Valve has officially updated its Steam Subscriber Agreement, and with it comes the stipulation that you can no longer sue Valve collectively with your buddies for any reason, as the agreement prevents users from participating in class-action lawsuits against the company. Valve now joins Microsoft, Sony, and EA’s Origin service, among others, as companies who do not allow their users to partake in collective lawsuits against that respective entity regardless of the reason.
But why has Valve, a prominent developer/publisher that consistently stands as the paradigm for customer support and user-developer relationships, chosen to go this route? The Portal and Half-Life dev says that in most instances, class-action lawsuits are nothing more than cases designed to be financially beneficial for the representing law firm:
“We considered this change very carefully. It’s clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers. In far too many cases however, class actions don’t provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims. Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.”
As noted in the above statement, Valve has introduced a new “dispute resolution process” that the company believes will better assist customers with any and all transaction disputes:
“On Steam, whenever a customer is unhappy with any transaction, our first goal is to resolve things as quickly as possible through the normal customer support process. However in those instances in which we can’t resolve a dispute, we’ve outlined a new required process whereby we agree to use arbitration or small claims court to resolve the dispute. In the arbitration process, Valve will reimburse your costs of the arbitration for claims under a certain amount. Reimbursement by Valve is provided regardless of the arbitrator’s decision, provided that the arbitrator does not determine the claim to be frivolous or the costs unreasonable.”
So there you have it. Your dreams of gathering up your expansive Steam friends list and putting together a court case against Gabe Newell and Valve for falsely advertising Half-Life 2: Episode Three for approximately five years are now dashed. But hey, you can always go in on it alone. While you’re at it, you can try suing the company for intentional infliction of emotional distress for making us all wait this long.