French Steam Lawsuit

Valve is once again heading to court to defend its subscriber agreement, as this report (in French) describes a suit by a French consumer rights group over aspects of their terms of service. PC Gamer points the way to a translation by redditor Silencement of key points in the case:

  • Steam's Subscriber Agreement explicitly forbids users to sell their games, despite the transfer of ownership of digital products/licenses being legal.
  • Valve declines responsibility in the event that users' personal information is stolen.
  • Valve claims ownership of the rights of any user-created content uploaded to Steam.
  • It is impossible to get the money on your Steam Wallet back if your account is closed/deleted/banned.
  • Valve applies Luxembourg's consumer law regardless of the user's country.
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Re: French Steam Lawsuit
Dec 18, 2015, 23:13
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Re: French Steam Lawsuit Dec 18, 2015, 23:13
Dec 18, 2015, 23:13
 
NKD wrote on Dec 18, 2015, 14:29:
Creston wrote on Dec 18, 2015, 12:13:
. Point 1, eh...

Free-for-all resale of digital licenses isn't something I want. It's actually kind of a scary idea. Not because I don't think it would be cool, but because none of us would like what the industry does to compensate for the fact that it would kill their current sale numbers.

Right now, used game resale is kept in check by the fact that it's kind of a pain in the ass. You either deal with a middleman that rapes you like Gamestop, or you sell direct to other users and have to package your own shit, send it off, blah blah, take a loss on shipping and so forth. Not long and the game isn't even worth selling because the price you can get for it isn't worth the hassle.These factors all keep it from being too disruptive, but, it's still disruptive. One of the primary reason we have so much DLC and Season Pass crap is due to game resale. People aren't going to be so eager to get rid of that game knowing that more content is coming down the line.

Now, let's imagine you could do free-for-all resale of your digital titles on Steam. Why would you ever, ever, EVER buy new unless you were literally forced due to a lack of available used copies? Developers would only ever sell enough copies to satisfy concurrent demand, and then re-circulation of used copies would ensure they never see another copy sold. So, developers would then focus on shipping titles where concurrent demand is high, or peaks for a long period of time, or can be somehow manipulated. Episodic content releases that require the previous episodes be installed might be one thing. Especially if the gaps between episodes are short enough.

And what about titles where concurrent demand is low like small cheap indie games with a single player experience 4-6 hours in length? You might as well not even create these any more, because the short length and low replay-ability ensures that a very small number of copies recirculating quickly is enough to sate demand. Even if they sell it for $3-4, and it's a high quality experience, there is no reason to keep it in your inventory. None.

In general, there would be no reason to keep an extensive Steam library. Why would you? You're literally pissing away money because you can always re-buy that title later on, probably for cheaper than you sold it for. Demand for games eventually bottoms out, and once there is a pool of used copies that will never be depleted, Supply & Demand will dictate that the price for such a game bottoms out as well.

I see two scenarios for buying habits that would arise:

A) Buy new, rip thru the game, resell quickly for maximum value, rebuy later on when price bottoms out to add to your Steam library.

B) Never buy new. Always wait for price to bottom out and then buy.

Neither of these scenarios are compatible with the current gaming business model. Companies would be unable to make money under these conditions.

Well, that's not really our problem, but publishers will find a way to get their money out of us. They aren't simply going to lay off 90% of their employees and go back to making low budget games. They'll avoid selling on platforms that allow resale where possible. They'll lock content behind account systems and other mechanisms that discourage resale. They may even pull out of countries where they are legally mandated to allow resale. They'll needlessly pad out their titles and rely on psychologically addictive gameplay loops rather than actual good games. I'm sure we can all think of a lot of other good ways to milk consumers for money. A lot of these ideas are already being used, they'd just be used a lot more.

So yeah, at the end of the day gamers have shown they have very little in the way of balls when it comes to putting their foot down on exploitative business models. So whatever way the industry would adjust to widespread digital resale, people would just bend over and take it. And we'd probably end up worse off than before.

In addition you would never see summer sales or discounts on games since everyone and their mom would buy Game A at 80% off in bulk then attempt to resale.
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