I have three games, on Steam. Shadow of Mordor, Risen 3 and Lords of the Fallen. I have downloaded and played Risen 3 and Lords of the Fallen. I have only downloaded Shadow of Mordor.

Can I sell them to my friends so they can play them on their computer? I am unsure if they can, considering I have downloaded them on to my computer, already. Is it possible to transfer the files onto their computer so they can play them?

  • 6
    For the most part, selling games that you download isn't legally allowed. I can't think of any platform that has yet to allow this. (The thing is, you don't actually "own" the games, you just have license to play them.)
    – DJ Pirtu
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 6:10
  • 1
    I think people are voting to close as "illegal or unreleased" because OP is asking to "sell" their Steam game. Steam has a player marketplace, at least, for Team Fortress 2. This could still be a valid question about if a player can trade their games in the same way.
    – user106385
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 8:34
  • @Timelord64 I was just about to write a comment to address this as well. The question at its core is effectively "Can I sell these downloaded games to my friends and transfer ownership to them?", to which the answer is "legally, no"... Yes, there is a component about transferring the files so the friends can play the game(s), but that is somewhat secondary and conditional to the "can I sell" question. Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 8:52
  • @DJPirtu definitely not "illegal". It might or might not violate the TOS, but even those are not "law", they are just some sort of contract that might or might not be valid. That being said, since he physically can't transfer the games from one Steam account to another one, this is a moot point…
    – o0'.
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 14:44
  • @Lohoris I belive this falls in to the copyright law, since the only way to do the "transfer" is to copy the game to another person, which would be a breack of not just the TOS of the service, but also copyright law. Even tough you would be a good citizen and delete your own copy at some point. Shared accounts and such, on the other hand, would just breach TOS, I think. (I'm no lawier. Do not take any of this as legal advice.)
    – DJ Pirtu
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 14:50

3 Answers 3


No, this is not something that you can really do. If you had bought the physical boxed copy, you might be able to sell that (although sometimes having CD-keys registered to an account makes ownership of the physical disks meaningless).

You are not generally able to transfer ownership of games purchased through digital distribution services like steam. Once you have effectively "claimed" the game by downloading it, the game is no longer transferable.

One thing you can do with Steam is register your friends as 'family', and then use Steam Family Sharing to share your games with them. There are some caveats, however. Your friends would only be able to play games from your library when your library is otherwise not in use. If you are playing a game, they can not play any games from your library.

  • What happens if I took the word "sell" out of it. I just want him to be able to play the game without him buying it again. I don't want the game anymore Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 7:04
  • @CurtisRyan Once you take the word "sell" out, you are still left with my second and third paragraphs; The license you bought to download and play a game through steam is non-transferable once the game is registered to your account. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 12:45
  • @CurtisRyan for better or for worse, this is the direction that games have moved in over the past decade. On PC especially, with digital distribution platforms like steam (Origin, etc), it is increasingly rare that you actually have any 'ownership' of the games you buy. Everything is tied to an account, and the account is granted a license to play the game. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 12:53

You cannot transfer the games, but under some conditions you can ask for a refund.

Then what you do with the refunded money is up to you.

  • I can't ask for a refund in the gaming stores in Australia because they said they don't know if the game has been played before. So I can't sell them there. And even if I try to sell them on eBay I'm not sure if they will be able to download the game from the disks because I have already downloaded it onto another computer (my computer) Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 7:05
  • @CurtisRyan of course you can't sell them, as it has already explained, once they are bound to an account they are bound. It's really strange what you say: what does it mean they don't know if they have already been played? They really said such nonsense? There's a "played hours" tracked for every game, publicly accessible, so I'm quite sceptic that Valve support told you such a thing.
    – o0'.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:20
  • Sorry I did hear it from them. I just want to know how I can get a game to someone else without them having to pay for it again. Can I transfer files or something? Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 9:59
  • @CurtisRyan no, you can't, sorry.
    – o0'.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 10:28

As Lohoris said, if you haven't yet played the game, or only played the game for a short while, and have bought the game on steam directly, you can ask for a refund. There are rules stating the refund will normally be granted if you have less than 2 hours of play time and you ask them less than 14 days after purchase, but it doesn't hurt to ask them for a refund even if the conditions are not satisfied - they might still say yes, especially if you never played the game and the price hasn't dropped significantly.

In practice you can also use a floating account - give the account data to your friends so they can log in with your account. But if you do use a floating account, things get inconvenient very soon, since a single account cannot be online and play games on different computers at the same time. So irrespective of the legality, this is very inconvenient and should only really be considered if you have an account that would otherwise be abandoned.

The third option is that you can buy most steam games as gifts. This would have been an option in the case of Shadow of Mordor, although it's too late now. If you buy a game as a gift, it needs to be activated before it can be installed. As long as the gift hasn't been activated you can pass it on to a friend, who can then pass it on to someone else, who can again pass it on to someone else - but the gift can only be activated once, only the one who activated it can play it, and it can't be passed on again after activating it.

  • I have bought three games, downloaded them all and played only two of them. But I haven't bought them directly off steam I have got the disks from the store. And no I can't sell them there because they said they don't know if they have been played or not Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 7:07
  • @Curtis Physical disks with steam keys are similar to steam gifts. If you downloaded them, their keys have been activated and cannot be used by another account. The disks are worthless now except as collector's item, so the store is right to not accept them. Refund isn't an option because you didn't buy from steam. Your only options are to grant your friends access to your account, or to accept that you bought and activated games that cannot be resold after activation.
    – Peter
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:17
  • @CurtisRyan Unless you collect the boxes, always buy online - steam offers refunds, often has much cheaper prices than physical stores, and you get to play the game a few minutes after you bought it. If you buy steam keys online from steam key resellers, they'll be even cheaper, but you won't get refunds and you might get cheated before you figure out which sites are reliable and which sites are scams. And of course you can buy games on GoG.com which uses a honor code instead of activation keys, so you are able to pass on games to your friends, but it's outright illegal to do so.
    – Peter
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:21

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