Back in 2015, Valve got sued by a French consumer organisation called UFC-Que Choisir (not to be confused with non-French, non-consumer organisation the Ultimate Fighting Championship). UFC-Que Choisir had a multitude of bones to pick with the longtime Steam steward, the biggest among them being that Steam doesn’t let users resell their games. Four years later, a French court has ruled in UFC-Que Choisir’s favour. Valve plans to appeal.
If Valve’s appeal fails, this ruling stands to have ramifications not just in France, but across the European Union. Specifically, the court didn’t find Valve’s defence that Steam is a subscription service compelling. As a result, the court declared that users should be allowed to resell Steam games.
The court ruled in favour of UFC-Que Choisir on other counts, too. In its original suit, the organisation had also taken aim at the fact that, if a user leaves Steam, Valve would keep whatever currency was left in their Steam Wallet. The recent ruling states that the company will instead have to reimburse users who request it. Valve must now also accept responsibility when users say an item on Steam caused them harm, even if it’s in beta. Valve’s rights to users’ mods and community content will also be diminished, and the company will have to clarify the conditions under which users can lose access to Steam for poor behaviour.
If Valve refuses to change its rules and post the court’s decision to Steam within a month, it will have to pay a fine of up to 3,000 euros (around $4,900) per day for up to six months.
Again, though, Valve, plans to appeal the ruling. “We disagree with the decision of the Paris Court of First Instance and will appeal it,” a Valve representative told Kotaku in an email. “The decision will have no effect on Steam while the case is on appeal.”
So don’t expect any major changes in the near future. Still, it’s notable that UFC-Que Choisir scored this victory, and it could very well lead to changes on Valve’s platform. A 2014 Australian court ruling, for example, led to Steam’s current refund policy. Similarly, the company began to go after the 2.3 billion dollar Counter-Strike gambling ring that sprung up in its backyard in 2016 only after lawsuits began to trickle in. For now, however, the appeal still lies ahead, so probably don’t go around trying to pawn off your old, digital-dust-covered games just yet.