German Consumer Agency Warns Valve Over Steam EULA

Hectic Glenn

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In August Valve updated the Steam EULA which some people objected to. The changes were in response to the European Union Supreme Court which stipulated that software licenses should be available for resale, something Steam does not allow.

Additionally, by declining the EULA you are prevented access to the games you own on Steam. Both these issues have lead to the VZBV (German Consumer Advocacy Group) to issue valve with a desist notice which they must respond to by 26th September or...things get messy for Valve and their biggest market in Europe.

Watch this space, perhaps Valve will respond and update their EULA again in order to dodge the resale issue, or will they have to cave in? A big thank you to Dennis for his translation from official agency website!
 

trineas

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The changes were in response to the European Union Supreme Court which stipulated that software licenses should be available for resale, something Steam does not allow.
That's not true. The EULA changes had nothing to do with the European Court of Justice ruling.
 

Rorschach120

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If it is true than it's absurd. Software licenses do not belong on ebay. There would be no reason to sell them for any cheaper besides just to undercut the developer/publisher. The way it works now is just fine. It may not allow you to get your money back but the software never loses it's function as a source of entertainment, and even in Valve's case gets improved over time. Not to mention your games are always there because of Steam, Valve is managing your properties server-side indefinitely. They have to come up with a workaround.
 

Hectic Glenn

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That's not true. The EULA changes had nothing to do with the European Court of Justice ruling.
From what I've read, the EULA changes have ensured Steam is exempt of the laws which the European Court ruled on, of allowing the resale of software licenses. Unhappy with that, the VZBV have reacted.
 

MetalNinja

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Wow. The customer declined the terms. It's his/her own fault that they screwed themselves.
 

Remus

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Well, they're there as long as Steam is there...
That's the biggest problem I have with steam. You have a whole bunch of games tied to your Steam account that would become unusable should Steam go under.
 

Laivasse

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From what I understood, the EULA change a while back was mostly about class action suits. Although there is some stuff about non-transferable games, it retained the bit saying 'EU citizens' mandatory consumer rights are not diminished by this agreement', so I'm not sure how Valve could use it to evade the resale ruling in the longer term. For reference, here's a layman's paraphrasing of the EULA that somebody did. In the legalese there's a lot of woolly terms like 'THIS AGREEMENT STOPS YOU FROM DOING STUFF - EXCEPT WHEN IT DOESN'T.'

The older, larger problem, and probably the reason the consumer group are angry, is the fragility of access to your games through Steam. The EULA acceptance pop-up made some people realise that Valve can essentially hold your already purchased games to ransom with whatever they stick in the TOS. That probably doesn't square too great with consumer law. It'll be good if it gets tested, since it can only make Steam better, although it's tough to imagine how this will be worked out.
 

Gloone

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Hold on... Valve were going to prevent me from playing the games I previously purchased if I didn't agree to their new conditions?

That's absolutely shitty, Gabe.
 

Tollbooth Willie

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Germany is never happy about shit. F*cking Catholics, you give them a mile and they take the whole bag of weed, I swear.
 

morgs

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Hold on... Valve were going to prevent me from playing the games I previously purchased if I didn't agree to their new conditions?

That's absolutely shitty, Gabe.
Don't tell me you buy games on steam without realizing that Valve has this control over them.
 

Boff

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problem 1)
Steam being global has a little issue with buying cheap in one country and reselling cheaper n another.
problem 2)
Valve as we know are not in charge of the original pricing scheme either.
problem 3)
multi-pronged distribution legalise with each game publisher and with each game and with each country.
problem 4)
Should the original developer and/or publisher benefit from the deal? more people are playing there games? Should there be a tax on it?
With an EU mandate, ONLY those countries inside of the EU come within it's juristiction.
Maybe re-selling games at the original price, or a set additional fee for the original publisher, another for the developer and another for valve to help discourage it, and limit the feature to within the same country.

So maybe that's the work around - people *can*resell, but it's limited and hard to do.
 

Remus

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Should the original developer and/or publisher benefit from the deal? more people are playing there games? Should there be a tax on it?

Maybe re-selling games at the original price, or a set additional fee for the original publisher, another for the developer and another for valve to help discourage it, and limit the feature to within the same country.

So maybe that's the work around - people *can*resell, but it's limited and hard to do.
How about no, to all of the above.

Why should software get special treatment? For example if you buy a car use it for a few years then want to resell it, the car manufacturer and the distributor do not benefit from it at all.

Don't tell me you buy games on steam without realizing that Valve has this control over them.
That's why I only own a handful of games on Steam.
 

DEATH eVADER

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I missed the whole EULA. I know this is about being able to resell bought games, but does this include selling your Steam Account to a third party?
 

Hectic Glenn

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I believe, technically, that you don't own your Steam account, that is also Valve's. And as such...it's breaking their terms to attempt to sell it. Valve scour common places where Steam account sales occur (and also probably have other means of checking, like IP traces etc). They disable those accounts if they find them, no matter how much the account is worth.
 

morgs

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It's the same with many things, MMO accounts for example, you do not own. You are merely renting space in the world for your characters. At least that's how it is with WoW. They don't seem to crack down so much on account selling though.
 

Wang Tang

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Why should software get special treatment?
Because software is "Not A Real Thing" (tm). The same with music, or films.

For example if you buy a car use it for a few years then want to resell it, the car manufacturer and the distributor do not benefit from it at all.
I can't believe people are still using car analogies. But to go along:
  • You buy a car, use it for a few years, then resell it. Your car has lost significant value in the meantime, not only because it's old, but because there are traces of use.
    You cannot sell at the value you bought (well, you can, but no one will buy it), so you sell an inferior product for less, and thus you don't compete directly with the manufacturers.
  • You buy software, use it for a few years, then resell it. Your software has not lost any value whatsoever, because it still works like on day one, it still looks like day one or better and the tires are not worn out.
    You can sell at the value you bought (or slightly less, to make it more attractive), and in doing so you directly compete with the manufacturer.
This may be cool for you as a customer, but it is not economically viable in the long run.

Regarding the complaint by the vzbz: really one of the main gripes of the vzbz is that if you decline the EULA changes, you cannot keep playing the games you already "own". I think this is a major issue, but it could be solved e.g. with some kind of "restricted" account, one that you can only use to play already aquired games, but not buy new ones.
 

TechnoHippyChic

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  • You buy software, use it for a few years, then resell it. Your software has not lost any value whatsoever


Ok, I've got a copy of Office 2003 I'll sell ya. Full price (or slightly less, to make it more attractive).
 

ríomhaire

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Anyone want to buy a copy of C&C Renegade from me? Only €40.
 

Schru

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What I think Wang Tang has in mind is a hypothetical case where one would try to sell games not long after their release, before a decrease in price would occure.
 

Rorschach120

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It is still what it was when you bought it. The cost of older games has gone down so you are still directly competing with the manufacturer. Unless you are serious about the 40euros, then it will never sell.

You can't even buy Office 2003 anymore and it still does exactly what it did when you bought it. So whose fault is it that you spent that much money on it? The fact that there is newer software that does more than the old is a product of corporatism, grow or die sort of thing. It doesn't change what the old software did (although Office is a poor example because it really does all you need it to) The way the market is set up doesn't change the fact that the product itself is incomparable to something such as a car or computer for that matter.

I strongly believe that open-source is how software like that will be released in the future. Big software corporations are going to have to start making some very impressive next-gen stuff in order for people to pay ~$100-200 on software. So things like office will slowly become less popular than OpenOffice, etc... Especially as those projects become enhanced over time, which is all that can happen to it... Unlike a car, although I'd love to drive a refinished Boss Mustang. Unfortunately it would cost more than the car did back when it was released.
 

<RJMC>

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so how is that going? is real that steam might be banned in the eu? I seriously doubt it
 

Clay

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oh my god gaiz steem is going to be banned in the eu alert the press

No, but seriously, why bother tin-foil hatting? I highly doubt Steam is ever going to go under. Maybe well in to the future if something new comes along, but right now, Gabe's got the PC market in his sweaty hands. Enjoy the ride and give him pizza money.
 
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