In part 1 we showed an example of how making a mistake in your purchase gives you no recourse when it comes to Valves Steam. Unlike brick and mortar stores or even places like Ebay which allow you to exchange and refund, Steam has “accounting” issues with this. In Part 2 of this series we look at some of Steams EULA clauses and things you should know.
This article is going to be posted over a few pages to separate the subjects at hand.
- Part 1, is our customer service issue with Steam.
- Part 2, will look at some of the problems with Valve’s Steam platform
- Part 3, will look at the alternatives to Steam
If you would like to know how to buy Games from Amazon if you live outside America check out this article
A few weeks ago we pointed out some of the clauses in the Origin EULA so we thought we would take a look at Steam’s EULA this time round. We picked out the 10 that stood out the most and listed them below for you.
1) THE PLATFORM:
The biggest thing you need to remember with Steam\Origin is that unlike other digital distribution stores, Steam and Origin are just that, a platform which give you access to your games, not the games themselves. Sites such as Impulse, Green Man gaming and Direct2Drive allow you to download the game itself, install it and play it as you please. Steam on the other hand can lock you out and if they say your out, then there is no way of accessing your games till they let you back in again.
If there is an issue with your billing, email address or they suspect that something doesn’t seem right, they can and will lock you out of your account and all of your games until they decide you can access your games again. The fact that you have 200+ games on your Steam account is great for showing off. That is until you get locked out of Steam and they take all 200+ games away from you and there is nothing you can do about it.
If you are an overseas Steam customer, because there is no office that the local consumer affairs office can raise your case to either, essentially you can say goodbye to all of them. Lets be clear, there is a .1% chance of this happening without reason or without you being at fault, but if it does happen and you’re that lucky .1%, have fun. You essentially have a single point of failure for all of your games. Remember, mistakes do happen.
2) BAN HAMMER:
When it comes to being banned for hacking, you really only have yourself to blame, but in the case you are correctly or incorrectly banned, VAC (Valve’s Anti Cheat system) can ban you on several VAC enabled games at the same time. So not only can you lose access to TF2, but you can also lose access to L4D and COD:MW2 too.
3) OFFLINE MODE:
I have never had a problem with this, but to be honest, I have only ever gone into offline mode 2 times int he last 5-6 years. But doing a quick search of Google will show a tonne of results where issues are clearly there. So if you plan on going on holidays with no net access and forget to turn offline mode on, sorry no
soup games for you. Yes it is your fault, but on the other hand, if you had discs and just installed them or used one of the other digital distribution stores that don’t require you to have an offline mode, then in most cases only a single authorization when installing the game would have been required and you would be playing games as you please.
I actually wasn’t aware of this one and in most cases it seems Steam is lenient when it comes to modding games. But while researching for the article I did come across comments where apparently you can have your entire account banned by a mod or change to files. They are entitled to ban you too as it is clearly stated in their EULA that you cant change files. So for example, there is an older game that requires a no cd .exe to apply a widescreen fix, but this is clearly against the Steam EULA, so while no one has been banned for it, they could do it and there isn’t much you can do about it if you do get the ban hammer.
5) WHAT IF STEAM SHUTS DOWN:
This is one of the most asked questions around Steam and the most common answer is that if Steam went down, Valve would enable your games to be played via a patch or through putting all Steam accounts into a permanent offline mode. From my research, this comment is based on what a “Volunteer Moderator” said on the steam forum. I could not find the post in which Gabe himself apparently says that Steam would be put into Offline mode in such a scenario. The link that is on Wikipedia leads to a dead end and there is no such post so whether you believe it or not is up to you.
What I am certain of, is that there is no clause in the EULA which guarantees you access if Steam goes down. You are basically trusting they will do the right thing, if they don’t, bad luck. Valve makes it pretty clear in the TOS that they may provide access in the event of Steam closing its doors but that are not obligated to do it.
According to Wikipedia,
After the initial authentication, an offline mode allows games to be run without being connected to your Steam account.According to the Steam Subscriber Agreement, Steam’s availability is not guaranteed and Valve is under no legal obligation to release an update disabling the authentication system in the event that Steam becomes permanently unavailable.
6) FREEDOM VS CONVENIENCE:
The biggest advantage of Steam is no doubt the convenience. Be it the automatic patching, the easy downloads or the centralization of your games. But in return you are most definitely giving up your freedoms. Its up to you which you prefer.
According to the EULA, you cant even let a friend\brother\mother borrow your game to play as you would be putting your account in jeopardy by doing so, taking us back to the platform issue in point 1. The Steam Subscriber Agreement states,
You may not reveal, share or otherwise allow others to use your password or Account. You agree that you are personally responsible for the use of your password and Account and for all of the communication and activity on Steam that results from use of your login name and password. You may not sell or charge others for the right to use your Account, or otherwise transfer your Account.
So you cant share your account and you cant sell your account. With a boxed game you can, easy as that. If I want to give my nephews boxed games that I no longer play, I can do that, I cant with my Steam games.
7) WHAT STEAM
DOESN’T GUARANTEE YOU:
Ill let steam do the talking, they obviously think this one is important as they bolded this in their EULA,
THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF USE OR PERFORMANCE OF STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, AND MERCHANDISE REMAINS WITH YOU, THE USER. VALVE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS (I) ANY WARRANTY FOR STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, AND THE MERCHANDISE, AND (II) ANY COMMON LAW DUTIES WITH REGARD TO STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, AND THE MERCHANDISE, INCLUDING DUTIES OF LACK OF NEGLIGENCE AND LACK OF WORKMANLIKE EFFORT. STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, THE MERCHANDISE, AND ANY INFORMATION AVAILABLE IN CONNECTION THEREWITH ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” BASIS, “WITH ALL FAULTS” AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NONINFRINGEMENT. ANY WARRANTY AGAINST INFRINGEMENT THAT MAY BE PROVIDED IN SECTION 2-312(3) OF THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE AND/OR IN ANY OTHER COMPARABLE STATE STATUTE IS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. ALSO, THERE IS NO WARRANTY OF TITLE, INTERFERENCE WITH YOUR ENJOYMENT, OR AUTHORITY IN CONNECTION WITH STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, MERCHANDISE OR INFORMATION AVAILABLE IN CONNECTION THEREWITH. THIS SECTION WILL APPLY TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW.
B. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY.
NEITHER VALVE, ITS LICENSORS, NOR THEIR AFFILIATES SHALL BE LIABLE IN ANY WAY FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND RESULTING FROM THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE STEAM, YOUR ACCOUNT, YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS AND THE SOFTWARE INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OF GOODWILL, WORK STOPPAGE, COMPUTER FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION, OR ANY AND ALL OTHER COMMERCIAL DAMAGES OR LOSSES. IN NO EVENT WILL VALVE BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, MERCHANDISE THAT YOU ACQUIRE VIA STEAM, ANY INFORMATION AVAILABLE IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, OR THE DELAY OR INABILITY TO USE MERCHANDISE OR ANY INFORMATION, EVEN IN THE EVENT OF FAULT, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY, BREACH OF CONTRACT, OR BREACH OF VALVE’S WARRANTY AND EVEN IF VALVE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. THESE LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS REGARDING DAMAGES APPLY EVEN IF ANY REMEDY FAILS.
IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT OF A EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRY, THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.
C. NO GUARANTEES.
VALVE DOES NOT GUARANTEE CONTINUOUS, ERROR-FREE, VIRUS-FREE OR SECURE OPERATION AND ACCESS TO STEAM, THE SOFTWARE, YOUR ACCOUNT AND/OR YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS(S).
So basically they don’t guarantee much at all to you.
8 ) REMEDIES
So what recourse do you have against Valve?
- EXCLUSIVE REMEDIES
A. EXCLUSIVE REMEDY — STEAM AND THE SOFTWARE.
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR ANY DISPUTE WITH VALVE WITH REGARD TO STEAM OR THE SOFTWARE IS TO DISCONTINUE USE OF STEAM AND CANCEL YOUR ACCOUNT. BECAUSE SOME STATES OR JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR THE LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, IN SUCH STATES OR JURISDICTIONS, VALVE, ITS LICENSORS, AND THEIR AFFILIATES LIABILITY SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE FULL EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.
Basically its called the “Have a nice day, thanks for coming” clause.
9) THE LAUNCHER:
We all know that that regional pricing has nothing to do with Steam. But did you know that activating a game in one region, then going overseas to play in another means that the game will probably not work? You will most probably have to contact Steam (through email, no live chat or phone here folks) and request that they re activate it for the region you are in, but again no guarantees. Knowing and hoping Steam will do the right thing are two different things. Of course, you wouldn’t have this problem with a boxed game or other stores.
If you have third party games on Steam, back their keys up. If your account is suspended or permanently deactivated you will NOT have a chance to retrieve these. The keys for games that you have on Steam can most probably be used on RETAIL versions of the game. So if you have an issue in the future, at least you have your keys.
We know there are a lot of Fan Boys\Girls of Steam and to be honest, we were too, until “that” incident. Feel free to comment and say we are wrong, but we are not writing this article to say this or that company is better. What we want to do is to shed some light on the current gaming digital distribution platforms and more importantly, remind people that there are other stores out there. Using them will increase competition and that will only benefit gamers. More competition will see better services being offered by all of the digital gaming stores and platforms and cheaper games too. As we said in the Origin article, the best case scenario for a gamers is 4-5 Steam like stores that fight for your dollar. A monopoly is never a good thing and right now, Steam is looking pretty strong.
In part 3 we will show you a list of stores that you can get your games from and in many cases, cheaper too. We will also list a few price comparison stores so you can find the cheapest game available at any given time.
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