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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 Replies. 8 pages. Viewing page 3.
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112. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:37 Beamer
 
Dev wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 11:29:
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 11:27:
Also, I'm quite curious as to the level of legality concerning this decision. I would have to agree to this new provision in order to buy new games, but what about my old games? Can they legally say after I've bought 200 games that I can now no longer sue them in a class action lawsuit for any some such reason?
Yes, its a license agreement that's updated (that part that says they can change it at any time) and a supreme court decision says they can stop class actions. See post 79.

Yes, they say they CAN, not that they DO. Important distinction people seem to miss when they jump out windows.

Also, there are times in which this will benefit consumers. Take the accidentally-stealing-$10 case. If a consumer goes after Valve directly via arbitration they will get that $10 back. If a class action lawsuit comes up instead the consumer will be unable to go after Valve directly and would likely end up getting 10% off their next purchase instead. So, in cases like that, it's indeed better for consumers. However, it requires the consumer to do something very specific that few would bother doing (heck, even with class actions consumers rarely bother going to a website and filling out their info for that 10% coupon...)
 
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111. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:36 HorrorScope
 
1. Yes as middle/lower class civilians. We always need to protect our rights. Ultimately it is what is the difference between protection and slavery to use the extreme. Don't for a second think the slavery gene has been removed from our DNA. If you allow it, someone will.

2. If they have to do it, it means someone actually has confronted them with a class action. Which we all sort of laugh at when angry poster says "I'm going to sue". We laugh it off, like right and all that. Well someone must be following through.

3. I do get some of Valve's points but again to agree with them you have to give up some things that I'm not sure we should ever give up. These are protections.

4. Yes Steam is expensive in foreign lands and to those that said they hold a monopoly they aren't even close. There are at least 10 competitors. If you decided to only use Steam you are monopolizing that decision for yourself. I have digital games from a lot of places. If they are the biggest, well someone has to be.

5. When I read this particular change, I can't help but think applying such DUH wording to so many things in life. As if a genius came down from heaven and said, "Well if you don't like it, just put whatever down on words and have them sign it. Then it's official.". The phrase they must say the moment after they are complete is "We should have done this years ago". It's like they can just wave a magic wand over such complex problems and presto chango, problem be gone. We do live in Fantasyland!
 
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110. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:31 Verno
 
Phasenoise wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:59:
Except that in this case, they *were* reachable, and they *were* replacing 360s en masse. There aren't clear grounds for a class action at all. Sure, the PR flacks implied it could be ventilation issues and all sorts of things outside the console. But on the support end they were just replacing them no questions asked.

Sure, they were replacing them but I'm not sure that weighs on class action or their actions regarding the design faults. The fact that they were doing what they were supposed doesn't negate the need or validity of a class action, particularly when a manufacturing company publicly denies design faults in a product they sold to millions of people. Nvidia has been replacing defective hardware for over a decade but still has lost several class actions. There was no talk of extending warranties before people started making websites to collect parties for class action suits. I guess you can call it a coincidence but it's a bit of a reach for me as that's when the denial PR and vague threats to media outlets for popularizing the story all ended too.

This comment was edited on Aug 1, 2012, 11:36.
 
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109. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:29 Dev
 
Creston wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 11:27:
Also, I'm quite curious as to the level of legality concerning this decision. I would have to agree to this new provision in order to buy new games, but what about my old games? Can they legally say after I've bought 200 games that I can now no longer sue them in a class action lawsuit for any some such reason?
Yes, its a license agreement that's updated (that part that says they can change it at any time) and a supreme court decision says they can stop class actions. See post 79.
 
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108. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:28 Dev
 
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?
I'm claiming they are exactly the same, and both have exactly the same license with exactly the same rights (to avoid confusion unrelated to the issue, one can assume its a steamworks game). Its the world we live in.
 
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107. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:27 Creston
 
"We’re also introducing a new dispute resolution process that will benefit you and Valve"

I'm sorry, Valve, but this makes you just as big a scumbag as Sony and EA and all the others.

Also, I'm quite curious as to the level of legality concerning this decision. I would have to agree to this new provision in order to buy new games, but what about my old games? Can they legally say after I've bought 200 games that I can now no longer sue them in a class action lawsuit for any some such reason?

I'm appreciative that they say they will pay for the small claims court fees no matter the decision, but it's still trying to renege on a person's fucking RIGHTS.

Fucking game industry. You get more and more disgusting every single day. Keep working at it, boys, and soon you'll even bypass the RIAA.

Creston
 
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106. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:10 Beamer
 
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?

Do you have a Kindle? Then you own a license to those books. iTunes? You don't own those songs or movies(and heck, with Spotify/Hulu/Netflix you have even fewer rights.)

This is what happens when you buy 0s and 1s instead of physical, degradable items.
 
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105. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:09 deqer
 
Dev wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:56:
deqer wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:49:
My steam account started when Steam first came out after I purchased Half-life bundle pack from a physical store and I attached the games to Steam.
That still means nothing. Even back then physical games had license agreements.
That's still not the way I see it. Sorry.

If this stuff begins to effect me, then I will simply walk away and start advocating piracy. It's that simple. Common sense.
 
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104. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 11:01 Mr. Tact
 
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?
 
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103. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:59 Phasenoise
 
Verno wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:09:
It wasn't until public pressure started to mount and several campaigns started to collect parties for a class action that they suddenly had a change of heart. For right or wrong, the public tends to use class actions to hold companies accountable for their actions when they are otherwise unreachable.

Except that in this case, they *were* reachable, and they *were* replacing 360s en masse. There aren't clear grounds for a class action at all. Sure, the PR flacks implied it could be ventilation issues and all sorts of things outside the console. But on the support end they were just replacing them no questions asked.

I personally had three (3!) replaced. Manufacturing problems? Oh yeah. But also easily remedied. You call them, they send a box and you send it back. Shortly after, you get a new one.

They are already quite punished by the cost of replacing all these units. This is a HUGE incentive to fix their manufacturing. A class action suit doesn't add a thing.
But this is a specific case of course and I don't want to lead the discussion to MS instead of valve.

In general, I think class actions do need to be there. But in isolated cases binding arbitration makes more sense. Game sales strike me as such a situation, so I honestly don't have an issue with Steam having this clause. I don't want in a class action suit for which i would never receive any actual remedy. That only benefits parties other than me.
I'm much more likely to receive a remedy in arbitration. It would be limited to the cost of the game and not a windfall which is why some are opposed to it (lawyers, notably). But realistically to me, this is a realistic solution.
 
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102. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:56 Dev
 
deqer wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:49:
My steam account started when Steam first came out after I purchased Half-life bundle pack from a physical store and I attached the games to Steam.
That still means nothing. Even back then physical games had license agreements.
 
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101. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:53 nin
 
If Steam thinks that I don't truly own these games, then back to piracy I will go. No problem.


EULAs will tell you you own a license. Go read them.

I guess you better stop using steam. It's a sad day in deqerville.

 
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100. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:49 deqer
 
nin wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:33:
Same here. EULAs used to contain common-sense stuff, and now these days they contain ridiculous stuff. Either way, I will not read it. I only clicked "I Agree", because I wanted to play the 100 games that I own.

Wait wait wait...you're all "fight da power!" when it comes to blizzard being online, but you use steam?


I purchased/own these games.

You own a license. One that can be revoked at any time.




Nope, that's not the way I see it. My steam account started when Steam first came out after I purchased Half-life bundle pack from a physical store and I attached the games to Steam.

If Steam thinks that I don't truly own these games, then back to piracy I will go. No problem.
 
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99. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:33 nin
 
Same here. EULAs used to contain common-sense stuff, and now these days they contain ridiculous stuff. Either way, I will not read it. I only clicked "I Agree", because I wanted to play the 100 games that I own.

Wait wait wait...you're all "fight da power!" when it comes to blizzard being online, but you use steam?


I purchased/own these games.

You own a license. One that can be revoked at any time.



 
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98. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:32 avianflu
 
bottom line --

when steam has a major-level user account security breach (and they will because it is happening every other week with major companies these days) this proactively protects their corporate butts.


 
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97. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:28 deqer
 
Sepharo wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 23:20:
After my Steam updated today I agreed to new policies, I didn't read them. If I have something worth filing a lawsuit over I'm going to file it, Next and Okay buttons be damned.
Same here. EULAs used to contain common-sense stuff, and now these days they contain ridiculous stuff. Either way, I will not read it. I only clicked "I Agree", because I wanted to play the 100 games that I own.

I will still file a lawsuit, and I will claim I did not agree to their Terms of me not being allowed to file a lawsuit--because that's just common sense.

When I clicked "Disagree", steam would shutdown.

What is the point of agreeing to a EULA if you are forced to agree anyways? What is the point if a EULA can change whenever it wants after you've already agreed with the previous version of the EULA, and purchased 100 games. Now suddenly the EULA can change whenever it wants and you're forced to agree with it so you can play the 100 games you own? Yeah, that's rich...

Can I not Disagree and still play my games? I purchased/own these games. You can't change terms on it whenever you feel like it--that's ridiculous. That is not what I signed up for, and had I known this kind of bullshit would happen then I wouldn't have purchased games from you in the first place.
 
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96. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:24 deqer
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 22:05:
If class action lawsuits are being abused then the system needs to be reformed.

It's a shame that the legal system is such a mess than clauses like this are even needed.
 
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95. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:09 Verno
 
Phasenoise wrote on Aug 1, 2012, 10:02:
Suing is not the answer to everything, and is generally a less reliable factor in steering companies than simple revenue.

MS made those changes because they wanted to stay in the market, not because they were afraid of class action suits. If they didn't cover the RROD, people wouldn't buy the 360 and almost certainly the sales of their next console would suffer as well

Yeah I don't buy that at all, I remember that whole debacle pretty clearly and Microsoft had many opportunities to "stay in the market". Instead they did everything they could to deny those design faults with the 360. They denied them repeatedly in the press despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They refused to give the press information on repair rates. They blamed customers for where they housed and how they treated their console. They issued press releases saying time and time again how it was a minor percentage of owners which turned out to be a complete falsehood.

It wasn't until public pressure started to mount and several campaigns started to collect parties for a class action that they suddenly had a change of heart. For right or wrong, the public tends to use class actions to hold companies accountable for their actions when they are otherwise unreachable. The financial considerations behind it are largely secondary, most class actions don't reward anyone but the attorneys.
 
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94. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 10:02 Phasenoise
 
Suing is not the answer to everything, and is generally a less reliable factor in steering companies than simple revenue.

MS made those changes because they wanted to stay in the market, not because they were afraid of class action suits. If they didn't cover the RROD, people wouldn't buy the 360 and almost certainly the sales of their next console would suffer as well.

It's the same reason many makes of cars with poor reputations for reliability came out with huge warranties for a while. Not because of legal action - because of consumer pressure.

Arbitration is likely better for both sides than big class actions which benefit only legal teams.
 
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93. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Aug 1, 2012, 09:58 Prez
 
This is NOT good for the consumers at all. Anything that takes away your LEGAL rights is bad for you.

I'm a huge fan of Steam, and to a lesser extent Valve, but yeah, I can't argue with that. What you said is a fundamental truth, even if practically I won't ever making use of a class action suit over my videogame collection. It's just that because it is something so trivial that I just don't care that much. For the record I never cared when EA and Microsoft did it; I have plenty of legitimate reasons to not like them to have to nitpick over such small things.
 
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