Steam proves we dont own the games we buy

first_imgFor the most part, using Steam to purchase your PC games comes with a number of advantages over boxed copies. Your games are available from multiple machines with a login, the horrible disc DRM is usually not present, the prices can be cheaper, there’s no discs to lose or stop working, and you get a bunch of community features and automatic patching thrown in.However, a recent decision to ban a user account has reminded us all we don’t technically own the games bought through the service. If your account is banned, you can’t login and play your games. All that money you spent on tens, or even hundreds of titles doesn’t count for anything.The example that proves this is the story of a Russian gamer who goes by the name of gimperial. He has a Steam account with over 250 games stored on it that he paid for legitimately, spending over $1,500 purchasing them. However, Steam decided to ban his account for a terms of service violation. The problem is, they wouldn’t tell him what rule had been broken, and Steam’s support service refused to respond to his tickets after initially confirming the ban. Steam’s general rule is not to tell gamers why their account has been banned. So, as Steam does not have phone support, if you can’t get responses to emails and forum posts, there is nothing you can do other than hire a lawyer.In this case gimperial managed to get his account reinstated, but only after Rock, Paper Shotgun highlighted his case and made waves. And gimperial still doesn’t know what he did wrong. The only rule he broke was gifting games for cash, but Steam didn’t know he was doing that and confirmed to him that wasn’t the reason for the ban.This example highlights two things: Steam’s customer service team is less than great, and we don’t really own anything bought through the service. But that’s part of a wider issue: anything that is controlled through an online account and needs a login to play is governed by the company providing that login. If they ban you, or they cease to function as a service for whatever reason, your paid-for digital content may no longer be accessible. Megaupload users know exactly how that feels.Online services of all forms can counteract this by offering exports for your data. However, while that may work for cloud based email, online storage and backups, or even applications, at the moment it isn’t an option for digital games. Your purchases remain tied to the service unless, like in the case of the Humble Indie Bundles and GOG, you get to download the games outright without DRM attached and without a login required to play them.More at Rock, Paper Shotgunlast_img read more