STEAM : is an online platform for distributionand purchase, multiplayer communicationand DRM developed by VALVe Corp. STEAM is accessed via a client which installs on the users computer, mac or PS3 console
(VALVe: SoftwareDeveloper foundedby ex Microsoftemployees GabeNewell and MikeHarrington, alsodeveloped the‘source’ engine usedin all subsequentVALVe games. Steamhas exclusivity ofthese games, all ofwhich are bestsellers)
IN SHORTo 54,000,000 active user accounts as of 2012 (Gaming Bolt 2012)o 70% dominance on digital distribution market (Gamasutra 2009)o Cloud based distribution and account info storageo Distributes Proprietary Software Licenseso Steam offers integration of User Generated Content with the Steam system (Steam 2012)
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo User downloads and installs the client on applicable hardware.Thus agreeing to:o http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/o http://store.steampowered.com/privacy_agreement/
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo Children under the age of 13 are encouraged to only sign up with parental guidance.This is not enforced and any child can install Steam withoutadult consent. However, a credit card, Steam Wallet or PayPalaccount is still needed to purchase games.
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo User account information can be changed upon request: The user can manipulate the way they are represented within the Steam user-base and community, at the discretion of Steam.This means anyone can obtain Steam and assume the identityof any demographic they choose, unless Steam discovers this
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo Habits and behaviours of individual users and demographics can be monitored at the discretion of Steam and shared to other parties without restrictionOther parties include Law Enforcement, disclosure towhom is not made clear in the Agreement.
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo Habits and behaviours of individual users and demographics can be monitored at the discretion of Steam and shared to other parties without restrictionThis includes hardware monitoring and reporting,which is optional by request.The hardware survey gages the performance andusage of hardware and software by users for Steammarketing purposes. (Steam 2012)
HOWEVERo “Valve will not share personally identifying information with third parties for marketing purposes.”VALVe won’t sell your details to marketing companies. Good on you VALVe.
HOWEVERo If you use a proxy/VPN for anonymity: VALVe can terminate your Steam account:“You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguisethe place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictionson game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography,or for any other purpose. If you do this, we may terminate your access toyour Account.”
HOWEVER o “VALVe may cancel your account or any particular Subscription(s) at any time.”For, but not limited to; “a violation of this Agreement orimproper or illegal activity” VALVe may cancel theuser’s account without obligation of refund.
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo In the case of account cancellation: “You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Valve, its licensors, and its and their affiliates...”This clause survives the account termination, so evenif you are no longer a Steam client, Steam is notlegally obliged to you.
WHEN A USER SIGNS UPo Violation of the Agreement or illegal activity can include the illegal modification and repurposing of software distributed by SteamThis is to prevent piracy via the Steam network,however this is enforced by Steam DRM.Steam allows and encourages the use of theirworkshops to modify and create User GeneratedContent
USER GENERATED CONTENTo VALVe has an unlimited use license on ALL user generated content“you expressly grant Valve and its affiliates the complete and irrevocableright to use, reproduce, modify, create derivative works from, distribute,transmit, broadcast, and otherwise communicate, and publicly display andperform the User Generated Information and derivative works thereof in anyform, anywhere, with or without attribution to you, and without any notice orcompensation to you of any kind.”o If a user creates, modifies or contributes to content made available on Steam (maps, mods, programs) this belongs to Steam with no obligation on their part to the user.
USER GENERATED CONTENTo VALVe has an unlimited use license on ALL user generated content This agreement survives subscriptiontermination: “All your data are belong to Steam”
HOWEVER:o A user may cancel their OWN account at any timeo BUT the account still exists but is rendered inaccessible. (AccountKiller 2012)Only accounts with no purchases made/no licences orsubscriptions pending are fully deleted, meaningpersonal info is retained on VALVe servers This also means no refunds or transfer of purchased games/software can be attained
HOWEVER:o This means that if an account is lost, deactivated, terminated or cancelled in any way:VALVe does not have any obligation to refund orcompensate for loss of digital licenses in any way:The games you buy are merely borrowed via Steamand are never possessed by the user as independentsoftware.
That’s right:“Your license confers no title or ownership in the Software.”
Lawsuit and Class Action Waiver; restricting the legalpower of the user.This means no legal action against VALVe in the case of:o Fraudo Torto Statuteo Unfair competitiono Misrepresentationo “Any other legal theory”Steam allows, however, for claims against unauthorised use,piracy or theft from the user’s account, to be dealt with betweenthe user and Steam.
LEGALo Any legal proceedings outside of Europe must take place in Washington state.“You agree that this Agreement shall be deemed to have been made andexecuted in the State of Washington, and any dispute arising hereunder shall beresolved in accordance with the law of Washington.”o All legal proceedings within Europe must take place in Luxembourg“You agree that this Agreement shall be deemed to have been made andexecuted in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and that it is subject to the laws ofLuxembourg, excluding the law of conflicts and the Convention on Contracts forthe International Sale of Goods (CISG)..”
LEGALo All legal proceedings within Europe must take place in Luxembourg, however:“However, where the laws of Luxembourg provide a lower degree of consumerprotection than the laws of your country of residence, the consumer protectionlaws of your country shall prevail. In any dispute arising under this Agreement,the prevailing party will be entitled to attorneys fees and expenses.”o Steam is flexible in application of its legal consumer protection and rights, in favour of the user (outside of the USA).
DISTRIBUTIONo Purchasing software requires a credit card or pre- payment to ‘Steam Wallet’, VALVe’s in-house ‘PayPal’ Want to take money back out of your Steam Wallet? o NON REFUNDABLE
DISTRIBUTIONo Purchasing software requires a credit card or pre- payment to ‘Steam Wallet’, VALVe’s in-house ‘PayPal’ Want to close your account and get your game licences transferred/redeemed? o NON REFUNDABLE
DISTRIBUTIONo Purchasing software requires a credit card or pre- payment to ‘Steam Wallet’, VALVe’s in-house ‘PayPal’ VALVe closes your account while you have game licences purchased? o NON REFUNDABLE
DISTRIBUTIONo Purchasing software requires a credit card or pre- payment to ‘Steam Wallet’, VALVe’s in-house ‘PayPal’ Change in subscription details incur additional costs? o NON REFUNDABLE
DISTRIBUTIONo Purchasing software requires a credit card or pre- payment to ‘Steam Wallet’, VALVe’s in-house ‘PayPal’ Extra cash in your Steam Wallet when your account is terminated? o NON REFUNDABLE
DISTRIBUTIONo And finally: “When you provide payment information to Valve or to one of its payment processors, you represent to Valve that you are the authorized user of the card, PIN, key or account associated with that payment” Steam also says in the event of unauthorised usage of your account is entitled to claims, however, this clause make these circumstances. Otherwise: o NON REFUNDABLE
CENSORSHIP:o Censorship of content: Steam offers censored editions of games depending on the national position i.e.; Australia has had no R18+ classification for games, many have been altered or banned.o Banned games are not available through Steam in applicable countries, if at all.o Cheating, hacking or otherwise disobeying the Steam acceptable conduct policy incurs account termination.
STEAM ONLINE CONDUCT All Steam subscribers agree to not commit any of the following offences:o Upload copyrighted materialo Infringe proprietary material rightso Upload malicious softwareo Attack Steam servers in any wayo Use Steam as a marketing scheme userbaseo Violate legal rights of other users including privacy and publicityo Inhibit or restrict enjoyment or use of Steam serviceso Harvest user information in any wayo Create a false identity for the purpose of misleading otherso Violate any law or regulation
WHAT IT BOILS DOWN TO:o When you buy a game: YOU DO NOT OWN ITo When you create content: YOU DO NOT OWN ITo If you close your account/is terminated: NO REFUNDo If you want to use anonymously: ACCOUNT TERMINATEDo If you want to take Steam to court: NO