Apple looking at creating digital secondhand markets

Thursday, 7th March 2013 22:10 GMT By Phil Owen

This week, a patent was published by Apple containing ideas for how they could create a sort of secondhand market for digital items like games, movies, books, etc. by allowing users to loan out or even sell content they’ve purchased to other people.

It’s not a completely unprecedented concept. Green Man Gaming allows users to “trade in” some of the PC games they’ve bought from the site for game credit, for one, and Steam allows users to trade some in-game items. But this is Apple we’re talking about here. You know, a mega-corporation.

Use of such a system could be more dynamic than simply loaning and selling, as Apple Insider notes: “This may be useful in games that can only be played with or nearby the original owner or in an educational setting where students can only, for example, watch a movie in the presence of a school teacher (who may be the original owner).”

One concern I’d have about a thing like this is that it would drive up the cost of items in the App Store that come with this functionality. What do you guys think about the possibilities here?

Thanks, Eurogamer



  1. Telepathic.Geometry

    I think that this system is something that – at least in Europe – digital sales of games will be forced to do. I seem to recall that Valve got in trouble about this a while back, and were ordered to enable gamers to resell their games on to different people… Did I get that right?

    Also, I don’t think that it will drive up prices, as Apple will undoubtedly take a bite every time you resell your stuff, like Blizzard does with their auction house. Or some system like that…

    #1 2 years ago
  2. DSB

    @1 That ruling was really just the first shot in a long war. It doesn’t have any real implications, and there will have to be several more, large scale lawsuits to fully explore the issue.

    Legally, the fact that you’re not allowed to stop people from reselling software, including a used license, doesn’t mean that a service has to provide you with the ability to do so.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Telepathic.Geometry

    You’d hope though that one of them will step up to the plate and provide some kind of a service for it though, wouldn’t you? Like, if Valve do it – and I suppose that they’re the most likely to – others will be pressured to follow suit, Shirley!

    #3 2 years ago
  4. DSB

    @3 I think there’s a lot of problems with it.

    It’ll completely undermine the whole point of sales, for one. You don’t really have to care as a consumer, because you’ll still have cheap games to play, but the industry as a whole will take the loss.

    It will certainly mean that studios take a massive beating in the event of something like Simcity because not only will people not buy it, they’ll be unloading their copies like madmen.

    I’m not sure I’m comfortable giving publishers like EA or Activision a better reason to butcher their studios.

    #4 2 years ago

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