Secondhand digitally distributed games … rt-6385463

The EU has ruled that software licenses - either on a disc or digitally distributed - can no longer be prevented from being sold by the software producer.

I always thought that there was a bit of a double standard with software licences being treated as property (piracy is theft, etc), while at the same time not being able to be resold like any other item of property.

Generally speaking, I think this is good news for gamers, but it’s a bit concerning for services like GOG which are DRM-free. For example, the article says “Its ruling stipulated that the piece of software must be made inoperable for the reseller”. But how exactly would that work for games which are completely detached from a client like GOG’s games?

It’s good and bad so it remains to be seen how it’s handled. Many publishers are aware that the future is likely primarily digitally distributed software, they could easily bypass this ruling by simply stopping to sell games altogether, tying their software to strict rental type distribution methods, by session or certain time periods, going completely free to play, or whatever, not to mention seeing single player focused software further diminish in value for them, when it’s already a bad trend that every title has to offer some kind of multiplayer mode, DLC, and so on. As you mention it could also force everyone to start tying previously DRM-free software to actual always-online DRM solutions, to avoid people selling their games to others, possibly multiple times, yet still keeping a copy for themselves. Many potential scenarios could end up worse for consumers compared to some current situations which allow for cheap games with reasonably strict DRM even if they have the lack of resale potential downside, which isn’t so bad depending on cost.

Piracy isn’t theft, it’s piracy. I don’t think digitally distributed or otherwise software should be compared to physical goods in any way either. Physical goods are worn, software isn’t, so the resale value in theory remains 100% outside shrink wrapped collection purposes. Moreover, it’s far easier to exploit such freedom in large scale online, while it can be potentially harder to find something physical used, especially during launch events. If Steam for example allowed you to sell your game to anyone as simply as you can trade TF2 hats and vouchers, I think many developers (as not only big publishers use that platform) would never see a dime past the launch period, as, for example, 3 million total sales could just be derived from an initial 250k early adopters that enjoyed the game the first weeks, sold it off, and allowed the cycle to repeat until everyone interested had played through it. There’s not much you can do to combat such a phenomenon so perhaps such a ruling should have included the possibility that it’s actually okay that a % from such a transaction would go to the publisher, developer, distribution platform, etc, similar perhaps to how Blizzard handles Diablo III auctions.

Yeah that does sound pretty bad.

I agree with the first part, but it’s often perceived as such. So one the one hand there’s the claim that each pirate copy is like a stolen asset, while on the other you’re restricted with what you can do with that license (far beyond what you could do with a physical item). I agree with you that the analogy is weak.

That’s a good point. One point I’ll add, though, is that physical games are quite easy to keep in good shape through many (although not unlimited) uses, especially if the game is only played once and then sold on. I have very worries about buying a used game online, whereas if it was a laptop, say, I’d be much more cautious.

Is there some sales data on those TF2 items? It might make a good comparison if indeed whole games can be traded in that way in the future.

I dunno about TF2 item sales, I think they may have celebrated certain milestones with announcements, but either way it’s not a good measurement because the majority of TF2 items can be earned via gameplay as well rather than just be bought outright, via random drops, crafting, and whatever other method (I’m not that into it and never cared to buy anything or get a particular item to find out how it can be earned). It’s also likely that the best items will be wanted “forever” by people who buy them, since they’ll always have their TF2 account (the game is free to play these days after all), rather than be traded off to others while I also don’t think you can trade them for money past the initial purchase but only for other such items, totally unlike the proposed method for video games.