Us Europeans, we are a weird bunch. We are used to a certain degree of benevolent paternalism by our governmental authorities. That’s why we sometimes sign contracts and click past EULAs fully expecting the terms to have nothing unexpected in them. And if there is something unexpected, some authority is sure to fix that soon and restore world order.

That’s my current position towards the Steam platform. I know that in the process of signing up and buying games (or licenses or subscriptions or whatever they call it nowadays) I agreed to the Steam Terms and Services. But because those are stupid and I had no other choice anyway I fully expect the European Court of Justice to force Valve to open up their platform.

So, that out of the way, how could Steam change to meet with this kind of expectations?

Introducing the EU-compatible Steam client


So the future is here and Valve just sent me their new EU-compliant client.
Let’s try it out and sell one of our games!

A metaphor to work with: The digital game box


What do you do if you want to sell one of your games? You put in a box. A digital box for a digital game.


Some of you may remember cartridges that came with a built-in battery. That’s the general idea I had about the additional packaging options – Steam Cloud Data (e.g. Save Games), Achievements and DLC.

Maybe the game is worth more with my super-awesome Save Game included or maybe I just want to give the game to a friend for a few days but not loose my hard-earned Achievements in the process.


Nearly there. Our digital game box is now complete and sealed. The whole package  is reduced to an identifier, the transfer ticket code. That code is much like an ordinary Steam license key. Whoever has the code can activate it in Steam.

At this point the game is already out of the Game Library (sealed in the box with the label B8ej-UiiK-38J9-IIUY-e8e8-Z7Y4-MMje8-KKl8). If I change my mind I have to go to the Inventory and unseal the box, invalidating the transfer ticket.

To find a buyer, we use an existing trading platform, eBay for instance.


We complete the deal and send the buyer our transfer ticket code.


The buyer takes the transfer ticket code and enters it in the Steam Client, which activates the game and finishes the transfer. The Steam system permanently removes the game and all associated data from our Game Library. So be careful if you just want to give your game to a friend for a few days. Anything that is not in the box – gone.

That’s it! Want more?

Some people seem to cling to the idea that Valve should create a marketplace for used games or even enable you to trade in digital games for store credit at a fixed price, like GameSpot does it in some countries. I don’t think that is a good idea. You ask Valve to tell you how much a „used“ digital copy of a game is worth. Noone knows that, except for the eventual buyer.

What’s your opinion – am I out of my euro-mind or is this the right path?