This survey has been published in:

Pillot J. (2010), « Dématérialisation des contenus et mesures techniques de protection: les industriels du jeu vidéo jouent-ils le jeu? », Revue Lamy Droit de l' Immatériel, 61(6), 57-63.

Pillot J. (2010), "Dematerialization and Digital Rights Management : Do the Video Game Industry Actors Play the Game?", Revue Lamy Droit de l' Immatériel, 61(6), 57-63.

Judgments & Legal References : none

Overview : Numeric convergence and digital « dematerialization » of content lead the video game industry to change and adaptation. As a main objective of this process, the preservation of incentives to innovate in this quickly growing sector seems to necessarily go through the strengthening of intellectual property protection.  However, methods presently used by games editors, which are very close of those already employed – in a very controversial way – by the music industry actors, do not appear neutral from the consumer point of view. Actually, in certain circumstances, the video game holder could see its right of use (flowing from the property right he owns) limited by the implementation of such DRM. Midway between the necessity of a new deal along the supply chain with the essential preservation of consumer satisfaction and welfare, I argue that an alternative pattern could be followed in order to promote competition process efficiency.

Main Results :

  • A quickly growing industry but subject to radical changes, especially due to the conjunction of “casual gaming”, huge increases in production costs and the “numeric convergence” phenomena.   
  • Distribution side of the industry traditionally owns the main part of the added value to the detriment of game creators and editors.  
  • “Dematerialization” and digital convergence seem likely to significantly alter the competition process (as well as rent sharing) in granting the upstream actors of the industry the capacity to directly serve the market.
  • Sound rises in the global consumption of dematerialized products tends to highlight new consumers habits.
  • Meanwhile, players experience some difficulties in using dematerialized contents, among others, interoperability issues due to DRM implementation, expected disappearance of the secondhand market, final product segmentation (through add-on and special features download) and, worse, potential incapacity to wholly enjoy their possession.
  • Competition for the rent rather than techno-push competition could ultimately lead to an economic turndown.
  • To avoid such situation, a sound thought on the legal definition of what is a video game appears inevitable in order to reintroduce the appropriate incentives into the industry.