French consumer group UFC Que Choisir has won a landmark victory in the French courts, which ruled that consumer rights mean that gaming platform Steam must allow the resale of digital games bought on its platform.
Currently, the subscription agreement that Steam owner Valve lays out says that you're not buying games from them; you're getting a lifetime subscription for a one-time fee. This is how Valve they can justify taking certain games away, or even removing games from people's accounts or banning people from Steam for infractions.
Reported on the French language Numerama, UFC managed to get several clauses in Valve's subscriber agreement changed, the most substantial of which is the inherent right to resell their pre-owned digital games.
The ruling is currently only for French courts, but it's unclear yet whether this will be upheld in the EU courts. Back in 2014, German courts ruled against users' rights to resell digital games. But the landscape has changed somewhat over the last five years, and this ruling is the end of a three year battle from UFC. This seems to stick mainly with what the European Court ruled in 2012 when it said that a rightsholder was forbidden from opposing the resale of software.
Microsoft pushed the idea of a truly digital Xbox when they announced the Xbox One to the world, with the concept of reselling your digital libraries. However, this was pushed back against by both consumers, who hated the idea of an always-online, digital-only console. It was also opposed by brick-and-mortar game retailers, who realized that pre-owned games were a large part of their market. They didn't fancy letting the platform holders keep all of the fun for themselves.
Right now, the entire games industry is full of questions but has no answers. It's not clear how Steam will react.