Steam TOS Leads to Trouble in Germany


A German consumer group is demanding a change to Steam’s updated terms of service.

In August, Valve made a fairly substantial change to its terms of service that did away with the right of Steam users to partake in class-action lawsuits against it. That in itself wasn’t necessarily a big deal – who would ever sue those good guys at Valve, right? – but more troubling was the response to people who weren’t entirely comfortable with the new provisions and didn’t want to put their names to the updated TOS.

A NeoGAF user who contacted Valve to inquire about declining the new subscriber agreement was told that he was free to do so, but that if he did, his account would be permanently deactivated and any games and other content he had purchased on Steam would be lost. He would not receive any kind of refund for his lost games, and once deactivated, the account could never again be reactivated.

Consumer response to Valve’s “my way or the highway” was surprisingly muted (well, it wasn’t all that surprising, really) but German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (Federation of German Consumer Organizations), heretofore referred to as VZBV, isn’t satisfied with the change. It said that the choice of agreeing to the new terms or facing the loss of all Steam content amounts to “coercion,” and it has given Valve until September 26 to respond to its demands that the content denial provision be changed.

If Valve refuses to do so, or fails to respond to the demand, the VZBV may elect to take the matter to court. The most likely outcome is some kind of compromise that accommodates German and/or E.U. law, but in a theoretical worst-case scenario, Valve could decide to simply drop Steam support in Germany.

Valve isn’t the only big, popular game company the VZBV has gone after in recent months; in July it turned its sights on Blizzard over its failure to adequately warn consumers about Diablo III’s always-on internet requirement.

Source: Gaming Blend

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