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GMG and industry lawyer react to EU digital resales ruling

GMG's Paul Sulyok predicts big changes, while law expert Jas Purewal find problems

CEO of Green Man Gaming Paul Sulyok has reacted to the recent EU ruling on the resale of downloaded games, and warned it will "shake up the digital distribution market," while industry lawyer Jas Purewal argued the situation isn't so clear cut.

"This will shake up the digital distribution market. Long-term there are some important implications and this is very disruptive," Sulyok told Eurogamer.

The ruling overrides any EULA's, and allows consumers to resell any digital games, provided they make their copy unusable. Sulyok argued the community will demand the ability to do so, and the big digital distributors will have to react.

"Both Origin and Steam would have to facilitate some kind of method whereby a consumer could revoke the activation of that key and then pass a brand new key onto a third party."

He believed it would change the nature of sales and discounts in the digital gaming market.

"The classic technique of deep discount, short time limited discounts, all of that will be slightly skewed now, because you don't want to have a deep discounted game that can then be sold on elsewhere," he explained.

"The secondary market then cuts in and then what will happen is the same sort of thing as you've seen in the high street whereby a supermarket chain puts a fantastic discount on a product for consumers and all the other high street retailers trot down to the supermarket to buy them to stop them."

Jas Purewal, a lawyer who specialises in games industry issues, took to his blog to highlight some of the questions raised by the ruling. For instance, what about mobile apps where it just isn't possible to transfer games to a new user, or is a game that sees updated content added.

"The CJEU rather blithely said that there isn't a problem if the software changes/is updated/patched in between being bought for the first time and then for a second time," he noted.

"Really? What if the software goes from alpha to gold, or if it has substantial additional content added to it? Is it really the same thing then? I suspect the CJEU has stored some trouble up for itself here."

He also saw problems with making sure that users weren't selling on software, while at the same time continuing to use it themselves. Even the obvious solution, product keys, raised its own questions.

"To my mind, it suggests a situation in which product keys go from being one use only to becoming multi-use subject to some kind of transfer mechanism being put in place. Imagine that Windows 9 goes from having a single, one-use product key to having a product key which can be 'wiped' and reused by a second purchaser. Sound like it could cause problems to you? Me too."

He believes that game publishers will turn to cloud computing and "software as a service" and this will eventually lessen the importance of the ruling.

"I think [the ruling] will have a sizeable short term impact, with a whole range of software businesses considering how it affects them. However, looking beyond that it seems clear already that the CJEU has posed more questions than it has answered and, in any event, nothing stays still in the world of tech and software," he concluded.

"Will this case seem so epic in a year or three's time?"

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Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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