In an unexpected turn of events, a French consumer group, UFC-Que Choisir, have chosen to begin legal action against Valve over the user agreement for their popular game distribution platform, Steam. The decision to sue was revealed in a French letter, in which they explained that Steam’s subscriber agreement contains elements deemed to be “detrimental to consumer interests.”
The points that the UFC bring against Steam were outlined on the Games sub-Reddit, where user ‘Silencement’ translated the letter. Shockingly, this translation may bring to light some questionable business practices you didn’t know about Valve, as many simply click-through the countless license agreements:
- It is expressly forbidden for customers to resell their digital games, which is contrary to French law, which allows the transfer of digital products and licenses.
- Valve refuse to accept any responsibility if they are hacked and customer data is leaked, or user accounts are compromised.
- Valve has ownership to the rights to any user-created content uploaded to Steam.
- Customers cannot get funds added to their Steam account refunded if their account is closed, deleted or banned.
In short, Valve applies Luxembourg’s consumer law, regardless of the laws of the user’s country.
Steam is often considered one of the best game digital distribution platforms in terms of customer service, especially compared to that of consoles, this lawsuit outlines some worrying issues. So while it may be unreasonable for Valve to keep an array of user agreements to account for every country’s consumer laws, we have to hope that Valve will respond to these accusations by adjusting their practices for the sake of their customers. Considering their track record in the past, however, Valve stands a good chance of coming out on top should they choose to fight the legal battle to the end.