No matter how it works in the end, it`s a good example of why gamers shouldn`t be excited about the all-digital distribution revolution that video game publishers are rushing to. Often you don`t buy a game, but just a license to play a game. The problem (as evidenced by Steam`s new subscription agreement) is that the license can be withdrawn from you at any time, for any reason and without compensation. Earlier this month, Valve updated Steam`s subscription agreement in a language that prevents customers in dispute from suing the company and requires them to accept the decisions of an “independent” arbitrator paid by Valve. According to a Forbes article, Valve (the owner of Steam) is worth a huge sum of money (www.forbes.com/sites/oliverchiang/2011/02/15/valve-and-steam-worth-billions/). This means that the company probably has a lot of free money to burn, effectively ensuring that Valve will be able to pull arbitration as long as possible and deny any of the benefits that subscribers would have by using this format. Most users` problems can be solved using our Steam support website under support.steampowered.com/. If we are unable to resolve your concerns and there is a dispute between you and Valve, this section explains how we agree. Valve not only wants to assert his right to bid as a class, but also: “YOU UNDERSTAND that YOU AND VALVE IN RIGHT TO SUE IN COURT AND TO A TEST BEFORE A JUDGE OR A JURY.” The caps come directly from the subscription contract.

ALL forms of litigation are prohibited by this new subscription agreement, except in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this type of arbitration decision imposed in agreements with end-users is not new. Last year, after the hacking of PSN, Sony amended the agreement of terms of use of PSN to include similar statements. However, they also contained a clause in the agreement that allowed their customers to retain their right to sue if they wrote a letter to the company stating that they wanted to unsubscribe. I want to announce that I am a (soon to be old) Steam subscriber and that I have thirty games and 200 hours of play. I had a positive experience of Steam`s support on a personal level, so I was so shocked to see the changes. Although Steam uses DRM, I felt (like others in the Steam forum) that Steam DRM was done correctly. However, Steam has adopted a directive that I could understand from Microsoft and EA (because it corresponds to my expectations with regard to their corporate cultures). I didn`t see it coming from Valve.

If the agreement of this section, without collective action or representation, a general action of private lawyer or a collective arbitration procedure, is to be found to be illegal or unenforceable, you and Valve accept that they cannot be dissociable, that the entire section is unenforceable and that all claims or disputes are settled in court and not by collective arbitration. They and Valve agree to make appropriate, loyal and faithful efforts to resolve disputes informally before arbitration proceedings are initiated. A party intending to seek arbitration must first send a written notification to the other describing the nature and basis of the application or litigation and fixing the requested discharge.