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Mad about new Steam TOS? Blame yourself!

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…

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Christopher2147d ago

Look up sevarability. Most states and even countries protect the individual from such agreements, making that portion of the EULA null and void through the use of severability.

They are adding this into their EULA just as a way to avoid it, and sadly video game manufacturers are not the first to do it. It's been in most software for years now. But, even with it, the court can easily overturn this licensing agreement portion if just cause were presented as to why it would adversely affect the users.

***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. ***

40% of that money, which they didn't get until years and years later, went to the lawyers.

DragonKnight2147d ago

Wow, your blog went in the WRONG direction to gain support against this kind of action. For starters, Sony didn't "start" this action. As cgoodno stated above, it has been present for quite some time in the PC world of software.

Two, your views on what happened during the PSN downtime show a huge bias against Sony and no fact.

Three, Sony implemented their version of that TOS due to the people trying to file a flawed class-action suit against them for the removal of OtherOS, and then another flawed ATTEMPT at a class-action suit over the PSN hack. Their TOS states that you agree to NOT file a class-action suit against them, or if you do you lose access to PSN. That is a reasonable term. Why would A)You continue to use the service of a company you are suing, and B)That company ALLOW you to use that service especially when you pay nothing for it. The TOS doesn't prevent you from filing a class-action suit, it states that if you do then you understand you waive your right to access PSN.

Similarly, any company with this kind of TOS can't actually prevent you from filing a class-action suit, but they CAN deny you access to a service for the duration of that suit unless you pay for that service. And even, in some cases, if you do pay for it they can deny you access because, let's be serious here, why would someone allow you to use something when you're attacking them in court over it?

People need to actually pay attention to all the language in these EULA/TOS agreements. When they don't, and they get all into a huff about it, all it does is make them look like they are sue happy people upset that they can't make money off a company if something doesn't go their way. There's fighting for consumer rights, and then there's just trying to make an easy buck off a company.

JD_Shadow2146d ago (Edited 2146d ago )

Your entire comment is actually part of what I'm talking about. We're apologizing for companies doing things like this because we have a bias FOR them. Yeah, I own a PS3, and have owned all the other Playstations up until this point. I've yet to own a Vita, but it does show promise. I think Sony did well in their time as a game company. But does that mean I HAVE to support them in every single thing they do, or never think that something they do is doing something completely wrong? Of course not. We're free to criticize a company, even if we like them, if there's something completely wrong.

Secondly, you didn't read my blog. Look at it again. I've already brought up that other companies have done this (the very first fucking paragraph even brings this up; I didn't even say that Sony was the first, but they were the most recent big name...which is a FACT), but that Valve's addition of the "agree or else we take your games from you" platform indeed IS a new twist to this story. My citing Sony as the example is simply because it was the freshest in my mind. Nothing more. If you want to think that it somehow shows any kind of bias in any sort of way, then okay, but you're flawed in that thinking (not to say that every time I dare criticize Sony over that mess a year ago, you suddenly pop out of nowhere to ride my ass about it as if I've suddenly stabbed someone in the back).

And let me ask you something since you seem to be so supportive of Sony's inclusion of this tactic, so muc so that every time I've even hinted at Sony being dead wrong in doing such you come out with some flawed logic: do you agree with Valve implementing it? How about Microsoft? How about in PC, since you brought that up first? Why is it that them doing it first makes this okay? If you were one of the ones that are bitching now about Valve including this in the Steam platform, then why didn't you care when someone else that you DO like did so? Please answer this for me because I'm lost on where you get this failed logic that, one, I can't dare say that a company I like does something that I venomously disagree one, and two, that something that you said was good or bad for one person is the exact opposite for someone else.

And about the OtherOS, do you even remember WHY Sony removed that? It was because of the jailbreaking thing, something that Sony doesn't want you to do for any reason. Oh, wait, there I go again, dogging on Sony about it. Hell, what am I thinking? All that time about defending Sony gamers of their feelings about FFXIII, Tekken 6, exclusive DLC, MS using their money to buy a victory this gen, having a feud with Torrence Davis and the Bitbag over their reporting of the MS Blogger Breakfast 08, and anything else that I've said doesn't matter now. I've disagreed with Sony over a moral issue. Quick, get your pitchforks and torches. I'm showing a bias against Sony.

Seriously, get off of it! Please post an actual reply to me about this subject without saying that I've somehow held any kind of bias or thinking that I'm some piece of shit for having an opinion that you don't agree with. If you don't agree, fine. But don't act like a complete douchebag because we fundamentally disagree over this. Perhaps direct your anger towards the people who MADE these kinds of TOSs the norm instead of the people who dare call out companies for making them to begin with.

DragonKnight2146d ago (Edited 2146d ago )

I never said that anyone can't criticize a company, I said that that you have to know ALL of the facts if you're going to do so. Simply seeing something that says "no class action suit" and running with it WITHOUT reading all of the language about it makes you look foolish.

No one can take your right away to sue, and no one has. They are all telling you that you will lose access to their service if you sue in a class action suit. And THAT is reasonable. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant and quite stupid. It's like you're saying you should be allowed to sue and also use the service of the company you're suing. That's ridiculous. Your rights haven't been taken away. And since that is true, what is your real problem?

I brought up OtherOS because it was one of the class action suits against Sony and I used it as context to frame my argument around. One can see why Sony would make such a section in their TOS if they are being sued for frivolous reasons over and over.

People sued them over OtherOS even though they didn't use it because they believed they were paying for an advertised feature. The feature wasn't advertised and was free. An exploit of the feature compromised the security of the system and so Sony had a legal obligation to protect the investment of every shareholder and developer that creates content for the PS3.

People sued them over the PSN hack FOR NO FRICKIN' REASON! NO ONE'S credit information was compromised, NO ONE lost any money, NO ONE pays for PSN. You think it's right for Sony to have to defend themselves in court when they didn't do a damn thing wrong and were a victim?

When a company creates a TOS that truly steps on consumer rights, then by all means complain about it. Complain about the current ones if you want, but know all the facts first.

JD_Shadow2146d ago (Edited 2146d ago )

I think there was good reason for someone to sue Sony or to at least criticize them over the downtime of PSN. Yeah, it could've been for a security breach, but there was WAY too long of a time where we had complete silence over what was taking so long. I could understand having some secrecy to not expose to anyone else of the possible security risks, but c'mon! How are we to believe that you can't tell us SOMETHING about why it's taking you so long to fix something that was such a glaring hole in the wall that a 5 year old could find a way to get around and that you should've caught it in the first place (as was reported).

The fact of this is that while you have a point about people using a service that they have an issue with, the thing about it is that they bought the system and thus they should have some legality there. The legal system is complex and nothing is exactly in black and white (hell, I can't make heads or tails out of some of it myself), so there are several loopholes in there that people can take advantage of. Not saying that they should or have in this case, but thing about it is that the laws and legal system is not perfect, and have things in there that probably should be changed.

More to the point, though, regardless of what you think about the morality of the issue (I don't think we'll EVER agree on if Sony was in the right or wrong to do what they did; I think those were low blows that hurt their reputation severely, but that's just me, and I've had an issue with people just letting companies stomp all over consumer rights and protections for years now), the thing about this is that this is the first time we've seen such a drastic course of action from ANY company if you don't agree with their terms. Neither Sony or MS has (yet) to restrict you from playing the offline parts of the games you bought on their platform. I never remembered Sony saying "if you don't agree with our terms, we're going to brick your PS3 and any other ones you try to buy". Not only is Steam saying that they can (and will) restrict you from the games you bought even if you want to use its offline mode, but it's a permanent ban that cannot be reversed for any reason. That's a BIG problem (assuming, again, that we read that e-mail correctly; that wasn't the best worded response), and it's something that yes, they SHOULD be called out on ASAP (and they mostly are getting called out on since they made it no secret what they were adding). Regardless of what you think about the morality of things like the TOS additions and all of that (which are a problem in of itself from my perspective), the "agree or we lock you out of Steam completely" platform is a bad thing to see out of ANY company, much less someone who we have trusted to not make those kinds of decisions.

And at least Sony gave you a amount of time to opt out of that "contract" while still being able to use PSN if you wanted. Valve isn't even doing THAT much. And with the shoddy way that Steam doesn't keep you in Offline Mode unless you change the setting, you're going to, at some point, have to make a decision that you know you're going to have a lot of moral opinions about one way or another (and from what I've seen on the NeoGAF post that first brought this up, Steam is really being sneaky in how they get you to view and make a decision on this change...a decision that could very well change your account status on Steam for life). That's the stick being put up the asses of many, and that's why this issue is being brought up again.

And again, if we had called out, say, Sony, Microsoft, or any other game company that put this out when we first saw this, then it wouldn't be such of the norm now.

Sephris2146d ago

Microsoft was already moving in this direction at the start of this year when they forced anyone who wanted to play on Live to give up any right to sue Xbox or Microsoft for any reason. Basically, if your Xbox 360 got up, killed your family and gave you AIDs, you would just have to suffer for it. Oh, any other reasons you might want to sue them were also included. So this was an obvious next step for them.

On a good note, the tighter they put their grip on their customers, the more their customers are going to start looking elsewhere. And that could mean the rise of a completely new gaming system. From adversity great things will come.