Is the Half-Life 2 EULA
illegal? on the Inquirer
) describes possible legal issues
surrounding the End-User License Agreement for Half-Life 2 and the
service. Here are a couple of hefty
...The German Consumer Association has recently found that the
packaging on Half-Life 2 is misleading. In a report made following complaints
from the public, they said that the mere listing of an internet connection under
the 'other' category in system requirements did not accurately describe the true
extent of the internet tie-in with the game, and ordered Vivendi to amend the
packaging and untie Steam from HL2 or face a hefty fine. See
this page. How far other consumer associations will agree with the Germans
is yet to be seen, but it seems a no-brainer that Steam should be mentioned on
the retail pack.
The return of software has traditionally been a bugbear for gamers. Most shops,
at least in the UK, have a policy not to allow the return of opened software
because of piracy risks. However, most consumers are not aware that, in some
cases at least, this is in breach of their statutory legal rights, which cannot
This page at the UK's Office of Fair Trading conveniently notes an example
of when goods can be returned as faulty:...
It is quite conceivable that any gamer not being able to connect to Half-Life 2
is entitled to a legal refund in the UK. The case would hinge around whether or
not the inability to play the game without persistent net connection, or the
previous hacking of the CD Key rendering it unplayable, makes the game unfit for
the purpose described on the box. This could well be a winner.
The last issue is the most interesting and relates to a number of other cases
that have come up over the last couple of years. According to US and UK law,
under the principle known in the US as 'First Sale', a consumer buying a game
takes absolute title to it; that is, they own it. ...
But, arguably, you can't transfer the CD Key without paying the $10 Steam
charge, because otherwise it's still registered to you at Valve, meaning you
haven't truly transferred ownership to the buyer.
However, here's something else. No mention of the Steam software is made in the
EULA for Half-Life 2. This means that the terms of the Steam EULA that you agree
to when installing that software are almost certainly not incorporated into the
contract you agree to when installing Half-Life 2. Consequently, the $10
transfer fee would not be enforceable because it isn't in the HL2 contract, and
Valve would be acting illegally in blocking any sale of the game from one person