July 1, 2022

Valve’s Actions Defy EU Laws, States French High Court

Valve has recently been in the French High Court over their practices. French consumer organisation UFC-Que Choisir is arguing over Steam user’s being able to resell digital games.

UFC-Que Choisir brought this issue up in the French Courts back in 2015. There are a few more issues, but their biggest grip was over the Steam reselling issue.

French gaming site Numerama and Choisir reported that the High Court of Paris has ruled in Choisir’s favour.

Valve plans on appealing against the decision, as the reports state.

However, if their appeal fails, the Courts’ ruling stands to have huge ramifications. These could affect the whole of the European Union.

Not a Subscription-based Platform

The High Court said Valve’s defence that Steam is a subscription-based service was not compelling enough. The High Court found that Steam sells games in perpetuity and not as part of a subscription package as claimed.

Therefore, the ban on reselling games goes against EU laws on digital goods. As the law states, it is designed to block any and all prohibitions on “the free movement of goods within the Union.”

And yes, digital goods do come under this banner. All goods can be resold without the permission of the original seller or maker of any product in accordance with the law.

Difficult Time For Valve

However, the Court did add that any resale of a game must be of a single copy and not of duplicates.

So, in short, the Parisian High Court has declared that users should be allowed to resell their Steam games.

Again, there’s more to it than just that one point. One of Choisir’s points in their original suit was that, if a user leaves Steam, Valve would keep whatever currency was left in their Steam Wallet. As a result of the ruling, Valve would instead have to reimburse any users who requested it.

If Valve were to refuse to change their rules in regards to reimbursing users and other additional points and post the Courts’ decision within a month, they could be fined. And this fine could be anything up to 3,000 Euros (around £2,644) per day for up to six months. It might not be too much for a company as established and developed as Valve, but a loss of money will still be detrimental.

Parisian High Court

Valve’s Rebuttal

A representative from Valve told Kotaku via email;

“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.”

https://www.kotaku.co.uk/2019/09/19/french-court-says-valve-must-allow-steam-users-to-resell-games

Users should not expect any changes in the near future. Valve has three months to implement any changes, but the appeal will likely delay that. It remains to be seen what, if anything, it will do for the ruling. Regardless, UFC-Que Choisir won.

Even though this is a win, there is no word on how long these changes will take to come into effect. Valve will no doubt find some way to counter this with their appeal. Even if the appeal is thrown out immediately, there is no word on how long it would take for a Union-wide change to be implemented.

There is still no way for users to sell on their digital games. For now.


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