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Games Your Rights Online

Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership 384

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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  • Trade-offs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bifurcati ( 699683 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:18AM (#42759033) Homepage
    Having strong property rights of "things" has always been a huge part of our culture. However, in the same way that piracy is hacking away at traditional entertainment business models, perhaps there needs to be some give & take here. For the prices Steam offers, I'm actually willing to give up my right to resell the games - as long the games were truly free of all other DRM (I hate it that they're not...).

    The biggest drawback, as I see it, is longer term not being able to pass the games on to family/friends to play. Perhaps an option is to have a higher tiered pricing which gives you the ability to resell the game later?

  • by ghotihed ( 928294 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:27AM (#42759067) Homepage
    I think it's even worse when they're disallowing physical media. I specifically purchased a game for my son (Portal) so that when he was finished playing it, I could uninstall it from his computer and install it on mine so I could play. But, even though it was purchased at a store (Wal-Mart, Target, something like that), and it came on a physical disc, uninstalling it from his computer is not enough. It's already been registered and locked to his Steam account, and after several communications with Valve, they refuse to disassociate it from his account.

    If it was just a download, then I could sort of, kind of see the restriction. But purchasing a physical object, like a book or a DVD or a CD-ROM, should allow one to disassociate the application from one account and sell it on to the next person to associate with their account.
  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:33AM (#42759091)

    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.

    What? The digital copies of games are usually priced lower than their disc-copy retail counterparts.

    Also it's Steam that pushes the idea of these deep discount sales. What do you mean Steam is overpriced? It's cheaper than anything else out there, except limited one-time deals like Humble Indie Bundles restricted to a tiny subset of games, or older games sold by platforms like GOG.

    Once in a while Green Man Gaming or Amazon will manage to beat Steam's price on a game, but Steam? Overpriced?
    Compared to piracy maybe.

    If you're arguing that the price of games in general is too high, then perhaps you have an argument, but what to charge for digital goods is something we as a society are still trying to figure out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:37AM (#42759111)

    Of course I can. I have done that for years with physical games.

    And I can do it with cars, books, DVDs, CD, and basically everything else that is not turning into shit while I use it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @04:44AM (#42759131)

    Communism didn't quite work in the material world, but for digital things it's just what the doctor ordered: everyone gives what they can, everyone gets what they want, since there is no scarcity coming from limited nature of natural resources.

  • by Munchr ( 786041 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:41AM (#42759361)
    Hurrah for posting before reading the whole article and the article's sources. So the ECJ (I guess Europe's equivalent of the US Supreme Court, correct me if wrong) determined that licenses can be transferred, even for downloaded software. The exclusive right to control distribution of a copy is exhausted on it's first sale. So even though this group suing Valve lost in 2010 over a very similar issue, they will likely prevail after this new ruling by the ECJ. Nice going Europe, I only wish we could convince US courts to follow the same reasoning.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:51AM (#42759391)

    As long as physical copies requires a serial and that serial can also be registered for digital downloads (as is the case with many games in steam) one can argument that what is sold in both cases are the license to use the software and the physical copy is just a bonus.
    Therefore you can also rightfully argue that the licenses should follow the same law as completely physical gods which in many countries include the rights to transfer ownership and associated rights.

  • Re:Always Germany (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:38AM (#42759657)
    Yup. We've got very strong customer rights in Germany. They have a very strong lobby. Multiple of them in fact. Its own fairly powerful ministry on a federal level even.
    Everybody still marvels why we haven't yet gone bankrupt. Quality products and quality service might actually be a good idea. Who knows?

    Also note the use of the word "customer". Being called a consumer is a bit ... insulting.
  • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:19AM (#42759795)
    I see this as an opportunity for Valve to get Steam installed on just about every PC. Make it so you can "gift" used copies of the game to other Steam accounts.

    This will ensure just about every gamer has Steam. The ability for a gamer to make an impulse purchase is now there. Increase in sales.

    Let's face it, if someone is looking for a used copy of a game, their urge to play it probably isn't real high.
  • Re:inevitable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Angeret ( 1134311 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:56AM (#42761549)

    Well that's dead easy to answer. You sell a game or games online, you are already connected to the Internet. "To complete the transaction, click this button to uninstall the software from your machine. The license will then be transferred to the buyer who may then install the software". Not hard, is it? Click or not click, sell or not sell.

    As Steam knows every copy of every game and who owns it, I should think that even if you could cheat the system by installing a backup, the next time you were online and Steam is running it could politely tell you if you were being a dick. If you did it legit, you'd have payment (in lucre, Steam store credit or some other goods), the buyer would have the game. Everybody happy, I like that!

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin