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DEAD GAME NEWS: FRANCE VS. VALVE + MAYBE THE REST OF THE WORLD

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On 9/30/2019 at 12:32 PM, Delicieuxz said:

A 2nd-hand license activation fee to play a game on a different account is not a new concept. It has been considered by companies before:

 

https://www.cinemablend.com/games/Xbox-One-Used-Game-Activation-Fee-52-56040.html

https://www.engadget.com/2013/06/06/xbox-one-used-games-always-online/

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/thq-to-charge-second-hand-users-for-online-play

 

And the idea was even implemented by some companies, including EA:

 

https://www.ea.com/news/online-pass-for-ea-sports-simulation-games

 

So, it can be done, and it has been done.

 

I don't see how that second hand activation fee can comply with the ruling. This court ruling is that you get to sell your copy of a game because you own that copy. The second hand activation fee is saying that there is part of your copy of the game that you do not own. What makes the content restricted by the second hand activation fee so special that it's exempt from the ruling ?

 

If this ruling is that the digital stores have to allow you to sell individual games, what I see happening is:

 - Valve will just have you selling games second hand via the Steam Market, which already gives the developer a cut of trading card and in-game item sales that happen on it. So the developers will get a cut of any second hand sales, the only question is the size of their cut. If Valve allows people to arrange sales via other websites*, the Steam market will still dominate due to it being more convenient and having less problems from scammers.

 - The Epic store might have problems. This is a store that has been promising simple things like a wishlist or shopping cart for over 6 months. A store where the lack of a shopping cart caused customers to trip the stores own anti-fraud system in their first major sale. So I question their ability to comply with the ruling.

 - GOG might try to an argue for an exception. Their strict policy against DRM means that there is a risk of people unknowingly running a copy of a game from their computer after they have sold it. Sure, Steam's DRM is easily cracked, but that still requires the pirate to take intentional action to crack it, so they should know they are doing something wrong. I'm not sure if GOG could get an "accidental piracy" exception, but I expect them to try. If they get it, things get interesting.

 

*Which only requires Valve to implement a way for you to send your game from your Steam account to another.

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15 hours ago, Bilateralrope said:

Even if the owner of the account gives you permission to access it ?

 

Because giving permission for the new owner to access the account is an implicit part of any sale.

Yes, even then. Selling accounts is not currently legal in the USA.

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1 hour ago, BTGBullseye said:

Yes, even then. Selling accounts is not currently legal in the USA.

Could you cite the specific law or judicial precedent which makes it illegal ?

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On 9/30/2019 at 9:20 AM, BTGBullseye said:

Unfortunately, that will run exactly opposite existing USA law. You can actually get federal jail time for "sharing" an account like that. (if the federal government so chooses to target you thus)

Do you have a source for that?

 

16 hours ago, Bilateralrope said:

I don't see how that second hand activation fee can comply with the ruling. This court ruling is that you get to sell your copy of a game because you own that copy. The second hand activation fee is saying that there is part of your copy of the game that you do not own. What makes the content restricted by the second hand activation fee so special that it's exempt from the ruling ?

A second-hand activation fee doesn't say a part of the game isn't owned, it only says that the digital delivery service that a person wants to use a game with isn't owned by the purchaser of the second-hand game. A 2nd-hand activation fee also doesn't interfere with selling a game, as 2nd-hand activation only occurs after a game has already been successfully sold.

 

A game and the online servers a game can be used with are two distinct properties. The game is sold and bought separately from the online servers. So, currently, both before and after the Paris High Court's judgment, Valve's servers belong to Valve. If they want to charge to let a 2nd-hand license make use of their digital delivery services, then that's really up to them.

 

The same understanding regarding the distinction between already exists with multiplayer games, where a person buying a game that has a multiplayer component doesn't mean that they own the online component host's servers that the game needs to be played online. A company that runs online servers for a game is entitled to shut-down their servers whenever they choose, which leaves the part of a game that depended on those servers inoperable. If companies couldn't charge 2nd-hand activation fees for the right to use their digital delivery services, then they couldn't shut-down their multiplayer servers, either.

 

A host of a multiplayer game or component of a game is also entitled to deactivate a person's account on their servers for the same reason of their servers and their online service belonging exclusively to them and buying their game didn't transfer any ownership over the servers to whoever bought their game.

 

 

And this another reason why game ownership has to be defended: If digital platforms choose to close or restrict somebody's account or to refuse digital delivery of a game, if you own the game then you are entitled to use your license by other means, such as by cracking any DRM. But if you don't own the game, then companies can attack you for bypassing artificial DRM restrictions, claiming that playing the game apart from their permission through their approved methods is illegal and piracy.

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1 minute ago, Delicieuxz said:

Do you have a source for that?

 

A second-hand activation fee doesn't say a part of the game isn't owned, it only says that the digital delivery service that a person wants to use a game with isn't owned by the purchaser of the second-hand game. A 2nd-hand activation fee also doesn't interfere with selling a game, as 2nd-hand activation only occurs after a game has already been successfully sold.

 

A game and the online servers a game can be used with are two distinct properties. The game is sold and bought separately from the online servers. So, currently, both before and after the Paris High Court's judgment, Valve's servers belong to Valve. If they want to charge to let a 2nd-hand license make use of their digital delivery services, then that's really up to them.

 

You seem to be saying that what's special about the content behind the second hand activation fee is that the game developer decided to put it behind there. So what happens when they put most of the game behind it ?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Bilateralrope said:

You seem to be saying that what's special about the content behind the second hand activation fee is that the game developer decided to put it behind there. So what happens when they put most of the game behind it ?

I'm not meaning to suggest that there's any content locked behind a 2nd-hand activation fee. The 2nd-hand activation fee is to make use of a platform's digital delivery service to download and play the game through that platform.

 

Buying a game entitles a person to play the game. However, it doesn't entitle a person to get free services from a 3rd-party platform. Somewhat similarly, buying a car doesn't entitle the car-owner to free gas from gas stations. Yet, gas is needed to use the car.

 

With games, digital delivery from a platform might not be needed to use a game, if the game can be downloaded elsewhere. But in order to use a platform's services you'll become subject to their term for usage of their services (which games purchased through them are not a part of).

 

In the same way that games purchased through a platform are distinct from the platform's online services, having a right to play a purchased game is distinct from having a right to use a 3rd-party's own servers and services.

 

The idea that buying a game includes a right to use 3rd-party servers is associating the game ownership and the right to the game with the servers, just like when a platform or publisher tries to argue that people don't own their games. It's saying that companies don't own their own servers and service infrastructure, and is implying that buying a game means you also bought the 3rd-party servers the game can be used with or downloaded from and so have rights over those servers.

Edited by Delicieuxz

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5 hours ago, Bilateralrope said:

Could you cite the specific law or judicial precedent which makes it illegal ?

4 hours ago, Delicieuxz said:

Do you have a source for that?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Fraud_and_Abuse_Act

 

It's been abused for similar prosecutions previously, and I can guarantee that it will be abused again, especially with this ruling.

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