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Games Your Rights Online

Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership 384

Posted by samzenpus
from the mine-now-I-sell-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) has sued computer game distributor Valve because it prohibits Steam-gamers from reselling their games. Steam users own the games they purchase and should be able to resell them when they want to, just like owners of traditional card or board games can, said Carola Elbrecht, project manager for consumer rights in the digital world at the VZVB, on Thursday. But while those traditional game owners can resell their games whenever they like, Steam users often cannot, she said."
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Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership

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  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:25AM (#42759057)

    What? Steam games are almost always overpriced. They get affordable when they go -50% or lower. Its always true for any "non-western" country, but from what I can tell on sites like HotUKDeals ans such - it should be also true for others. Steam is not cheap. I still have around 100 games there, but I wait for bargains, never ever buy at full price.

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:26AM (#42759063)

    Back in the days when you bought games individually, you could share them around the household. So if I had bought say, a copy of unreal tournament 3 and call of duty 2, I could play one, and my wife could play the other on her pc (real example! if you prefer, substitute mate or brother for same effect)

    Now, with two online game equivalents on my steam account, we can only play one, as both require being online. Even if it came in a box from retail for cash, you often still end up with a steamworks copy. Just giving my wife access to my steam account so we can juggle offline mode between us violates the ToS which theoretically means they can shut down my account and deny access to all my games, or make most of them non playable online with a VAC ban. Same applies for creating a new steam account for each game; not only would that be a giant pain in the ass, but trying to register the same card for multiple accounts risks the lot getting disabled.

    They already have the ability to transfer licences between accounts with the gifting system, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to transfer my games to my wife so she can play them when I'm done with them, other than greed.

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:31AM (#42759081) Homepage

    In the west, Communism is decried in part because it doesn't respect the concept of personal property. None of 'your' stuff is owned by you. So why, given that, should we accept for even one second a culture where we only rent and license things from corporate owners? We can't even be said to own the license since there are so many ways a 'permanent' license can just evaporate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:33AM (#42759093)

    Just because "everybody does it", doesn't mean it's right. There's a certain price point at which you're effectively paying second-hand prices for a game anyway, so the inability to resell them down the road doesn't bother me - a lot of the GoG back catalog (especially when it's on sale!) fits that bill. But just because it doesn't bother me doesn't mean that I shouldn't have that right. More important, though, is the question of what happens when the company goes under, or decides it doesn't want to support a particular game any more. If I drag out my old Karateka discs, and my old Apple II, I can still play it (barring physical media issues, or the computer having a fault.) If, in thirty years' time, I drag out my Starcraft II DVD (or my Assassin's Creed DVD, or whatever), will I still be able to play it? (assuming I have access to a system that can run the code, of course; I'm not necessarily expecting to be able to do the equivalent of playing Apple II games on a Commodore Amiga.)

    We're entering a world where physical scarcity no longer matters for a great many things (currently, video, music, and electronic games; this may extend into other items as well in the not-too-distant future); navigating all the issues that that creates will be extremely interesting, for Chinese values of the word.

  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pookie13 (832250) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:34AM (#42759103)
    As a Finn I have waited for this to happen somewhere in Europe. I guess the legislators don't play games or at least buy them from Steam. I hope that this changes how digitally distributed games are seen in light of ownership before every purchase is somehow locked to buyers dna. Tinfoil hats ahoy! :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:43AM (#42759125)

    The simple answer is boycott products with DRM. Don't give those companies any money otherwise they will think DRM is acceptable.

  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:47AM (#42759155)
    then you are boycotting pretty much 75-80% of the games released now days. they all have some type of register/online activation system.
  • Re:inevitable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arbiter1 (1204146) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:53AM (#42759179)
    Yea it was, but wonder if reason you can't resell your steam games besides ones like assassin's creed III which has striped down version of uplay which you have to register your key with, is the game companies that choose to have steam as their distro platform. Some of them made that call to say they couldn't transfer games. If its made easy to sell a game to another person, protections that are needed to be in place to stop say someone from getting their account hacked and all their games transferred to another person for say 10 cents.
  • by gl4ss (559668) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:56AM (#42759199) Homepage Journal

    Contrary to popular belief not all things put on licenses are enforceable and not all rights are possible to give up in exchange of a cheaper deal(essentially this is the whole basis of consumer protection laws).

    OTOH.. it's technically possible to sell your steam games. you just have to sell them all at once(sell the account. you can change the realname if you ever put one in..).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:07AM (#42759233)

    Suck it up. Seriously, are people today so pathetic that they can't go without playing some games?

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:12AM (#42759259)

    That's ok, because 75-80% of today's games are crap anyway.

  • by allo (1728082) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:24AM (#42759297)

    a game is nothing you consume. Its like a book. you read/play it once, then you sell it to the next person for a cheaper price.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:19AM (#42759447)

    Not being able to resell a game is nothing compared to the fact that we can lose all our games anytime with Steam. The license agreement say that Steam can change it whenever they want for whatever they want and if we refuse the new license agreement, then the only option is to close the account and lose all the games we "bought". No refund. We own nothing with steam and considering the current license agreement contains clauses which are clearly abusive (they can do whatever they want with whatever information they can gather from their spyware, err... I mean client software), I'd say Steam is one of the most evil company I ever saw.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sheehaje (240093) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:22AM (#42759455)

    Steam has great sales - that's usually when I buy most of my games.

    A few years back I got Batman: Arkham Asylum with Lego Batman bundled in for $20 - a great steal for myself and my son.

    This past holiday sale - I got 12 games, ranging from Trine 2 and Torchlight, to Serious Sam 3 and Arkham City for $65 for everything - that's 12 games for a little over what I just spent on 1 game for the Wii U. And I can access them anywhere... Oh yeah, and a great active gaming community that I have instant visibility to while I'm playing on a proven platform. I don't know how many times I've tried games that come with a "social" component that is more a hindrance rather than something useful. Steam takes care of that problem.

    My biggest complaint about steam isn't the fact that I can't resell games - I like my collection in tact. It's the fact that they make it so hard for two people to play. I have a family of 4 - and it becomes a royal pain if my son wants to play Grid racing and I want to play Torchlight. Valve really needs to take a look at introducing a family account. Especially if they are going to start pushing Steam Boxes. What a nightmare it will be to have compartmentalized games for each user that has to be purchased for each individual that wants to play it. Yes, there is offline mode, and yes there are ways around most games for single player mode - but they are band-aides to a much more annoying issue.

  • by progician (2451300) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:19AM (#42759613) Homepage

    Actually, "Communism did not work" argument is a bit of a stretch since the "Communism" did not attempt to be what it claimed to be. State ownership is still private property as far as the communist argument goes, since communism is not simply against the personal ownership of things, but the use of production facilities for non-collective benefit. The state owned factories can be used for appropriate profits only for a small minority, or can be used to fund activities that directly goes against the interest of all workers: like wars.

    Communism with capital C, was and is a way where capitalism has been always heading: completely socialized production (i.e. manufacturing at large, employing large crowd of workers in a single economical entity... see the development of factories in the very early capitalism) for the benefit of a small class of individuals and building social hierarchy on the basis of the production. The USSR, China weren't so much incompatible with the market-fundamentalist capitalism of the USA after all, rather a forced modernization from virtually feudal state to wage-work and socialized, industrial production of profit.

    Communism with small c, is and was a movement that aimed to destroy the artificially imposed scarcity which capitalism depends on so much. It is quite characteristic that any time technology makes it possible to reduce the resource cost of production, it creates panic, meltdown, and eventually use of force to recover the scarcity (using whatever legal device is available in form of copyrights, patents, non-disclosure enforcement in the area of digital production), or actively promotes new areas of scarcity to recover the losses of profits. The tech industry is the best example how technological development in capitalism is restrained by imposing scarcity, secrecy and lies on the larger population.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Niedi (1335165) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:38AM (#42759661)
    Simple solution: They shouldn't try to fool people into thinking they are actually BUYING the game. Rename it to say "license the game" or "rent for an unlimited time" or whatever. I'm fine with their non-transferable model as long as they do not try to tell me I'm actually buying the game. Because if I buy something I expect to actually own it and be able to give it away anytime I want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:39AM (#42759663)

    Copy protection is DRM. There's phone-home DRM, and there's DRM that doesn't phone home. For example the DRM which you find for audio/video media generally doesn't phone home, for the simple reason that the player often isn't (and for CDs and DVDs often even cannot) be connected to the internet.

  • by Lord_Breetai (66113) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:43AM (#42759681)

    Haven't you heard? The cake is a lie.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:18AM (#42759787) Homepage Journal

    It honestly wouldn't surprise me if one day the bottles of Heinz Ketchup have a tiny-print on them that states that the product is licensed for home use only.
    At present, this is probably not legal, but laws change, and usually to favor big business who can buy lawmakers.

    The first sale doctrine is being eroded, and not all that slow either. It's not that long ago that it was self-evident that the buyer could do whatever he wanted with his purchase, and it required a double signed contract to impose clauses. First, the contract became a one-way contract, not signed by the seller. Then the buyer's signature was no longer needed - breaking a seal or clicking a button was enough. Now, licensing has become the standard for digital goods, even delivered in physical form, and you have to hunt with a microscope to find the legalese that tells you that you're not buying anything, just paying.

    Scary, indeed. Greed breeds greed.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:28AM (#42759825)

    That's Australia. We've established in other articles and discussions that the content cartels gouge the piss out of those down under, and it isn't limited to Steam. It's wrong and should end, but it isn't a fair comparison to make when considering Steam's pricing.

    In the US, prices on Steam are unbeatable. There is nothing quite like getting a classic for $5 that you can't find in stores for less than $19.99 (and that's if you can even find it to begin with). I recently got Borderlands 2 for $29.99 - that is simply not possible right now otherwise.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:29AM (#42759827)
    Nope. Suing them to hell seems better to me as the law don't allow for their practices.
  • by Sique (173459) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:31AM (#42759835) Homepage
    Laws strike down any license or contract. A law will always supersede what's in a contract or license. If the law for instance states that no truck driver is allowed to drive more than 4 hrs without at least 30 min pause, then no work contract can force a truck driver to drive 8 hrs without stopping (even though trucking companies seems to be under the impression that they can do anyway).
  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loosifur (954968) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:32AM (#42759837)

    "It honestly wouldn't surprise me if one day the bottles of Heinz Ketchup have a tiny-print on them that states that the product is licensed for home use only."

    You mean like the "Not For Individual Sale" labels on most bulk-packaged items?

  • by jareth-0205 (525594) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:44AM (#42759881) Homepage

    Suck it up. Seriously, are people today so pathetic that they can't go without playing some games?

    Wait, so as far as you are concern as long as it's not an 'essential' item then it's fine to have to make a choice between complete boycott and giving away long-held consumer rights?
    The whole article is about games. Non-essential things. We shouldn't have to choose, art and entertainment is what makes life worth fucking living, it is not something that should be so easily dismissed as a triviality.

  • by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:00AM (#42759963)

    That's ok, because 75-80% of today's games are crap anyway.

    Too bad they are not the same 75-80%. The games the producers expect to be popular will undoubtedly be the most draconian.

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