This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, geek culture, and things related to video games. Please leave feedback and let us know if there’s something you want us to cover!
The District Court of Paris has ruled that Steam users have the right to resell games they buy on the digital platform.
In 2015 a case was brought brought against Valve’s digital store by consumer group “UFC-Que Choisir” (Federal Union of Consumers- What do Choose), with their primary concern being that digital games should be eligible for resale, like physical games.
Now Next Impact and Numerama (with an English translation appearing on r/Games on Reddit) are reporting that the District Court of Paris has ruled that the Steam’s Subscriber Agreement is in violation of European Law.
The judge cited a 2012 European Court ruling, stating transactions of digital goods implied the transfer of ownership and all rights that came with it. Despite the agreement being subscription based, the court ruled that users were purchasing licences- meaning that European Union law would apply. At least, to Steam users within France and the European Union.
“[Valve] can no longer oppose the resale of this copy…even if the initial purchase is made by downloading.”
14 other clauses and terms in the Steam Subscriber Agreement were also “deemed unwritten” (a clause that is unfair and unlawful under EU Law). This includes Valve being unable to keep the contents of Steam Wallet funds when a user leaves the platform, and that users should be reimbursed when requested.
They also state Valve should accept responsibility when a game from the platform harms a user (such as damaging their PC’s operation) even if it is beta. In addition, the ways in which a user can lose access to their Steam Library for poor conduct must be made clearer.
Another ruling stated that Valve must reduce its ownership on mods and user-created content. Due to the Steam Workshop (and how the contents of some content can become official and sold such as with Team Fortress 2), this is sure to cause some interesting reactions from Valve.
If Valve refuses to abide by this ruling within one month, it will have to pay a fine of €3,000 per day for up to six months. While UFC-Que Choisir states it plans to take similar action against other platforms (this could include the likes of Good Old Games and the Epic Game Store), Valve still has the right to appeal.
Valve’s Vice President of Marketing Doug Lombardi issued a succinct statement to PC Gamer, confirming this.
“We disagree with the decision of the Paris Court of First Instance and will appeal it. The decision will have no effect on Steam while the case is on appeal.”
This is not to be confused with the other EU-based legal battle Valve is currently involved with. While five other video game companies settled in a lawsuit over geo-blocking, Valve chose to fight against the anti-trust case.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!