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[RPS] Thought: Do We Own Our Steam Games?

post #1 of 170
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Quote:
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What do you own? Looking through my possessions, I feel fairly comfortable that the food in my fridge belongs to me. And I have an odd confidence that the hardware in my PC is mine. But the books on my shelves? I seem to have very little rights over them. The CDs stacked up in a cupboard (remember CDs?) certainly aren’t my property. And the software on my computer may as well be tied to a long piece of elastic, just waiting for the publishers to give it a tug. You own a license. But a license for what? This lack of ownership becomes even more concerning when it comes to the digital space, at which point our rights to anything become extremely ambiguous. And that’s something that can bite you hard on the bum, when places like Steam seem to reserve the right to ban you from your account, and not even tell you why they did it. Below is the story of one RPS reader who says he lost access to his entire Steam collection, and thoughts from game lawyer Jas Purewal on whether we really own any game we buy.

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This is one of the problems of digital distribution and licensing. Companies like EA, Valve, Microsoft, or Apple can just disable purchases at will. There are no laws that explicitly define consumer rights and software licensing. Caveat emptor.
Edited by Riou - 2/8/12 at 1:53am
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post #2 of 170
If steam banned my account i would sue them, or at leased try. I wouldn't even want money from them, just my account unblocked.
    
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post #3 of 170
I don't feel too comfortable about the amount of power digital distributors like Steam have over "my" games. I'm not overly worried to the point where I don't use it, but I do prefer physical copies when available.
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post #4 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riou View Post

This is one of the problems of digital distribution and licensing. Companies like EA, Valve, Microsoft, or Apple can just disable purchases at will. There are no laws that explicitly defines consumer rights and software licensing. Caveat emptor.

Do you know for sure that there are no laws to protect you. 9 times out of 10, no one reads the ToS or legal papers when they give the box a check.

They are distributing you a service. However, if you cheat, abuse other players, misuse the service, hack other accounts, etc., I'm sure anyone is fine with them eliminating their account as they making it unfair for thousands of other players.
post #5 of 170
It's the same for online games that use master servers. MMOs, games like MW2 and Battlefield (at least since BF2), virtually all free to play titles MMO or FPS, etc.

At any rate I'm not worrying about Valve shutting down or randomly wiping my account; a little firm-household trust is a good thing.
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post #6 of 170
I'm pretty sure we've never "owned" rights to media, whether that be a game, cd or film. Of course we do own the physical packaging but that's it. It's always been like that, ever since back in the day...

but, that's not cool. Let's rage and boycott stuff cos we're cool.
post #7 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Domino View Post

Do you know for sure that there are no laws to protect you. 9 times out of 10, no one reads the ToS or legal papers when they give the box a check.
They are distributing you a service. However, if you cheat, abuse other players, misuse the service, hack other accounts, etc., I'm sure anyone is fine with them eliminating their account as they making it unfair for thousands of other players.

Point is, if you buy a game it should be yours to own. If you hack, cheat, misuses, abuse, or whatever else you can think of, they should simply be able to ban you from online play / use of the service. Not completely stripping you of your game that you rightfully paid for. It's not like the game company would come to your door and take back a physical copy that you bought, why can they do so with digital copies? thumb.gif
post #8 of 170
I usually only buy from steam when there's insane deals, if I lost them, I wouldn't be as pissed
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post #9 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrak View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Domino View Post

Do you know for sure that there are no laws to protect you. 9 times out of 10, no one reads the ToS or legal papers when they give the box a check.
They are distributing you a service. However, if you cheat, abuse other players, misuse the service, hack other accounts, etc., I'm sure anyone is fine with them eliminating their account as they making it unfair for thousands of other players.

Point is, if you buy a game it should be yours to own. If you hack, cheat, misuses, abuse, or whatever else you can think of, they should simply be able to ban you from online play / use of the service. Not completely stripping you of your game that you rightfully paid for. It's not like the game company would come to your door and take back a physical copy that you bought, why can they do so with digital copies? thumb.gif

And if you cheat, hack, abuse, or misuse the game...you SHOULD lose the right to play that game honestly. Your point being what?
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post #10 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrak View Post

Point is, if you buy a game it should be yours to own. If you hack, cheat, misuses, abuse, or whatever else you can think of, they should simply be able to ban you from online play / use of the service. Not completely stripping you of your game that you rightfully paid for. It's not like the game company would come to your door and take back a physical copy that you bought, why can they do so with digital copies? thumb.gif

Why should it be yours? Who's to say that, all you base that on is your ethical stance.

To be honest, games have always been licensing agreements, always. You *choose* to pay for that licensing agreement. Since you *chose*, then the game shouldn't be yours to own!

On a more sensible point though, there would be some downsides to the full ownership of media. It would legally allow the reverse engineering of software to produce cheats/pirated versions without the fear of retribution (i'm talking on a larger scale that 1 person downloading a torrent)... This in turn does two things. Firstly companies minimise investment in titles, so you get more ports, more poorly finished games. Secondly, companies have no power to ban accounts of those cheating because as there is no licensing agreement, you can do whatever you like!

So, there are advantages, but don't forget the downsides of what pure ownership.
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