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Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits

Valve announces an updated Steam Subscriber Agreement, becoming the latest company to attempt to avoid potential class action lawsuits by prohibiting them as a term of service. Here is their explanation of this:

We’re also introducing a new dispute resolution process that will benefit you and Valve. Recently, a number of companies have created similar provisions which have generated lots of discussion from customers and communities, and we’ve been following these discussions closely. On Steam, whenever a customer is unhappy with any transaction, our first goal is to resolve things as quickly as possible through the normal customer support process. However in those instances in which we can't resolve a dispute, we've outlined a new required process whereby we agree to use arbitration or small claims court to resolve the dispute. In the arbitration process, Valve will reimburse your costs of the arbitration for claims under a certain amount. Reimbursement by Valve is provided regardless of the arbitrator’s decision, provided that the arbitrator does not determine the claim to be frivolous or the costs unreasonable.

Most significant to the new dispute resolution terms is that customers may now only bring individual claims, not class action claims. We considered this change very carefully. It’s clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers. In far too many cases however, class actions don’t provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims. Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.

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152. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 3, 2012, 12:29 JohnnyRotten
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 19:03:
This does not circumvent criminal allegations. If Valve were to come in and kill your dog the state would still press charges.

Ahh, but what if Valve killed you? Could your dog still press charges? These types of questions keep me up at night...
 
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151. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 19:39 Dev
 
2nd_floor wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 18:52:
Why do we have the law in the first place if companies can do what Valve is doing.
Actually its a 100 year old law that says valve can do what its doing. See post 79.
 
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150. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 19:03 Beamer
 
2nd_floor wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 18:52:
If we can't take Valve to court over Steam, its fair to say they can't take us to court, haha.

The terms of service for my house, is that guests may not involve the police/law/courts in anything related in what happens in my house to them and their belongings.

Why do we have the law in the first place if companies can do what Valve is doing.

This does not circumvent criminal allegations. If Valve were to come in and kill your dog the state would still press charges.
 
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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149. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 18:52 2nd_floor
 
If we can't take Valve to court over Steam, its fair to say they can't take us to court, haha.

The terms of service for my house, is that guests may not involve the police/law/courts in anything related in what happens in my house to them and their belongings.

Why do we have the law in the first place if companies can do what Valve is doing.
 
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148. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 17:46 LurkerLito
 
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 15:20:
However, I find this whole "Agree to the new license or we forbid you to use Steam any longer" thing to be similar to highway fucking robbery, and I'm a bit dubious that the legal argument holds. If I ever had a lawsuit versus Steam, and Valve says "yeah, but you agreed to the new EULA", and I make the argument that I was forced to submit to the new agreement under duress, what happens?

Because isn't that what they are doing? What kind of fucking choice do you have when they say "you either accept this new agreement, or we STOP YOU FROM USING EVERY ONE OF THE 200+ GAMES YOU'VE BOUGHT WITH US?" That's not a choice. That's called being coerced into something.

Creston

I completely agree with this. I have like 400+ games on steam. There was no choice, I had to press "I Agree" even if I didn't. It was absolutely a coerced "signature" on the contract, no different than if they put a gun to my head and said press the button. Let see either I agree to the new terms or lose all the money I invested into steam over the years. Add to that several of the games require steam and don't have alternate versions for purchase anywhere, including some new ones which are preordered from other retailers that also require Steam. That's equivalent to a bank saying we changed our services, if you don't like it we will close your account and keep the money that is there. Choice? What choice?
 
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147. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 16:39 Prez
 
They don't really make many waves and when they do it tends to be either minor or very divisive stuff. Also ironically many of us got worked up about L4D2 and the media was right, it was great value and we were worried about nothing.

Personally I still think that, as good as L4D2 ended up being, it was still a bit of a slap in the face to L4D owners. It was a great value if you didn't buy the first - less so if you bought L4D at full price. I bought L4D2 at the "approved expansion pack price" of 20 bucks.
 
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146. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 14:23 JohnnyRotten
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 11:02:
So unless there's a new engine it's an expansion pack?
Was Grand Theft Auto San Andreas an expansion pack to Vice City, which was an expansion pack to GTA3?

I think this falls under the excluded middle fallacy. There can be a middle ground here.
 
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145. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 11:02 Beamer
 
Bhruic wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 10:42:
Beamer wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 09:58:
L4D2 felt absolutely like a new game to me. Playing 2 first, then going back to 1, was painful, as some of the features I'd become accustomed to weren't there.

Well, sure, and if I go back to playing original Sins of a Solar Empire without the DLC, it's painful as some of the features aren't there. Same with Civ IV without the addons. That doesn't mean they should have been new games.

L4D2 was effectively some new campaigns with a few new features. Fine and all, but a rip-off at full price (imo of course).

So unless there's a new engine it's an expansion pack?
Was Grand Theft Auto San Andreas an expansion pack to Vice City, which was an expansion pack to GTA3?
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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144. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 10:42 Bhruic
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 09:58:
L4D2 felt absolutely like a new game to me. Playing 2 first, then going back to 1, was painful, as some of the features I'd become accustomed to weren't there.

Well, sure, and if I go back to playing original Sins of a Solar Empire without the DLC, it's painful as some of the features aren't there. Same with Civ IV without the addons. That doesn't mean they should have been new games.

L4D2 was effectively some new campaigns with a few new features. Fine and all, but a rip-off at full price (imo of course).
 
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143. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 10:22 Dev
 
I'm still bitter about my pre-order bat being taken away when valve removed it spawning. Also those new characters aren't anywhere near as interesting as the old ones. I miss Francis hating everything but vests, and wanting to kill bill's beard if it turns.  
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142. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 10:03 Verno
 
Bhruic wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 09:45:
Well, I'd disagree fairly strongly. New characters are completely irrelevant, as your character doesn't matter in the game at all. But new game modes, new infected and new weapons (as well as more campaigns) were all what they promised they'd be delivering as DLC for the original L4D. Regardless of the "technical issues" that precluded that being done, making a new game with those features, and charging full price I still consider a pretty dick move.

I was touting the same opinions pre-release but after actually playing what they delivered I thought it was a fully fleshed out sequel in the right ways regardless of what was promised pre-release for L4D. Things change, every game can't be TF2 in terms of support though I wish that were the case. I made my peace with it and enjoyed L4D2.
 
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141. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 09:58 Beamer
 
L4D2 felt absolutely like a new game to me. Playing 2 first, then going back to 1, was painful, as some of the features I'd become accustomed to weren't there.  
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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140. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 09:45 Bhruic
 
Verno wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 09:32:
I was one of the people most vocal about the L4D2 release here but it was unfounded and I don't mind admitting I was totally off base. It had 4 original campaigns, new game modes, new characters, some new infected and weapons. The only thing I wanted in that didn't make it until afterward was the ability to play maps from the first game. I didn't get a paid DLC vibe at all and I consider it a bargain at $60 or $6.

Well, I'd disagree fairly strongly. New characters are completely irrelevant, as your character doesn't matter in the game at all. But new game modes, new infected and new weapons (as well as more campaigns) were all what they promised they'd be delivering as DLC for the original L4D. Regardless of the "technical issues" that precluded that being done, making a new game with those features, and charging full price I still consider a pretty dick move.

For me, the only reason I picked it up was because it went on sale cheaply. Had it remained in the $40-$60 range, I would have considered it a rip-off.
 
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139. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 09:32 Verno
 
Bhruic wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 09:05:
I wouldn't go that far. What Valve did right is very quickly have it go on sale. When you could pick it up a few months later for $5, it felt a lot less like a new game, and more like a paid DLC for the original.

I was one of the people most vocal about the L4D2 release here but it was unfounded and I don't mind admitting I was totally off base. It had 4 original campaigns, new game modes, new characters, some new infected and weapons. The only thing I wanted in that didn't make it until afterward was the ability to play maps from the first game. I didn't get a paid DLC vibe at all and I consider it a bargain at $60 or $6.
 
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138. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 09:20 Dev
 
Mr. Tact wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 07:54:
I don't know if you couldn't find comparison to my owning a book, or just didn't think or care to.

If you believe what you are saying, then can you explain why books couldn't, shouldn't, aren't marketed in the same way? (Let's ignore electronic books for the moment).
Because we got lucky.

No, seriously, thats why. Book makers controlled books that tightly in england for something like a couple hundred years (I believe other european countries were similar). No one could publish or reproduce any books without the Stationers permission. That monopoly made censorship easy. If we had been unlucky, that would have continued. In the 17th century, they didn't bribe the parliament enough so weren't able to renew their charter. Shortly thereafter, the limited term 21 year copyright came into being, and it was designed to encourage the spread of information and make it ok to copy stuff after that term expired, to encourage artistic expression and creativity and innovation. After that, copyright carried over to America, and is in the constitution, and as time passed and treaties passed, copyright spread amongst world powers, and other countries were pressured to accept.

Book publishers would LOVE to see that kinda control come back. They've tried to shut down international book trade (where you buy international versions of school text books and save a bunch of money). Some publishers let you "rent" school ebooks for some stupid terms, like 15% off the inflated hardback price but only giving you the ability to use it for 6 months. We are lucky that amazon got the ebook trade so popular without a crazy insane DRM scheme, since publishers have been trying to control ebooks with crazy DRM schemes in the past.

Publishers also screw over authors big time with ebooks. The biggest authors/writers association made concessions about ebooks to get concessions out of publishers regarding audits of royalties (all the "experts" told authors ebooks would never take off so they sold their members it was a meaningless concession) , so now almost all contracts of the big publishing houses totally screw authors on terms with ebooks. Authors get almost nothing despite them being almost pure profit, since the publishers apply the physical contract terms to ebooks, and almost none of them should apply. They get screwed in ebooks almost as bad as the average musicians get screwed by big music publishers. And despite that, publishers weren't satisfied with the $9.99 previously standard ebook price, got greedy and have universally tried to push that up. That got the attention of the DoJ which is currently investigating them for price collusion. Fortunately amazon is a good place for indies to flourish without those crazy contracts. In some ways they are similar to steam in helping indies flourish and vastly increase digital sales.

As a side note, the first publishers in USA preferred copying european books to publishing American authors since they figured across an ocean was far enough that they didn't have to pay royalties, so most of the earliest publishing was all pirated. Just like hollywood was started in the west coast because they wanted to get away from paying fees to the people who owned the patents in NYC, so they all ran as far across the country as they could get. Hollywood literally started out 100% because of illegally avoiding paying licensing fees. The location in LA was close enough to mexico that they could run for the border if edison agents came for a raid. Its ironic how they've changed.

Edit for some links if anyone cares to read further:
wiki MPPC link, starting place for hollywood
wiki stationers link, starting place about stationers
good analysis about amazon and ebooks
author blog about publishers
goodreads link about publishers

This comment was edited on Aug 2, 2012, 10:43.
 
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137. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 09:05 Bhruic
 
Verno wrote on Aug 2, 2012, 08:46:
Also ironically many of us got worked up about L4D2 and the media was right, it was great value and we were worried about nothing.

I wouldn't go that far. What Valve did right is very quickly have it go on sale. When you could pick it up a few months later for $5, it felt a lot less like a new game, and more like a paid DLC for the original.
 
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136. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 08:46 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 15:31:
It's a media thing too though, and a reaction thing. Yes RockPaperShotgun has a critical post today on this news but it's a million times softer than the one about EA. Yes people were pissy about Left 4 Dead 2 but most of the gaming media told them to shut up. PC Gamer even had an article on L4D2 where they told people to stop whining.

Eh I don't see it. There is usually just less Valve centric news to report. They don't really make many waves and when they do it tends to be either minor or very divisive stuff. Also ironically many of us got worked up about L4D2 and the media was right, it was great value and we were worried about nothing. If RPS as a PC centric site is a bit soft on a PC centric company then that's life, not a grand media conspiracy or something. The industry is still very console focused in general which is why Nintendo 3DS XL launch news trumps Valve disallows class action lawsuits on IGN or whatever. EA is getting to be a pretty widely hated brand on several platforms which explains their press woes.

I dunno, I just see the differences. Maybe I am making them up, but my education and career is all about noticing messages in advertising and public statements.

Given that Valve does little of either I don't really see it. This is the first truly negative thing they've done in a long time where I can criticize them and when you compare that against their track record they come out ahead (for now).

This comment was edited on Aug 2, 2012, 08:53.
 
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135. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 2, 2012, 07:54 Mr. Tact
 
Scheherazade wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 12:44:
Actually, you paid ONLY for the license.
The game's DVD and packaging were FREE.
The DVD is just a medium to convey the licensed game to you, and it is 100% irrelevant.

The license is commonly a single user permission to use the game.

So long as you have a license, how you get the game or how you store it is irrelevant.

You have a right of access to the program.
You have stated this position clearly. However, I stand by my comment. I find this position to be lacking common sense on it's face. I don't know if you couldn't find comparison to my owning a book, or just didn't think or care to.

If you believe what you are saying, then can you explain why books couldn't, shouldn't, aren't marketed in the same way? (Let's ignore electronic books for the moment). The way I see it, owning a DVD copy of "Doom 3" is no different than owning a copy of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." Yes, there are restrictions on my ownership. Such as I can't make copies and resell them without proper permissions. However, for the most part, for my own personal usage, I can do whatever the hell I want. And the manufacturer has no right reclaim my copy. It is MY copy.

The approach you are stating is to me, nonsensical. Maybe it's simply the verbiage I'm tripping over. Perhaps if instead of selling game software, they came out and called it a indeterminate length rental. Hmmm, yeah, I wouldn't like it -- but at least it wouldn't be a lie.
 
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134. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 19:27 Mashiki Amiketo
 
NKD wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 14:06:
So, aside from class actions which I think are pretty bullshit, how does everyone feel in general about terms of service changes when the company has hundreds or thousands of dollars of your digital licenses held at gunpoint?

Should they even be able to change it on you at that point?
Not legal here, so it really doesn't affect me at all. So really, it sucks for people that it does. Should they be able to though? Nope. It's a failure of law, because it hasn't caught up with technology.
 
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"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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133. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 16:29 deqer
 
Verno wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 14:52:

With companies underpinning more and more online functionality into the games I really worry about even the reliability of the "warez" backup method.
I'm fine with that too. If they want to go that far, then I will go just as far and simply ignore any new games that come out. They will lose 100% of my business, and I'm fine with that because that makes me happy knowing I can simply cut them off from my business. I got tons of old games and retro console games that I haven't even played yet, so, I'm good. Yup.
 
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