The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) is suing Valve over Steam's refusal to let users resell their games. According to Carola Elbrecht, the VZVB's project manager for digital consumer rights, Steam users should be given the same rights as owners of traditional board games - allowed to sell their used copies on at will.
The VZVB's complaint is that purchased games are tied to a user's Steam account, with no option to transfer the license to a third-party. The organisation also notes that, for those games that use Steamworks, it makes no difference whether a game was purchased online or as physical media, as either way the game is locked to a Steam account on installation.
The lawsuit follows a cease-and-desist order the company issued to Valve back in September. That action was prompted by not only the resale issue, but also in response to the
updated Steam Subscriber Agreement
, which prohibited class-action suits against the company.
The consumer group have attempted to sue Valve over game reselling before, but the case was dismissed by the German Federal Court of Justice in 2010. However, back in July, the The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the trading of "used" software licenses was legal, and the VZVB are hoping that this lends credence to their case.
Of course, Valve aren't alone in this practice. No digital distributor offers the option to sell on your used licenses to a third-party. Elbrecht says that, while Valve are the target, the suit is meant to serve as a signal to other distributors that operate the same way.