Yesterday the European Court of Justice ruled that consumers had the right to sell digital their digital games . This is something that could potentially change digital distribution forever, but how exactly? Eurogamer have been speaking to Paul Sulyok, CEO of Green Man Gaming, about what all this could mean.
The ruling states that you can sell your digital games onward, but that you must disable your own copy to do so. Currently most digital retailers have no way to do this beyond selling your entire account. Sulyok believes that companies will be forced to provide this, but only after a test case has gone to court. "There will be a first case against one of the platform holders." He says. "The result of that is a foregone conclusion. So they will have to facilitate that."
There's a few potential impacts this could have on the market. With Sulyok pointing out that the current trend for short term, high discount sales is vulnerable to the emergence of a used market. A third party could buy keys in bulk during a sale, and then sell them on at a mark up once the sale has ended, undercutting the original distributor. "The classic technique of deep discount, short time limited discounts, all of that will be slightly skewed now." he says "Because you don't want to have a deep discounted game that can then be sold on elsewhere."
Green Man Gaming currently allows gamers to trade in their downloaded games to get discounts on future purposes. But Sulyok points out that if Steam or Origin were to enact the same practice it would have a serious impact on his business. Again this allows third parties to game the system by taking advantage of a short term sales, then trading them in.
Gamers have grown accustomed to big Steam sales and Humble Bundles giving them cheap games in a short term window, but this ruling could threaten that practice. If putting your game in the Humble Bundle just once will grant third party distributors an infinite number of one penny copies, people might not be willing to take the risk.