It is not just like owning a retail game. With a retail game the customer owns the media and can resell or transfer it to another person. With Steam you cannot sell your account/subscription nor can you sell or transfer any or all of the game subscriptions you have "purchased" in your account.
Short of being able to resell games it's the same. The physical media means nothing, it is the licence to use the software that is important - that you never own. The physical media is effectively the game as the downloaded content sitting on your drive.
That is a canard, and even if it were true, the Steam Subscriber Agreement trumps it. I suggest you actually read it. Valve guarantees nothing of the sort, and those users who have had their accounts terminated or otherwise lost them have had this agreement thrown in their faces when they protested the termination.
I lost my internet connection for a few days recently while engineers were working on the main connection - Steam loaded up in offline mode and I was able to play all of my games. I don't foresee Steam shutting down but even if it does I'll still be able to play my games.
Americans have the right to sell or transfer their copies of copyrighted works including computer software and video games. It is both enshrined in statute and case law.
You'll find that software licences actually operate outside of that. There have been test cases like Autodesk but they always get overturned on appeal. Even so they can simply be called a subscription despite not needing a regular payment and it bypasses such restrictions. I've been following it because the instrumental samples I use for music production have a licence that prevents resale - this is because if you produce work with the samples and then sell the licence on to someone else then effectively two people have the licence, which obviously isn't allowed. There was a huge discussion on the forums but the end result is that there isn't any around it - software developers can produce software that you can't legally resell.
The great thing about Gametap is that you don't have to pay a large fee upfront to pay a game like on Steam.
You mean the cost of buying a game. Well, the same can be said about renting a car but that doesn't mean renting a car is better than owning a car - most would agree that owning a car is better, even if not necessarily as good value.
I have not seen anything that shows the Steam software licence to be any different than a retail software licence other than the fact it is enforced. Fortunately the other features provided by Steam far outweigh the limitations.
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."