With the seemingly imminent death of physical game sales, what with the rise of digital marketplaces and the growing trend of subscription services, selling games second hand is becoming more and more difficult. Far fewer people now own physical copies of the PC games they play, with the vast majority of their collections existing on platforms like Steam, Good Old Games and The Epic Store. Even physical copies of games come with a code so as to lock the game into the user’s account, preventing it from being resold. While it’s seemingly always been this way for digital storefronts, the future of second-hand games seems to be murkier than ever as the Paris Regional Court passed down a ruling that prohibiting the reselling of digital games is illegal.
This comes as a major victory for the UFC-Que Choisir, a consumer rights group based in France, that has taken issue with Valve’s limitations on redistribution in the past and has been actively fighting for their terms of service to receive some form of amendment which could see users being able to resell their games on the digital marketplace. Despite the decision being made by the Paris Regional Court, it’s expected that these changes to the terms of service will affect every country in the European Union although it remains to be seen how this ruling will apply to countries that fall outside of the jurisdiction.
Following the implementation of this ruling, Valve will be required to implement a feature within Steam that will allow users to sell their previously owned steam keys. How this will be implemented… well, no-one really knows yet. This will be a first for Steam and will set a precedent for all other digital marketplaces who will be required to follow suit. Whether this process can be accomplished through Steam’s already existing marketplace is a possibility, but Valve still needs to take account of those skeevy buggers that could potentially take advantage of the system. It’s likely that the potential to resell used Steam keys could hurt developers in the long run, suggesting that the entire distribution network of video games is about to receive a massive overhaul.
There has been no word yet on when these changes are expected to take effect.
Last Updated: September 20, 2019