Yesterday’s EU ruling about secondhand software licenses: Good Old Games, Green Man and GamerLaw comment.

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Following the stunning EU legislation we talked about yesterday, we contacted several major games e-tailers to get comment on how the legislation would affect their business. We still haven’t heard from Valve or Gamersgate but we’ve had responses from many other companies. They’re below.

Michał Dys, Marketing Manager, GOG.com

“It is hard to say today whether this ruling will impact the business model of GOG.com, because it’s almost impossible to predict the short- and long-term ramifications of this decision for digital distribution and gamers. Right now, most of the discussion centers around an unofficial document for media use; the full text of the judgement needs to be analyzed by lawyers and industry experts.
Additionally, this is a very specific case, and we’ll need to see how this impacts industry as a whole both in the EU and worldwide. We are aware that the consequences can be game-changing and we’re definitely looking carefully into this situation. Gamers’ satisfaction has always been the key concern of GOG.com and therefore, if any new regulation which provides gamers with more freedom is established, we will adjust our business model.”

Jas Purewal, Gamerlaw.

“The second hand sale of used physical and digital software has effectively been declared legal, according to a judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday. The case has a potentially significant legal impact on the increasing second hand trade in software, particularly games. However, in some ways the case raises more legal questions than it answers and, in any event, is unlikely to stop efforts by big software businesses to stop or at least reduce second hand sales. The case also seems to conflict with the position taken so far in the USA.”
(Jas has written lots more on this here: http://www.gamerlaw.co.uk/2012/07/legality-of-second-hand-sales-in-eu.html.)

Tom Goldberger,EA PR

“We don’t have a comment to make right now. I’ll keep you updated if we do wish to issue a statement.”

Paul Sulyok, Managing Director, Green Man Gaming (via Eurogamer)

“Medium term, I think some first acquirer somewhere is going to push this through, because it’s the kind of thing the community does, and it’s their right to. There will be a first case against one of the platform holders. The result of that is a foregone conclusion. So they will have to facilitate that. This will shake up the digital distribution market. Long-term there are some important implications and this is very disruptive. Both Origin and Steam would have to facilitate some kind of method whereby a consumer could revoke the activation of that key and then pass a brand new key onto a third part.

The major platform holders are the ones that will be significantly impacted by this. If in Europe legally they are bound to give people the rights to be able to switch off a game and pass a token or a digital code on to a third party, that’s a very interesting proposition. It’s only one step away from being in a situation where a first acquirer says, I would like to have the rights to do this and I have the right to do this, therefore your system should facilitate it. It does link together.

The classic technique of deep discount, short time limited discounts, all of that will be slightly skewed now, because you don’t want to have a deep discounted game that can then be sold on elsewhere. The secondary market then cuts in and then what will happen is the same sort of thing as you’ve seen in the high street whereby a supermarket chain puts a fantastic discount on a product for consumers and all the other high street retailers trot down to the supermarket to buy them to stop them.

When we do this we like to ensure publishers benefit from the resale of the digital product. All of our publishers who are on a trade-in contract benefit on a per transaction base every time that game is sold. It will be an interesting conference call that Steam will have with Origin first thing in the morning, when the West Coast wakes up.”

Green Man Gaming owns several patents on the part-exchange of digital goods – which could cause further problems for the big e-tailers.

Image courtesy of Plex