This is, I think, a very poor and narrow attitude. Used goods, particularly media, protect the consumer. But interestingly, I believe they also do service to the makers of media.
Essentially, people need to have recourse with regards to their ownership of things. Being able to resell, old, unused, and items that have come to be useless provides us with a recourse. The opportunity to flush ourselves of belongings, to not have any assignation of those items to ourselves, virtual or non-, affords us the opportunity to start anew. This may seem purely symbolic, and it is, but the idea that those symbols have no value is ridiculous. We assign value to those actions, and in most cases we share a similar sense of their value. It can be cathartic in an important way to get rid of old things. God forbid someone were to give up on gaming entirely. If someone for some reason needed to abandon gaming for a period, then it serves those who distribute games to make it possible for people to go dispense with those goods.
As well, recreational items serve a value to people other than the value of it's use. Which is the value it has at resale. People are often faced with difficult financial circumstances. This happens to many many people. The ability to turn previously used recreational items into capital is actually partially important. When disaster strikes, and one is on the verge of being impoverished, being able to part with non-essential property is critical. (Think about a “Fire sale”) Imagine bankruptcy, having once had a lucrative job or similarly balmy circumstances. And being left with a steam account full of games that you don't need. There are resources expended on these “use licenses” that given the way Steam works are permanently inaccessible. And I've seen some really full steam accounts.
I can't imagine the kind of sick irony of becoming homeless (I spent a period as a homeless person) and having a steam account worth hundreds of dollars tied up because of the terms of service of Steam. There is always an illicit sale of the thing, but having no recourse says a thing about Valve's reconnoiter of real-world human circumstances. Let's say I had I a steam account worth $300.00 while homeless, the pressing real-world needs of food, shelter, and clothing would have trumped a likely unenforced law about a virtual goods resale. Valve, would have “forced” me to violate an agreement that may allow them to seek damages. Believe me when I say the need to eat will trump those agreements in the real world, and should. It is an understanding of humanistic circumstances that would allow Valve to understand these potential circumstances, and the real importance of letting people out of these kinds of agreements.
No less, I think one should always have a route out of civil agreements. Like a divorce allows you legal freedom from a spouse, the symbolism of which is literally important to people, and is also legally important, being able to free yourself from non-criminal legal agreements seems to me to be critical to an American concept of liberty. (That sentence may strike some of you as laughable, but I do, in all seriousness mean that) I really don't think you should be legally bound to anything non-criminal, that you cannot extricate yourself from. My sense of law is limited, and I can imagine exceptions to this, but without compelling contrary commentary, I think we should always have routes out of civil agreements. (There are a bevy of caveats to this that I can think of, but in general)
And interestingly, I think allowing the resale of games actually serves those who make games. This runs contrary to conventional wisdom at the moment, but let me see if I can make this idea compelling to you. The ability to acquire used goods, virtual or non-, gives us an avenue toward enthusiasm that may not exist otherwise. To young people particularly, used goods have an incredible worth. Without the ability to buy used books and music while young, well, let's just say, my life would have been significantly more empty. Two of my greatest passions in life would go utterly unindulged, and my education would have suffered.
Making this stuff available to people while poorer makes for enthusiasts. People who's passions revolve around gaming may not happen if they have no access. Here, I think steam has a better reconnoiter of these kinds of circumstances than those who oppose the resale of physical media. If physical media were only available at new prices, they'd be prohibitively expensive to some at some times. Right now I can think of games I'd like to buy but cannot afford. Given the people of the U.S.' financial climate, someone who bought a game recently that I want but cannot afford makes for a great opportunity for us to do each other great turns.
Have you ever been to a used book store? Or music store that sold used items? These things, for me at least, growing up, were treasure troves as a child. And I think that the ability to acquire used games is no different for those with limited resources. The opportunity to acquire used games affords the poorer of us the opportunity to develop a relationship with whatever medium, that would otherwise be impossible. As a kid many of us don't have huge sums of money to play with. What we get from our allowance, or whatever sort of odd-job we can come up with can be all we get. In lean times the opportunities for industriousness, particularly for children, can be nil.
The core problem with Chris Avellone's statement, is that it does a disservice to the depth of human circumstances. It may not be something you're faced with right now, but it's not impossible either. I spent four years homeless, and grew up as a fairly comfortable middle class kid, and am genuinely intelligent. Circumstances of mankind are many and various, and terms-of-service that cause one to resort to illegality to dispense with (virtual) goods you effectively own is poor in it's thinking on human circumstances, people should have a way out.
Valve, I don't want to single you out. Your service is now like several to which these comments are equally applicable. I used it as an example of the most abstract of goods for which these arguments are applicable. I think they are identically applicable to physical media. I love steam, believe it or not, and I think it's largely a good service. I think it could be better, in some of the ways mentioned here, and others not pertinent to this topic, but I do think it is largely a good service.
LOOK WHO CAME: