Yes, that is correct. We’re the ones to blame for Valve suddenly going the way of Sony and Microsoft in its latest Steam TOS…more like a POS. Keep in mind that while the thing about class action lawsuits are nothing new (not that it makes it okay for someone to take such a draconian approach to the whole thing), the thing that came up about them possibly being able to completely and permanently lock you out of games you bought if you don’t agree to the terms IS something new, and is the genesis as to why this has become such a red button topic right now. Not to mention that this is coming from a company known for putting customers first.
We’re to blame for one reason only: we’ve come to accept things like this, and even somewhat encouraging them. Yeah, we understand the dangers of piracy and everything else, but do we seriously need to have everyone trample over consumer protections in order to combat something that could be considered a scapegoat when a game doesn’t sell well? In some gamers’ minds, yeah, it has to be. But it shouldn’t have to.
I had the same issue when Sony did this. The more people accept it, the more things like this are going to happen. Yeah, Valve poured the gasoline on the fire, but let’s look at who set the first to begin with. Let’s be honest, if we had called foul on Sony’s way to scamper past the lawsuits over the PSN downtime and whatnot, then we wouldn’t be in this state.
However, what did we do instead?
We allowed and encouraged people to say that George Hotz (oh, I’m sorry, I forgot we called him “Frodo” here) should be mutilated and unspeakable things done to his corpse, letting the comments fester for days on this site without even a hint of a moderator doing anything about it, and then two users that seemed to really hate Geohot get promoted to mods at a real suspicious time (no censoring became of it, but the timing was bad for that to happen as the two in question were shooting at the mouth about how Hotz was some disgusting excuse for a human being...nothing personal towards those people, but still...). We in the same breath cheered Sony on and encouraged them to use backdoor and nearly illegal tactics to win the case that ended up getting settled.
We argued over and over about the legality of homebrew on the PS3. Regardless of your view on that, bottom line is that the furor got as heated as the Geohot thing did.
The EFF, who was praised before, suddenly got slammed for filing for the DMCA exceptions (which are expected to be ruled on this year along with the phone jailbreak renewal).
The group Anonymous…well, how many times did we have to hear about that one.
And when the PSN went down last year…well, how many times did anyone who dared to question of what took so damn long get treated with endless vitriol?
Then, the class action lawsuit happened, and everyone cheered Sony on.
Then that TOS came down, and we KNEW what was in it. A few stories on this very site showed us exactly what they were doing. Did we call Sony out on it? Did we say that it couldn’t be true and that Sony was in the wrong, as we are doing with Valve now?
HELL NO! We PRAISED them for putting something like that in. We WANTED them to be immune from class action lawsuits.
Well, sort of. Sony did something that Valve isn’t doing now, which was give you the option to opt out with no harm done. And even if you didn’t agree with the TOS, you were still allowed to play the games you owned offline, at least.
But here came Valve with a megaton of an admission. Now, let’s be clear here that this came from a Steam Support clerk, and it was not the best worded answer in the world. So unless there’s enough furor over such an announcement that Gabe has to come forth and say something about the topic, as I’m sure there has been, we won’t be sure if this is the case or not. However, assuming that it is, this is the most draconian way to get you to say yes to something that effectively circumvents your rights.
Now, let’s also be clear that while class action lawsuits are not the best method in the world to get monetary compensation from a corporation that has done you wrong, there is an effect that it has, and that is that the reputation of said company gets put into question.
The movie Erin Brockovich dramatized the real story of a small town lawyer who was able to get PG&E to pay $333 million amongst over 600 plaintiffs after those 600 plus got sick from pollution in the groundwater from their doing (the details are in the movie). It was the highest amount paid in an arbitration case.
While each plaintiff probably didn’t get as much individually as they probably would’ve had if they each filed their own suit, there was financial damage done to PG&E, as well as reputation damage. How much attention do you think would get paid to an issue if so many people are willing to sue you? Look how much attention got paid to the lawsuit against Sony last year? Yes, class action lawsuits are something that companies don’t want to be defendants of because they have a MUCH harder time winning them because of the sheer volume of people willing to sue you. It’s easier to beat one person than twenty or forty of them.
So it would make sense, to them, to make sure that is taken out of the question (Valve even went as far as to post a Steam blog trying to paint a different picture about their decision). That in of itself isn’t okay because where is the exposure that they’re up to no good going to come from?
However, throw in the lock out of everything you paid for off of Steam and you got the recipe for disaster. To me, that’s what blew the lid off of this thing, and what could’ve made people wake up to TOS’s like this, and how far people are willing to go to make sure you accept their draconian measures.
Problem is, if only we woke up sooner…