Valve Corporation and French consumer rights group UFC Que Choisir have been embroiled in a legal battle for years to contest the legality of certain clauses within Steam's Subscriber Agreement under European law. Now a new ruling by a French court may forever change the way the gaming industry buys, sells, and plays video games.
A portion in Steam's user agreement basically states that games purchased on its digital store aren't actually owned by gamers. This means that users basically don't have consumer rights, which is to say that they are not allowed to resell the games they have bought.
Well, the District Court of Paris has struck down the notion that Steam sells subscriptions. The court says that consumers must have the right to do whatever they want with their games due to the fact that Stam sold them with licenses.
In spite of the fact that games bought on Steam are in digital format, users are to be given the right to resell them.
Valve was also questioned for its other practices, including not accepting responsibility if a user's computer is compromised by software bought on Steam, vague moderation policies, and keeping Steam Wallet funds if a user decides to leave the platform.
It is understood that Valve will file an appeal, but it's certain that the French court's ruling will cause changes across the EU, and eventually across the globe. UFC Que Choisir isn't over either - the group plans to challenge other digital platforms and products as well.
Should reselling games become a legal requirement, it will cause a big change in the gaming industry as a whole. As of the moment, the entire industry is already practicing a subscription-based model the likes of EA's Origin, and Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass. Moreover, the new ruling would also hasten the move to the subscription model if users will be indeed allowed to resell their digital games.
Perhaps there is a workaround to this new ruling - Steam and other digital stores will, of course, find a way to make reselling work. If Valve manages to come up with a way to still make money in the midst of reselling consumers, it could be beneficial for all - consumers, publishers, and digital storefronts.
Whatever the outcome will be, it's safe to say that the video game industry will undergo major changes soon. Steam is also the beginning - other digital services should start preparing now.