About two months ago, Valve changed Steam’s terms of service. There was no skulking about, and everybody was made as well-informed as they could possibly be, because Valve are good at dealing with their customers. But the crux of it was that those same customers would no longer be able to bring class action lawsuits against the company – that is, as a group of complainants or with the help of a consumer organisation, rather than as individuals.
Not everybody’s been happy about this. Least of all the consumer organisations, one of which is acting on behalf of EU consumers in dragging Valve to court, should they fail to respond to a desist order before October 10th.
The Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. – or Federation of German Consumer Organisation – is made up of a number of consumer rights advocates. They argue that, when Steam’s EULA agreement was updated in August, users had little choice over whether or not to accept the proposed changes. Presented with the choice to accept or ‘cancel’ upon starting up Steam, their only alternative was to be locked out of their game libraries.
It’s not just the forbiddance of class action suits that the VZBV want reversed, either. Valve’s EULA agreement came in the wake of an EU supreme court ruling that decreed all digital software licenses – i.e., the contents of your Steam library – should be eligible for resale. In response, Steam’s EULA now forbids the use of any software or tools with which licenses might be transferred from one user to another.
The VZBV aren’t keen on this, and are demanding that Valve issue a ‘desist declaration’ of their EULA in its current form to all Steam users in the next two weeks.
Given that no digital games distributor currently offers resale – with the partial exception of Green Man Gaming, which conducts trade-ins – it’s going to be interesting to see how Valve handles this case.
EU gamers – do you feel that the VZBV are representing your interests in going after Valve?