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Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games

An interview on The PA Report talks with Valve's Gabe Newell, discussing some general topics with Valve's Managing Director, whose beard is growing in nicely (though not to the magnificent degree mine has at this point). The discussion covers things like his work schedule, his fascination with wearable computers, the possibility Valve might someday sell hardware, pricing games on Steamand more (thanks nin). He also offers responses to questions about to what degree customers won games purchased on Steam:

But even from kind of a more general point of view, you have services like Steam or Origin where these many purchases and micro-transactions and all these transactions weíre making through multiple companies are kind of tied to this overreaching account. Do you have lawyers who kind of look at the legal implication of where exactly you fit into that relationship?

Yeah, we have lawyers who look at stuff all the time, Iím not sure Iím answering your question directly. Itís sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesnít really matter a whole lot what the legal issues are, the real thing is that you have to make your customers happy at the end of the day and if youíre not doing that it doesnít really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If youíre not making your customers happy youíre doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy. And I think we have a track record of having done that.

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54. Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Feb 20, 2012, 17:54 WaltC
 
Tumbler wrote on Feb 20, 2012, 13:29:
Well valve certainly owns my steam games. There is no question that my access to the game I've paid for on steam are not mine at all but belong to Valve and Steam. I have no ability to sell my steam library so I do not own them in any real sense. This is why I pay very little for most of my steam games. Regardless how much the game is worth the value I get from playing it through steam is on par with rental prices which to me are around $5.

Arghghghghgghhhh.....! Please--not another "Life is unfair and that's why I pirate my games instead of pay for them" ridiculous point of view. You'll get no sympathy from me. As well, what on earth makes you think "renting" is cheap?

Reviewing a couple of things...when you rent a game somewhere you have to take it back after the rental period is up. (If you don't, your credit card is billed for the cost of a new copy of the software, or charged the daily rental rate until you return it, along with any late fees due.) Last time I looked there were no time limits controlling my use of my Steam Library games. By that property alone we can deduce that Steam ownership does not equate to game rentals. Another fundamental difference is the fact that if you rent and want to play game X again you must pay the rental fee *every time you decide to play the game again.* Steam ownership has no such recurring costs. Indeed, apart from paying for your Steam software, there are no other expenses to bear.

I could continue onward--but just those differences above are dramatic enough and fundamental enough to convince even the most ardent skeptic that renting does not equal Steam ownership--Steam is much better and much cheaper...;)

There have been odd little comments about passing these accounts on to your children, like when you pass your stuff on to your children...what happens to these accounts?

Pretty much what you as the owner decide will happen. If you give your account user name and password to your children, or your wife, or *anybody,* then I expect they will continue to use those accounts in perpetuity. What would be stopping them?

Just understand what you're paying for. It's a rental. You're renting stuff from steam. It might be a very generous rental in your opinion but you have no rights. (at least nothing that has been upheld by the courts)

Steam is not even close to being a rental service. Stop embarrassing yourself...;) When you rent you pay continuously as long as you rent--whether by the day, the week, the month, etc. When you purchase you pay for something once, generally, and once only, correct? As to "rights"--why as long as Valve exists (and quite possibly longer) I can open my Steam account--the use of which is free in perpetuity--and play the games I have purchased, without charge or without constraint as often as I would like. Indeed, anyone to whom I give my Steam account user name and password can do the very same thing. Such unfettered, free access is a property of ownership, not a rental--in which case you genuinely do not own the software and so must pay for your time with it each and every time you access it. Renting can easily be far more expensive than Steam ownership.

Several games in my Steam Library do not require an Internet connection to play--Skyrim 1.4.x.x is just one of them--Steam itself need not be even running for those games. Other games, however, like Witcher2 v2.1 require an Internet connection or they are not playable at all. Since there are so many differences in how this is determined in Steam games, it seem that whether or not to use Steam as a sort of "DRM" from which you always must have an Internet connection to successfully launch a game is not decided by Valve but rather by individual game publishers--thus your situation with Valve is no different than having bought directly from each Steam game's publisher/developer.

I think the courts should rule in the favor of consumers in these cases and force all these companies to allow these licenses to be retitled and transferred. Possibly at a cost to the consumer but there is no reason the consumers should not be granted ownership of these titles the way they are being marketed. The terms purchase, buy, and such which they freely use at the point of purchase should not be allowed if these companies are renting these titles. The reality that this is a rental is buried inside those eula's which is done deliberately because consumers are smart enough to know that you should be paying less for "rentals" than you do for ownership.

Your rental analogy is completely wet and falls completely apart, as demonstrated above. It's a very weak defense of piracy, if that is what you are doing and if that is what you are using the word "rental" for. Compared to Steam software ownership, software rentals would be inordinately, immeasurably more expensive and far more restrictive.

There are in fact long lists of things that we as people buy regularly--things which we "own"--but which are used up very quickly to the point that we must always buy new things to replace them:

Paper
pencils
printer cartridges
gasoline
electricity
toilet paper, etc., ad infinitum

...I mean, the list of such "owned" things is nigh inexhaustible--yet Steam software ownership accords one far more "rights" than the purchase of any of these kinds of goods. So please stop pretending that there's only one way to "buy" things and only one way to "own" things, because it isn't close to being true. If you cannot see that Steam isn't a rental service you need new glasses...;)

 
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It is well known that I do not make mistakes--so if you should happen across a mistake in anything I have written, be assured that I did not write it!
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  1. Feb 20, 10:36 Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games nin
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  63. Feb 20, 18:42     Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games eunichron
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>> 54. Feb 20, 17:54  Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games WaltC
  55. Feb 20, 18:21   Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Jivaro
  57. Feb 20, 18:25    Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games WaltC
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  98. Feb 21, 15:33 Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games avianflu
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  100. Feb 21, 16:43  Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games nin
  101. Feb 21, 16:44   Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Beamer
  102. Feb 21, 18:10    Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Prez
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  107. Feb 22, 00:54   Re: Gabe Newell on Valve Hardware and Owning Steam Games Sepharo
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