Valve Slammed By Consumer Protection, Issued Cease And Desist On Anti-Consumerist EULA

Back in August Valve sent out a new End User License Agreement for the terms of service regarding Steam and Steam user accounts. Because of Valve's good standing with consumers, nary a gamer mounted a protest despite just about everyone making comments about how unfair it seemed that our own games that we paid for would be held at ransom if we didn't agree to the new EULA (Yeah, Cliffy, that all digital future ain't sounding all that hot now, is it?) Well, the German consumer advocacy group, vzbv, has issued an ultimatum to Valve: they either change their consumer policies or face the consequences.

Readers have been keeping us on our toes about big corps who make decisions that aren't always in the best interest of consumers, and remember, gamers are consumers. The crazy part about is that I never thought Valve would be in one of these kind of articles given that usually the “anti-consumerist” gig is relegated to the likes of Zynga, Electronic Arts, Activision, Capcom and recently, Blizzard. Anyway, the latest tip concerns German consumer advocacy group vzbv, the same group who hammered Blizzard back in July over false advertisement of Diablo III stating that the game didn't properly convey that it required an always-on connection.

In this case, following the European Union supreme court ruling that all digital software licenses should be eligible for resale amongst consumers, Valve promptly had their EULA changed in August to protect themselves against class-action lawsuits and to nullify any adherence to the abidance of tools, software or means in which to transfer a product service license from one user to next. Well, consumer protection wasn't having any of that.

According to German sites Heise Online and vzbv, it's reported that Valve has until September 26th of next week to give a “desist declaration” of their current EULA for users.

According to the vzbv...

When logging in, users receive a pop-up window pointing to approve the amended Steam Terms of Service and the Valve privacy policy. Alternatively, the player could select the "Cancel" button, but it also no longer have access to your own player account. The opinion of the vzbv disadvantaged especially those players who have purchased over the years by Valve Software and use a single account.

The vzbv further states that it's “account coercion” given that a player is forced to sign the EULA and have their games restricted to a single account. As mentioned, if you click “cancel” on that EULA you lose access to ALL your games. This puts players between a rock and a hard place, because if Valve ever decides to go to the dark side, all your games will go with them and there's nothing you can do about it.

More than anything, this “threat” is more-so to drag out the dirty laundry of the business dealings and consumer repercussions attached to legal lingo within EULAs, insofar that within the public eye it gets people riled up and forces them to have to address these less than savory institutions of running a business.

I'd like to see how Valve handles this situation. And as mentioned many times before, every other medium that deals with non-consumable consumer products allows the customer to trade-in, sell-off, auction or give away the product. However, that's not the case with digital video games. I'd like to hope that gamers and gaming companies can walk away from this ordeal without it getting nasty, especially since it's gaming's number one loved company involved.

I'm hoping things turn out for the best for gamers. In the end, it's your money you spent and you don't deserve to be nickel and dimed no matter who it is or what they're selling. With that said, I've already purchased and equipped a used level 10, chain-linked, flame-proof jockstrap. Gaben fanboys...flame away!

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.