Can You Resell Digital Copies of Video Games?

Authors: Erikas Saukalas, Associated Partner, Attorney-at-law, Head of International Relations Division at METIDA, Ignas Motiejunas, Junior Lawyer at METIDA

controller-852271_640Marketing video games on a material medium has become less popular among video games creators who now prefer to distribute their works using other companies’ services such as a well-known platform Stream. But can digital video games downloaded from these platforms be treated as your own property in the same manner as the games stored in data storage devices (e.g. DVDs)?

It is not surprising that the majority of video games creators and distributors such as Stream striving to fight piracy and protect their own sales channels forbid users to resell their games.

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has ruled that the resale of software licences is legal if it meets specific requirements. However, this decision is not as far-reaching as it may appear to some video games owners, since the CJEU also held that video game is a more complex work than the simple software, i.e. it consists of audio-visual components and a software.

It should be noted that online shop games are often associated with other offered services, i.e. game servers, platforms fostering communication among the players and etc. This only hinders the possibility to treat the video game as one separate object and master it as your own property.

Hence, individuals attempting to resell digital copies of video games are likely to face problems. Yet, they can still sell accounts under which they purchased the games. However, in this scenario separate video games can be sold only under service providers’ consent. Thus, persons wishing to resell the separate video games have to wait until the regulations are amended or the secondary video game market is legalised (as it happened in case of software licences).

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