News has broken that a court in France has ruled that consumers have the right to resell their digital games in the same way they would a physical product – a move that has massive implications to all digital game retailers worldwide.
The ruling, which was specific to a case against Steam owners, Valve, doesn’t specify how reselling should happen, but does clarify consumer rights means that anyone should be allowed to sell any digital key they have purchased to a third party even after the content has been consumed or played. The ruling also sets the precedent that platform holders must facilitate the ability for users to resell digital games.
While this ruling currently applies in France it is now likely that consumer groups in other regions will push this issue into their courts and if they rule in a similar way we could be seeing a huge shakeup in digital sales about to happen.
It should also be considered that this ruling will not only affect games but will indeed apply to all digital goods – films, music, eBooks and more. With that in mind the implications are massive across a whole swathe of retailers including the likes of Amazon, Epic and Steam.
The obvious answer for publishers is to continue the shift towards a subscription model at a much faster pace, but that doesn’t account for the millions of digital products already on the market. It’s a move that strongly supports consumer rights but may have a wider impact upon publishers through a decline in sales of digital goods if they are unable to retain a cut of the secondary sale market.
We’ll be watching how this ruling impacts and whether the ruling is emulated in other countries. This is a very early first step in a case that is likely to go back and forth for a long time but as we move to a world without physical entertainment products ensuring consumer rights are protected is something that has to be at the forefront of developments.
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