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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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132. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 16:19 Prez
 
With companies underpinning more and more online functionality into the games I really worry about even the reliability of the "warez" backup method.

That's true I guess but I generally don't care about online functionality. Take Max Payne 3 for example - a warez copy will only have the singleplayer without the pointless multiplayer and the worse-than-useless Rockstar Social Club. That's an improvement in my book. For games like Left 4 Dead 2, yeah, it's an issue, but those types of games make up less than 1% of my Steam library.
 
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131. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 15:31 StingingVelvet
 
Verno wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 13:52:
The internet in general is pretty cynical, you're just missing the forest for the trees. For example when L4D2 was announced there were few cries how wonderful Valve was, it was a pretty negative reception. I don't see many people here loving this announcement up either. I see people bitching about the state of Steam all the time on here and other sites. In general though there just aren't as many negative issues involving Valve as there have been other companies and that's further offset by Valve's many positive contributions. Of course any product/brand has fanboys and haters but those people are not reachable in the first place.

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.

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.
 
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130. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 15:20 Creston
 
Verno wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 14:07:
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?

I think changes should only affect new licenses and that you shouldn't lose access to your existing library if you don't agree to the changes. I feel that way because I don't think my options should be "Accept new agreement" or "fuck off, lose access to all games". How I envision it is basically logging in, seeing a new subscriber agreement for Steam/whatever and making a decision. If I decide not to accept then I can use my existing version of Steam but I can't purchase new licenses. The whole thing is pretty murky though because you basically license the entire program. Of course that's way too fair for most corporations to abide by

This is how it SHOULD be, yes.

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
 
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129. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:52 Verno
 
Prez wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 14:34:
That's a fair question. In general I find it a pretty shady practice, though in Steam's case, it is a moot point really. The reason being if Valve were to suddenly lock me out of my account and rob me of access to the several thousand dollars worth of games I can just play the warez versions. It's a safety net that makes me less worried about purchasing and owning digital media.

With companies underpinning more and more online functionality into the games I really worry about even the reliability of the "warez" backup method. The distinction that you just license Steam and it grants you access to other licenses inside of it needs to be revisited in my opinion. I think its totally fair for Origin/Steam/whatever to tell me that I need to accept their agreement to purchase new titles or whatever but cutting off all access to your existing library seems not only unreasonable but on tenuous legal ground in many countries. It's only been an issue in very isolated events so far thankfully.
 
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128. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:34 Prez
 
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?

That's a fair question. In general I find it a pretty shady practice, though in Steam's case, it is a moot point really. The reason being if Valve were to suddenly lock me out of my account and rob me of access to the several thousand dollars worth of games I can just play the warez versions. It's a safety net that makes me less worried about purchasing and owning digital media.
 
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127. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:24 JohnnyRotten
 
I think the current benefit of class actions is to change the behavior of companies.

Without them, you are reduced to fighting the company one at a time, and even if enough people manage to win (and collect, which is no small matter) in small claims court, it only affects the current company, not all of the others up to the same dastardly deeds.
 
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126. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:10 NKD
 
Verno wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 14:07:
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?

I think changes should only affect new licenses and that you shouldn't lose your license if you don't agree to the changes. I feel that way because I don't think my options should be "Accept new agreement" or "fuck off, lose access to all games". Of course that's way too fair for most corporations to abide by

Yeah that seems pretty reasonable. I think they should have the right to hold you to new terms for new purchases. After all, shit happens, things change, or they may be compelled by law to change their terms of service. Can't expect the same language to hold up forever I guess.

But keeping you grandfathered into your old agreement for existing titles seems like a good idea.
 
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125. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:07 Verno
 
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?

I think changes should only affect new licenses and that you shouldn't lose access to your existing library if you don't agree to the changes. I feel that way because I don't think my options should be "Accept new agreement" or "fuck off, lose access to all games". How I envision it is basically logging in, seeing a new subscriber agreement for Steam/whatever and making a decision. If I decide not to accept then I can use my existing version of Steam but I can't purchase new licenses. The whole thing is pretty murky though because you basically license the entire program. Of course that's way too fair for most corporations to abide by

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2012, 14:16.
 
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124. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:06 NKD
 
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?
 
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123. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 14:02 eunichron
 
Verno wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 12:54:
On Kotaku today I read a comment about this story where someone said "I just... trust Valve more." That's the personification of the idea I dislike... Valve should not be trusted more than any other company out to get your money. Appreciated? Sure. Trusted? No. As today's news should hopefully make clear, they will screw you as soon as they think they can and should, and do it with a snarky smile.

If you have to qualify everything with "I like Steam" you're really sending the opposite signal IMO but that's besides the point. No company should technically be trusted but people are human beings and that kind of emotional response is understandable. People shouldn't just ignore the history of a company, whether its positive or negative as that information is important to a consumer. You also ignore reality, people "trust" Valve because they built that relationship with the customer through goodwill and community positive decisions. It's a self-correcting market, if Valve makes a series of anti-consumer decisions then the community opinion will shift accordingly. The PC industry is especially fickle and people don't love Steam so much that they will ignore problems that affect their consumer experience.

I'm not sure how other people "feel" about Valve really affects you, especially since the results are the same regardless. Some people might not get as worked up as you over something like this because it ultimately doesn't affect them, that's life. Charging into every Valve topic with "HURRR SEE VALVE IS DA BADDIE I TOLD U SO!" just automatically puts people on the defensive and actually furthers them from seeing the issue. Valve earned their status with consumers. They built a relationship with the customer, that is a pretty basic thing in many successful businesses and something that many other gaming companies have utterly failed at. If they destroy that through a series of poor decisions then that will be earned too but until then you should stop acting like they did a dog and pony show to trick millions of people into liking them because no one will take that seriously.

Exactly, but it's a struggle these days. I'm guilty of it myself. I don't approve of what these companies are doing one bit, I still have Facebook because it makes it simple and easy to keep in touch with old friends that I no longer live near. I own a Galaxy Nexus made by Samsung, sponsored by Google, running stock Android 4.0. that I pay Verizon $80 a month for. I still use both Steam and Origin. I own an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and play on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. I don't like a lot of their business practices, but you know what, Facebook, Google, Valve, Microsoft, Sony, and EA haven't done anything that hurts me personally yet, so I trust them and continue using their products on a daily basis.

I'm such a fucking hypocrite and I hate myself.
 
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122. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 13:52 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 13:34:

I know. I guess it just stands out because game sites are usually so cynical. Of course perhaps that is one reason people latch on to the few companies that seem better than the rest

The internet in general is pretty cynical, you're just missing the forest for the trees. For example when L4D2 was announced there were few cries how wonderful Valve was, it was a pretty negative reception. I don't see many people here loving this announcement up either. I see people bitching about the state of Steam all the time on here and other sites. In general though there just aren't as many negative issues involving Valve as there have been other companies and that's further offset by Valve's many positive contributions. Of course any product/brand has fanboys and haters but those people are not reachable in the first place.
 
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121. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 13:34 StingingVelvet
 
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 13:14:
What amazes me is that it bugs you so much. There are people who swear up and down by a particular news channel, too. And there are even actual EA fanboys! I know, it seems impossible, but there are genuinely people out there who say that Origin is literally the best thing to have happened to PC gamers, like, EVER.

The large majority of 'people' on the Internet are morons.

I know. I guess it just stands out because game sites are usually so cynical. Of course perhaps that is one reason people latch on to the few companies that seem better than the rest.

Anyway I also maintain it seems disproportionate on Blues because I tend to come here for a certain kind of debate. I outright mock and make light of most of the "OMG STEAM SUCKS" threads on GOG, until this one.
 
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120. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 13:15 Creston
 
El Pit wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 12:46:
Gabe N.: "Damn, we must get rid of possible class action lawsuits. Okay, let's play it like this: first, we give the customers the summer sale, and after they fall in love in with us, we give them new ToS. Yes, that's it. Let's do it!"

This is 100% the truth, and this is probably on page 2 in the "PR Done Right 101" handbook.

Creston
 
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119. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 13:14 Creston
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 12:46:
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 12:36:
Everyone knows that with EA, it is. All EA cares about is the bottom line. Valve, I'm not so sure. I think they started Steam because they wanted to get out from a publisher's bootheel, but for a long time, everything they've done to Steam has been to solely boost profits. It's really only the last few years that they've begun listening to their customers and have implemented some things that benefit the customers. (Better support, faster patches, more sales, etc.)

I don't have a problem with Valve, I really don't. Just today I got Max Payne 3 as a Steam code because it's so large I don't want to back it up, and Steam is the store I don't use backups with because I trust it to be there and work. I like Valve's games and the service, if there has to be DRM then Steamworks generally is the best kind.

My entire "issue" I guess is with the people who act like Valve can do no wrong, or are special in some way, removed from things like this terms of service shit. They might be more persuasive and more generous than other companies but they are still out to protect themselves and get your money, period.

On Kotaku today I read a comment about this story where someone said "I just... trust Valve more." That's the personification of the idea I dislike... Valve should not be trusted more than any other company out to get your money. Appreciated? Sure. Trusted? No. As today's news should hopefully make clear, they will screw you as soon as they think they can and should, and do it with a snarky smile.

What amazes me is that it bugs you so much. There are people who swear up and down by a particular news channel, too. And there are even actual EA fanboys! I know, it seems impossible, but there are genuinely people out there who say that Origin is literally the best thing to have happened to PC gamers, like, EVER.

The large majority of 'people' on the Internet are morons.

I like Valve, and I hate EA, but so far I have to say that Origin typically works better on any given day for me than Steam does. That doesn't somehow translate into me liking EA better than I do Valve, though, and that's mostly because Valve allows me to buy games I kind of do really want to play, but not for 50 or 60 bucks, for 7.50 or 5 bucks.

Not everyone's like that. Eh. *shrug* If some people want to worship the sweat under Gabe's armpits, no shirt off my back. Some people still think Will Wright is a genius too...

Creston
 
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118. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 12:54 Verno
 
On Kotaku today I read a comment about this story where someone said "I just... trust Valve more." That's the personification of the idea I dislike... Valve should not be trusted more than any other company out to get your money. Appreciated? Sure. Trusted? No. As today's news should hopefully make clear, they will screw you as soon as they think they can and should, and do it with a snarky smile.

If you have to qualify everything with "I like Steam" you're really sending the opposite signal IMO but that's besides the point. No company should technically be trusted but people are human beings and that kind of emotional response is understandable. People shouldn't just ignore the history of a company, whether its positive or negative as that information is important to a consumer. You also ignore reality, people "trust" Valve because they built that relationship with the customer through goodwill and community positive decisions. It's a self-correcting market, if Valve makes a series of anti-consumer decisions then the community opinion will shift accordingly. The PC industry is especially fickle and people don't love Steam so much that they will ignore problems that affect their consumer experience.

I'm not sure how other people "feel" about Valve really affects you, especially since the results are the same regardless. Some people might not get as worked up as you over something like this because it ultimately doesn't affect them, that's life. Charging into every Valve topic with "HURRR SEE VALVE IS DA BADDIE I TOLD U SO!" just automatically puts people on the defensive and actually furthers them from seeing the issue. Valve earned their status with consumers. They built a relationship with the customer, that is a pretty basic thing in many successful businesses and something that many other gaming companies have utterly failed at. If they destroy that through a series of poor decisions then that will be earned too but until then you should stop acting like they did a dog and pony show to trick millions of people into liking them because no one will take that seriously.

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2012, 13:07.
 
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117. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 12:46 El Pit
 
Gabe N.: "Damn, we must get rid of possible class action lawsuits. Okay, let's play it like this: first, we give the customers the summer sale, and after they fall in love in with us, we give them new ToS. Yes, that's it. Let's do it!"  
Consoles? I owned two: a Pong clone and an Atari 2600. And that's it.
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116. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 12:46 StingingVelvet
 
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 12:36:
Everyone knows that with EA, it is. All EA cares about is the bottom line. Valve, I'm not so sure. I think they started Steam because they wanted to get out from a publisher's bootheel, but for a long time, everything they've done to Steam has been to solely boost profits. It's really only the last few years that they've begun listening to their customers and have implemented some things that benefit the customers. (Better support, faster patches, more sales, etc.)

I don't have a problem with Valve, I really don't. Just today I got Max Payne 3 as a Steam code because it's so large I don't want to back it up, and Steam is the store I don't use backups with because I trust it to be there and work. I like Valve's games and the service, if there has to be DRM then Steamworks generally is the best kind.

My entire "issue" I guess is with the people who act like Valve can do no wrong, or are special in some way, removed from things like this terms of service shit. They might be more persuasive and more generous than other companies but they are still out to protect themselves and get your money, period.

On Kotaku today I read a comment about this story where someone said "I just... trust Valve more." That's the personification of the idea I dislike... Valve should not be trusted more than any other company out to get your money. Appreciated? Sure. Trusted? No. As today's news should hopefully make clear, they will screw you as soon as they think they can and should, and do it with a snarky smile.
 
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115. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 12:44 Scheherazade
 
Mr. Tact wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 11:01:
nin wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:33:
You own a license. One that can be revoked at any time.
I do not understand this position. It is a stupid lawyer/corporate position. It has no place in common sense. It's like saying I can't own a book. That at any time the author can take the book back from me. Or are you claiming that owning a digital copy of a game on Steam is fundamentally different than owning a physical DVD with the game on it at my house?

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.

It's the difference between buying a product (eg. a music CD, where 'the physical item' is what you're paying for), or buying a license (eg. software, where 'permission to use' is what you are paying for).

This actually gets to some legally contentious ground, as publishers would like to enforce both copyright and license agreement, for stronger control over software - both the data, and the disk it's on. But so long as they are selling only licenses, then they don't have control over the disk.
But soon as they start selling the disk to you, then they can claim copyright if you copy it, but then they also have to pay different tax rates - which they want to avoid.

Some years ago, it wasn't uncommon to call the publisher and get replacement disks.
I suspect that nowadays they don't want to bother...

In any case, steam is a method to convey the software, just like a game DVD purchased from a brick&mortar.
For all intents and purposes, they serve the same purpose, and are the same. Simply a medium.

Albeit steam has built in DRM, which is a separate issue.




But getting to the class action stuff...
I personally dislike class actions.

Because :
If there is a class action lawsuit about X, then you are personally precluded from suing about X.

The theory is that the class action represented you already, and so you can't sue twice.

A) It's insulting and presumptuous for a 3rd party to think that they can speak in my name without my permission.
B) If you were to sue individually, you'd get a lot more in damages. The class action really just blocks you from being able to sue as an individual.

If you happen to know about the class action, you can write a letter asking to be excluded from it. Then you can preserve your right to sue as an individual.
But if you don't know about it, and you go to sue later, you find that your hands are tied.

-scheherazade

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2012, 12:50.
 
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114. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 12:40 Creston
 
eunichron wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 00:23:
Actually, no. This is exactly what EA's EULA says;

By entering into this Agreement, you and EA expressly waive the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action.

Interesting. It says EA can't sue YOU either. So if you're an employee at EA with access to interesting stuff, sign up for Origin, agree to the EULA, then steal said interesting stuff and sell it. EA just said they can't sue you in a trial by jury?

Creston

 
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113. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 12:36 Creston
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 23:34:
In the end though I honestly think it's mostly rooted in Valve doing amazing, excellent and awe-inspiring PR.

I think 99% of all goodwill towards Valve comes from Steam sales. especially since EA flat-out said "Yeah, we're not doing that because it *snickers* cheapens IP."

Btw, it's actually possible to be a company that care about more than just profit, and still like profit, you know? Profit is what keeps your company afloat (unless you're EA, apparently. They can tell the IRS they lose money every single year and nobody apparently ever starts to question this,) and so you do kind of need it in order to stay in business. But at the same time, you can be the kind of company where MORE PROFIT MORE PROFIT MORE PROFIT is not 100% of your Modus Operandi.

Everyone knows that with EA, it is. All EA cares about is the bottom line. Valve, I'm not so sure. I think they started Steam because they wanted to get out from a publisher's bootheel, but for a long time, everything they've done to Steam has been to solely boost profits. It's really only the last few years that they've begun listening to their customers and have implemented some things that benefit the customers. (Better support, faster patches, more sales, etc.)

Creston

 
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