US on many aspects.

I know it's very subjective, but beyond the islamic anti-americanism, there are other more moderate, valid views that the US is often abusing its power. It applies to monopolies, uber, airbnb, GAFAs, tax avoidance, and many other things.

California has its own GDPR equivalent.


Half Life : Alyx, coming soon to everyone, except France.


This is great. Anything that may only be "owned" by one person at a time should categorically be able to be resold. Licenses too. If you're a proponent for capitalism (which I guess all publisher decision-makers are), then let the market work. The profit motive will solve all problems.


I think this means that either prices for the first copy sold will go up, or profit from games will go down, since the marginal late purchaser will be getting their copy second hand instead of purchasing it new. As a customer of mostly non-AAA / indie games (I.e. often borderline profitable), both of these outcomes are a negative for me.

If you are a customer of AAA games, and/or if you think there is no more room for prices to go up, this would be a good outcome for you.

I think “[the market] will solve all problems” is a bit too simplistic an analysis.


I love this. We are so desperately in need of digital consumer protection laws, like mandatory labeling for the minimum length of time server-dependent products like home automation or games will be supported by the manufacturer.


Reselling games on Steam seems so silly to me. Many of my games cost less than $1 because I bought them in bulk during the big seasonal sales. What am I going to resell them for 50 cents? Too much effort!

Maybe it makes more sense to resell those $80 AAA games, but I get the feeling those who are thrifty enough to want to resell games all the time are probably fine with waiting until they go on sale anyway.


It's patently absurd to state that anybody who buys a product new would, by virtue of buying it new, be the sort of person who'd never sell that product after they're bored with it.


What you're missing, is that Steam's heavily discounted sales exist because the games cannot be resold. Just compare Steam to the market for new/used console games.

That is to say, the situation you're describing should never exist -- games will be either cheap (current situation) or more expensive with a secondary used market.


> Many of my games cost less than $1 because I bought them in bulk during the big seasonal sales.

I guess these are small games then because the games I see on sale during seasonal sales (and I have a wishlist of 170+) are def. going for more than a few EUR.

My daughter (2) has all kind of physical toys such as wooden toys. If I would not be able to resell these (and I am, as it is durable) she'd have much less of it. Ergo, I believe this is going to lead to increased sales. If I have 100 EUR a month available to spend on fun things such as games, then either I buy 2 games of 50 EUR, or I buy 4 games of 25 EUR. I cannot buy games worth more than 100 EUR. Yes, I can spend the money on something else or save up or wait on a sale, but you can do the same right now. The problem with indie games is that too many people buy the pop shit like the latest Call of Duty (which has been terrible ever since MW2).


>What am I going to resell them for 50 cents? Too much effort!

Don't people already sell steam trading cards for even less than that?


>Reselling games on Steam seems so silly to me. Many of my games cost less than $1 because I bought them in bulk during the big seasonal sales. What am I going to resell them for 50 cents?

I would be happy to gift the games to a relative/friend or even to random people.

Steam family support is pathetic, it made me use GOG or pirate games I already own because I can install/update/play a game in Steam if my son is at the same time playing Garry's Mod


Why do you have to resell it for less than you paid?


Even if you do, it hardly matters. I bought my car new and sold it used for less money. It's very common to buy something new then sell it when you're through with it.


Why would you expect to get what you paid for on resale?

Old things aren't worth as much, generally...


If he got his games in a bundle as he stated, and the bundle do no longer exist,, he could resell these games at a price closer to the standalone price, usually higher


This will guarantee the death of those bundles. It will give a few hundred dollars in profit to whoever bothers to collect on the resale arbitrage and change the sellers landscape for a decade or more.


I used to make money doing this by buying games from the humble bundle, waiting for the price to go up on G2A, then reselling them




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