Second hand games. They make the world go round, gamers love ‘em for the fact that they can use them as a form of currency and publishers despise them for the fact that they cannot ring out any extra cash from them when they go into that previously owned market. That’s something that you see a lot of in console games, and to a much lesser extent, PC games. Except for digital versions of games that is, because there is zero resale available on that format. None, nada, zilch! And that’s something that ze Germans aren’t too happy about at all.
The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) is of the opinion that consumers should have the right to re-sell their digital games, something that has led to the VZVB launching a fully-armed lawsuit at Valve and their Steam service. According to Carola Elbrecht from the VZVB, when a person buys a game on Steam, they are only allowed to “partially” own that game.
Valve hasn’t been too concerned though, and have pretty much just ignored the VZVB in recent months, according to PC Advisor. However, with a new case from the VZVB getting some support from the European Supreme Court who recently declared that consumers are allowed to sell their second hand digital games, terms of service be damned, the situation could start to heat up. “We are aware of the press release about the lawsuit filed by the VZBV, but we have not yet seen the actual complaint,” said Valve’s Doug Lombardi to Gamasutra.
That said, we understand the complaint is somehow regarding the transferability of Steam accounts, despite the fact that this issue has already been ruled upon favourably to Valve in a prior case between Valve and the VZBV by the German supreme court. For now, we are continuing to extend the Steam services to gamers in Germany and around the world.
As simple as it is, Elbrecht does make a point that is hard to refute. If you pay for the game, should you not be allowed to pawn it off eventually? But at the end of the day, it’s an ideal that will not be enforced in this digital age. We live in an age where bypassing brick and mortar shops results in digital copies of games being just as expensive, and you can bet your bottom dollar that publishers will appeal the hell out of any judgement in order to maintain their grasp on such titles, as games that are distributed on physical mediums have already cost them too much in potential revenue when they hit the second-hand market.
So while it’s a noble and idealistic move on the part of the VZVB, at the end of the day, it’s more futile than pissing against the wind.