In the last week the European Court of Justice ruled on a case that could have massive implications for digital game sales in Europe. In the case, the court ruled that a publisher “could not oppose the resale of used licenses” in effect paving the way for a market in used downloaded games.
When PCGamesN asked about Valve’s response to the ruling at the Develop Conference in Brighton, Valve’s Director of Business Development Jason Holtman offered a concise response: “we don’t have any plans to change”. When pressed, he repeated the phrase: “we don’t have any plans to change.”
Alongside revealing that Steam Big Picture Mode is coming soon,Jason also offered a little bit of perspective on the difficult issue of games being withdrawn from sale on Steam in the UK. Over the last three years, games using Steamworks (Valve’s publishing, matchmaking and achievement platform) have been withheld from sale on Steam, but been made available in retail stores – and no developer, publisher or retailer has been prepared to go on record as to why. In effect, gamers could only buy Steam games in brick and mortar stores. It had been speculated that local retailers were attempting to put pressure on publishers to delay them publishing games on Steam. But whatever the reason – it was exceptionally odd.
“There are lots of reasons why those things happen,” explains Jason, “and we don’t comment on that. But I think what the important piece about Steam and Steamworks is is that we decouple those things [i.e. you can use Steamworks without publishing on Steam]. At the end of the day, the partner can choose what to do. We haven’t linked those two things up. If you have a Steamworks enabled game and don’t want it on the store, or it isn’t on the store for another reason, that’s fine as well.”
In the past six months, the situation appears to have been resolved. “You’re right,” says Jason, “it was odd. But I think it worked out in the end for customers.”