On July 3, 2012 the Courts of Justice of the European Union made the decision that “an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet”. This means that in the EU it is now illegal for developers to say that used game sales are killing the industry.
This is a breathe of fresh air in the heavily publisher/developer friendly realm of video game business. I’m sure it won’t change a whole lot. Distributors will probably just move towards full on leasing their games instead of pretending to sell them. This is still a great thing to hear, regardless. For a while now, digital distribution platforms have forgotten what to sell something means. This won’t effect distributors like GoG much, but it will be interesting to see how clients like Steam and Origin change to adapt to this new legislation.
This doesn’t only affect PC gaming, however. With digital distribution making it’s way to consoles through Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and rumors that the next Microsoft console will be without a disk drive this could cause some huge changes in the business tactics of the industry. There has also been plenty of talk from developers that used game sales are killing the industry, and this will certainly cause some problems for them. Games like Resident Evil: Mercenaries may or may not be affected by this ruling, however. It is possible that because when you buy the software you buy it with full knowledge of it’s save file locks, but we will have to wait and see what the courts decide.
I’m especially interested to see the responses that will be made by the various companies, whether they will try to ignore it and hope that no one notices, go into damage control and try to reconcile the situation with some kind of spin, or fight back in court. What ever happens, it’s good to see a step in the favor of the consumer for once. For far too long the publishers and distributors have been the ones gathering the favorable outcomes in this fight.
For further information this is the link to the EU press release on the decision: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2012-07/cp120094en.pdf