Should we be allowed to sell “used” digital games?

Steam Games

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With the news that a German consumer rights group is planning to sue Valve over the fact that it won't allow European gamers to sell on their used games, the debate has resurfaced over whether when you buy a game through a service like Steam, do you really own it?

A ruling was passed in Europe last year that said “an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his 'used' licenses allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet.” Essentially, he was making is to that the exclusive right to distribution was exhausted after the first sale, making it completely legal for a consumer to sell on a second hand digital game.

Despite this ruling, Valve said it had no plans of changing policy and wouldn't make it so users could do so.

Now I'm a big fan of Steam, but I think it's almost missing out on an opportunity here. While Steam is great for buying new games – as you can download them and get playing straight away – as the time goes on after a game is released, it's prices rarely if ever drop. Apart from sales, you can find Steam games years after release still at nearly full price.

This puts off buyers, who are much more likely to pick up a physical copy of a game for $10 or less than they are to buy from Steam.

However, if Valve were to allow for used games sales, perhaps with fixed pricing for a second hand title – how about 50% of current price? - and they take a 10% cut, they would make a killing.

Of course to avoid people completing games and then immediately selling them on, Valve may need to prevent resale of games for a limited time after its initial release, or perhaps delay it to a certain time period after the initial purchase.

These days Valve makes more money from taking a cut from its players selling each other Team Fortress 2 hats and guns than it does anything else, so why wouldn't it get into this incredibly lucrative market? At a time when every major console manufacturers and game developer is working on ways to help destroy the second hand industry, Steam has the potential to become the bastion of it.

Think about it. The next-gen consoles are exciting sure, but the PC has had a big resurgence in popularity lately and with its potential to move into the living room thanks to the upcoming Steam box machines, giving them used game capacity could take it through the roof.

Not only then would Valve be making money from its new releases, but it could start making money from everything it's already sold.

You might think that Valve would look like a ass for charging people to sell their games “second hand,” but in reality it could say it's to offset the extra downloads used or the account migration that would need to take place. Perhaps Valve will need to incorporate new server and security features in order to make it possible. These can be paid for and publicity wise, easily offset.

Of course none of these games are “used” at all, so there's no real reason that their price should be reduced, other than the fact that they aren't brand new anymore. It would simply be a transferring of ownership of the game. Sort of like Valve already has when you can gift games you've bought that you already own.

The only real reason I can guess at why Valve isn't already doing this, is because publishers would kick off. They don't like used games, wherever they are. But this is where Valve needs to continue to show it has balls. Stand up to them and continue being the badass company we all believe it to be.

What do you guys think?

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Comments

I don't care about used games

I don't care about used games market. I do use Steam and luckily I couldn't care less for playing a game right when it's released... so what do I do? Wait for a freaking sell! For example: Max Payne 3 = $15, Borderlands 2 - $22.5 so on and so forth. And what happens if I can't find a good sell on any specific game? SKIDROW sounds any bells? Fuck your "buying a license to play the game". I will then "review the SOFTWARE, since I'm not playing it, I don't see why I should buy it.

You forget one important

You forget one important thing, being digital, why would anyone buy a new game when you can get the 2nd hand one half price, its supply vs demmand. First round sales would just tank, gg the end thanks for coming steam. Think it out, its not gonna happen it cant.

Courts have ruled

the courts have already ruled, when you buy a game, your not buying the game itself, your buying the license to play that game. The used game industry is doomed is console makers go this route

i think they should follow

i think they should follow exactly the same approach used for physical copies, if i buy a dvd with a game on it, im allowed to sell it whenever i want and i make the price because basically, it's my fucking copy of the game. This is what you do with whatever you buy physically, i dont see any reason for valve taking even more money than a transaction fee, nor i see a reason for them to force a minimum price on it. Otherwise they should clearly state that im actually "renting" the game. If a game is shitty and i want to sell it back on day 2, i must be allowed to do it. But they wont do it because they need to keep digital copies of games expensive to get more and more money. Fuck the consumers rights..

Always

This is an interesting issue because Valve has kind of outed themselves. In multiple news quote Valve says they want to usher in an era of marketable user generated content, in essence selling digital content from person to person, just like items in Diablo 3. Realistically if a company wants to support that, they really support used digital content. Used digital games should be the same as anything else, if you want to sell a Steam game, you do it through steam, Valve charges 1.50 for the transaction, you get the difference added to your steam wallet and done. It should be as easy as right clicking the title you want to sell, selecting an option to put the title on the market, setting your price, valve adding their service charge (of less than $2) to your price, them asking you if the final sell price is ok with you, clicking yes and bam, it gets tossed into a used game vault of sort that players can search engine through to find a used copy of whatever the player searched for with whatever range of prices listed by other selling players. DLC shouldn't be included in this, DLC should either be non-transferrable or should have to be sold seperately .

Publishers

In a few years there wont even be need for Publishers, plenty of games have been released and become successful without using a Publisher (Minecraft being the most obvious one, Star Citizen will be the next big one). Iv always thought how Steam are missing out on making HUGE amounts of money by allowing their customers to swap games with friends or sell games and taking a cut from the transaction, charging a set fee to swap games, or a % of the original price when selling games. Dunno how or why it has not already been implemented. But they are awfully stupid for putting it off.

Steam can't simply abide by

Steam can't simply abide by that. They sell too many games that belong to other companies, it's not their decision to make. That said, Steam could set a max and min price for game reselling, take a percentage off of it for itself and a percentage to the devs, then offer the service to the devs/publishers who have games on steam. Its a lucrative market, but if you don't do it very carefully you'll scare game makers away from your platform since they're all afraid of used game sales.

I would rather have the CD in

I would rather have the CD in my hand then rely on a service from companies like Stream and I won’t have to worry about an internet connection if it ever went down or lost all data (Considering Xbox reliability) or dealing with the incompetence and arrogance of these companies. If the rumour is true that the Xbox720 and PS4 will be running this kind of system, I won’t bother buying another console.

Re-selling opinion

I think, that the idea of selling the games to another person should be allowed with the % paid to steam. But I don't know why should the price drop lower for "second-hand digital copy of game", since it can't damaged in any way. :-) If I'd suggest sth to Steam, it'd be allowace to sell the game user owns for full normal sale price, but the user would get like sth up to 20%, because the user who's selling the game to another has found sb else to actually buy it. This fee would be like paying for commercials, but it would be paid to the selling user. Anyone disagrees? :-)

EU law

current EU law was changed to allow the selling of digital download games. this law is enforced in every EU nation the UK inculded. steam, microsoft, sony, EA and ALL digital game publishers have to abide by the EU law or face massive fines ((starting at £1 MILLION per day)) for failing to speedly transfer the game to the seller. steam has an extra option for UK based gamers where they can sell there game or gift it to another person.

I would not buy digital games

I would not buy digital games in the first place. For most of the games that I wanted digital always cost more. If I had digital game and I can sell it back for 99.9% that i got it for and you got to download it from me at the crappy speed. See how it can be on the others side.

Totally agree. i wanna play

Totally agree. i wanna play both BOPS as i loved MW 1,2 & 3, but i refuse to pay £39.99 for each on steam. £39.99 for a game that has since had a sequel? no fkn way! i'll either have to wait for a sale (which is how i got MW 2 & 3) or pick em up cheap in store sale. please let us sell on our games valve. i'm sitting on 183 atm and tbh i dont play most of em and could do with the money! :)

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