Valve has made some changes to its Subscriber Agreement (you know, the agreement you quickly pass on when you’re registering for an account on Steam) and to be honest, we’re a bit shocked with some of them. With this new Agreement, Valve disallows class action claims, but still allows individual claims. What worries us here is the fact that Valve has managed to neuter large-scale cases from Steam users, particularly ones that might arise if the service were to ever shut down or block a mass number of users from playing a game they’d paid for. In other words, this new Agreement further proves that you’re basically renting your games on Steam. You don’t own anything. Not only that but if you decide not to agree to Valve’s binding arbitration clause, you lose all your games.
With regards to the new policy, Valve had this to say:
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.
Question is now whether or not PC gamers will suck it up and accept this new agreement without causing havoc about it. We also find it funny that Valve is – actually – taking advantage of Steam’s popularity and manages to get away with things that both EA (Origin) and CDPR (GOG) would not.