German consumer rights group believes resale case against Valve will happen this year

Valve Man

By on July 22, 2013 at 9:49 am

Last year, the European Union courts ruled that digitally downloaded games must be allowed to be sold on by the consumer. This immediately led them into conflict with Valve, with consumer advocacy group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. (VZBV) filing a claim against Valve in the German court system.

VZBV have now spoken up again, claiming that they are hopeful the case will go to trial this year. VZBV representative Eva Hoffschulte claimed that while “a date of the trial is not fixed, we hope it will take place this year. Until then, it is not realistic that Valve will change their policy.”

“But our chance to win the process is very good and that will be really an improvement for consumers: then they can sell their games to others.”

There has been no official word from Valve since the case was first lodged, other than a comment from Doug Lombardi that they had “not yet seen the actual complaint”.

Source: CinemaBlend

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63 comments (Leave your own)

“But our chance to win the process is very good and that will be really an improvement for consumers: then they can sell their games to others.”

I actually don’t like this idea in regards to steam i should be able to “share” letting a friend borrow something out of my library would be nice but reselling a game that i got on a steam sale just seems cheap especially things like indie titles I don’t like the used game set up as it applies to consoles developers get nothing for their work and that has always felt off to me.

Having said that in the case of things like call of duty where the same thing i made each year im cool with people trading their copies in. I just don’t like the thought of people selling their “used” steam games.

 

spooler,

It’s the same with all items that are resold, if I sell my Sony TV they don’t get any more money.

 

silenceoz,
That’s not a great comparison for digital.

What we’re moving towards for games / music / books should be looked at more like “licensing” the product for use. Of course this would be greeted more warmly if digital prices were not being inflated to match physical retail, which is where it all falls apart. I think people would be more accepting if it was $30 to ‘license’ a game and $60 to ‘own’ the game from retail.

Publishers wont go for it though because of the pressure coming from physical retail (think EB games boycotts etc.) to keep prices high to fund their dying business.

 

That would be all well and good if digital was much cheaper than physical product, which it normally isn’t at launch. sales are another thing though.

I just wish I could share games with friends/family accounts – as I could with boxed product. Maybe one day.

 

Considering digital copies do not ‘age’ as such (aka, the quality you bought it at will never deteriorate) how does one price these for resale? How do you stop people from buying games on sale and selling on again later once the game is no longer on sale and cut profit from steam by reselling lower, but for a profit? Is a nightmare just waiting to happen.

I do agree that the idea of ‘lending’ game would be cool, so you could lend a game to a friend for a period, during which you cannot play it. After which, there tends to be a good chance that the other user then buys the game afterwards.

Also, just look how Microsoft and Adobe have moved to the licensing model, by this logic, the license that you buy from them to use their new digital products should also be resale-able. If this succeeds there might finally be the legal overhaul of the digital medium that has been required.

 
 

akira675:
silenceoz,
That’s not a great comparison for digital.

What we’re moving towards for games / music / books should be looked at more like “licensing” the product for use.

I don’t follow your logic.

I assume you would be ok with someone giving a physical vinyl album, or a CD, or DVD to someone. You can go to a shop, for example, and but a DVD as a gift for a friend. Or you can buy it for yourself, and when you’re done with it, give it to a friend.

The only difference with digital downloads is the delivery method.

Philosophically, and legally, there is no difference. In both cases you are technically getting a “licence”, but in real world/common sense terms you are buying “an album” or “a game”.

Just because companies CAN control resale more tightly doesn’t mean they should have the right to do so.

 

damage:
How do you stop people from buying games on sale and selling on again later once the game is no longer on sale and cut profit from steam by reselling lower, but for a profit?

Why do you need to do that? Maybe Steam should quit manipulating their prices.

 

damage:
Considering digital copies do not ‘age’ as such (aka, the quality you bought it at will never deteriorate) how does one price these for resale? How do you stop people from buying games on sale and selling on again later once the game is no longer on sale and cut profit from steam by reselling lower, but for a profit? Is a nightmare just waiting to happen.

Value – you let the market decide, like it always have.

Further resales – why is this a problem? Since when do people who sell products have a right to a further cut every time they are resold?

Plenty of items are sold repeatedly with no further ‘cut’ going to the original seller. That’s just how the world works.

The conception of what a digital product is being pushed by these companies is fundamentally at odds with notions of what it means to “buy” or “own” something which have been with us pretty much since we were cavemen.

And given that the only rights these companies have are imaginary ones that we as a society have elected to give them (Copyright etc do not exist as independent concepts in reality, they are pure statutory construction), they can either deal with it or GTFO.

 

How about we flip this on its head.

If I don’t actually own games I buy, then I guess I am renting them.

Let’s make a law that when I am sick of a game, if I don’t want it any more then I can cancel my “licence” and get my money back. The game company keeps the interest (or other profits) they earnt with my money.

Then they can re-licence the game to someone else, without the horror of me selling my copy of the game onwards to that person.

 

silenceoz:
spooler,

It’s the same with all items that are resold, if I sell my Sony TV they don’t get any more money.

It’s not the same you are reselling something physical. I look at digital downloads of games kind of like buying a movie ticket I get to enjoy this piece of art and it’s my unique experience now if I want I should be able to share that with other movie viewing friends but, I dunno I think intellectual property should be allowed to be shared but re selling something that is usually so cheap (steam sales $5 for a AAA title 1 year old) just doesn’t feel right to me.

More so when it comes to independent titles than ones large publishers get the majority of the cut on.

 

spooler: It’s not the same you are reselling something physical. I look at digital downloads of games kind of like buying a movie ticket I get to enjoy this piece of art and it’s my unique experience now if I want I should be able to share that with other movie viewing friends but, I dunno I think intellectual property should be allowed to be shared but re selling something that is usually so cheap (steam sales $5 for a AAA title 1 year old) just doesn’t feel right to me.

More so when it comes to independent titles than ones large publishers get the majority of the cut on.

So you don’t think people should be able to give, say, a vinyl record or a CD or a movie on DVD to a friend? Or a book? Not copy, give?

 

I think people have been trained so well they can’t see the wood for the trees any more.

The whole point of denying resale is to increase profits. The whole point of licensing is to deny people the ownership of some item/software they should own for the money paid. The whole point of cloud managed programs is to force the company to pay continually for a “service” which is not in reality a service but merely a program.

It’s all a money grab and to say that selling on second hand harms the developers is ludicrous. Publishers somehow manage to see it as lost revenue, but then again they are obsessed with taking money for nothing.

 

caitsith01The conception of what a digital product is being pushed by these companies is fundamentally at odds with notions of what it means to “buy” or “own” something which have been with us pretty much since we were cavemen.

Digital products have decoupled the information from the media. In the past we owned the media which came with a license for the information. But you can’t own the information.

If we want developers to continue to develop new information for us to consume in the future, they need to be able to profit from their work by selling us licenses to use their information.

I hate to say this but if we are able to resell our licenses we need DRM to ensure that licenses aren’t simply duplicated. Interestingly, if there is an efficient market for software licenses (buying and selling) then the prices may need to be raised by an order of magnitude. This is because the concurrent demand for licences would decrease by the same factor since you could sell them back to the market when you’ve finished using them and rebuy them when you need them again.

For example:

Say some AAA game costs $1000 at launch and depreciates in value at a rate of 33 % pa.

Many consumers would not have easy access to that much cash so the publisher could offer finance at a rate of 5 % pa.

At launch this would cost $1.23 per day for the license (you put up $1.23 and borrow $998.77 to buy the license which you sell tomorrow for $998.90 to repay the loan).

After 1 year the cost would reduce to $0.82 per day for the license. Of course you only pay for the days you actually use the license and not 365.25 days per year.

 

caitsith01: So you don’t think people should be able to give, say, a vinyl record or a CD or a movie on DVD to a friend?Or a book?Not copy, give?

Again, digital is different. What other product brought or gifted second hand do you expect to be identical to a new product? A digital game doesn’t degrade. It wont be scratched. It doesn’t have a damaged art book. Its stupid case ring cd holder bit isn’t damaged, it will be in the same ‘condition’ as when originally launched.

Instead of giving your friend a used dvd, you’re giving them what is essentially a brand new game, and that person gets to play it without the developer earning a cent. That game is also likely cheaper than the developers price point, because you’ve already played it and want to sell it off.

So what incentive do you as a consumer have to buy “new” from the developer? How do I make money past day one once my games are clocked and put up for resale as the exact same product?

You can see why multiplayer codes and the like came into popularity. I don’t think they are THE solution, but its a way of “degrading” the digital product so that the ‘used’ version of the game isn’t the equivalent of buying ‘new.’

 

akira675: Again, digital is different. What other product brought or gifted second hand do you expect to be identical to a new product? A digital game doesn’t degrade. It wont be scratched. It doesn’t have a damaged art book. Its stupid case ring cd holder bit isn’t damaged, it will be in the same ‘condition’ as when originally launched.

Instead of giving your friend a used dvd, you’re giving them what is essentially a brand new game, and that person gets to play it without the developer earning a cent. That game is also likely cheaper than the developers price point, because you’ve already played it and want to sell it off.

So what incentive do you as a consumer have to buy “new” from the developer? How do I make money past day one once my games are clocked and put up for resale as the exact same product?

You can see why multiplayer codes and the like came into popularity. I don’t think they are THE solution, but its a way of “degrading” the digital product so that the ‘used’ version of the game isn’t the equivalent of buying ‘new.’

So you think the value in a CD is that the “ring holder bit” isn’t damaged?

I buy second hand books all the time. They are worth exactly the same amount to me as new books, because the words in them are what gives them their value, not a perfect dust jacket.

When I give a DVD to someone and they watch it, they experience the exact same movie that I have already experienced. There is no functional difference because the case is a bit scuffed (or whatever). Of the several hundred DVDs I have owned, I would guess maybe 2-3 have been damaged to a point where they no longer work perfectly.

And in many cases, CDs ARE essentially in perfect condition when you buy them second hand.

 

jme:
If we want developers to continue to develop new information for us to consume in the future, they need to be able to profit from their work by selling us licenses to use their information.

I think you have it backwards.

The market is not a device for the convenience of vendors, to be controlled by them to maximise their profits. It is simply a machine for linking people who want to buy stuff with people who want to sell stuff.

They can choose to present an attractive and profitable product, or exit the market.

The fact that numerous games and loads of music are sold DRM-free conclusively proves that it is possible to make a profit without artificially controlling the way people use things they pay for.

The fact that years of digital physical media sales have not resulted in the collapse of Hollywood and the music industry conclusively proves that allowing customers to give/lend/sell pre-owned digital products to one another does not result in the cessation of production of new products.

There is no law of nature which states that the original creator or seller of an item has a right to perpetual profits every time it is resold.

 

caitsith01,

You missed the point.

The fact that it isn’t NEW is the point that gives the original author the ability to compete. Many people buy NEW because they want an original ‘pristine dusk jacket’ or ‘unscratched case’ for themselves. If there is no difference between the NEW and USED copy, what ability does the original content maker have to compete?

And how can the second hand book be worth the same to you as the original? You didn’t go to a store to pay full price for it in the first place, so its worth less. Try and tell the author that you think his second hand book is as valuable as the original copy, I’m sure he’ll take all the value from the “words in them” and buy himself a nice dinner.

 

Some of us have really bought into the EA/Valve/MS ownership ideas haven’t we.

The way I see it, If I Purchase/Buy/Trade money for a Game/DLC/Skin/Hat on a digital service.

I OWN that, the company sold it to me, once it was sold they forfeit all ownership of it.

It is at odds with the companies belief and some worrying beliefs of people in this comments section.

 

akira675: Again, digital is different. What other product brought or gifted second hand do you expect to be identical to a new product? A digital game doesn’t degrade. It wont be scratched. It doesn’t have a damaged art book. Its stupid case ring cd holder bit isn’t damaged, it will be in the same ‘condition’ as when originally launched.

Instead of giving your friend a used dvd, you’re giving them what is essentially a brand new game, and that person gets to play it without the developer earning a cent. That game is also likely cheaper than the developers price point, because you’ve already played it and want to sell it off.

So what incentive do you as a consumer have to buy “new” from the developer? How do I make money past day one once my games are clocked and put up for resale as the exact same product?

You can see why multiplayer codes and the like came into popularity. I don’t think they are THE solution, but its a way of “degrading” the digital product so that the ‘used’ version of the game isn’t the equivalent of buying ‘new.’

This is why the publisher needs to reduce the prices from launch. Demand decreases as alternative games come onto the market.

 
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