Half-Life developer Valve could be facing legal action over claims that the user agreement policy of its online download platform, Steam, is unfair to customers.
A German user advocacy group, Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V, or VZBV, has argued that Steam's recently changed user policy is "unfair" as it gives users no option but to click "Accept". Clicking "Cancel" means customers cannot access their Steam accounts.
VSBV has given Valve until 10 October to resolve this issue, after which time it will pursue legal action in court.
In the EU, players who legally download digital content, such as the games purchased via Steam, are permitted to resell that content, under a law introduced in July of this year:
The EU ruling states:
"Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy - tangible or intangible - and at the same time concludes, in return from payment of a fee, a license agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that right holder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right.
"Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the license agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy."
The full ruling can be read here.
IBTimes UK has received the following statement from VZBV:
"The Project "Consumer Rights in the Digital World" criticises the general approach of many gaming platforms to bind consumers of a certain product to an online platform that restrict their rights as a consumer. The registration process makes it impossible for users to resell games after they have registered on a platform without losing the personal account.
"We are very concerned about the policy of some companies such as Valve, Blizzard or Facebook, that force their users to accept new Terms of Service that limit their rights as consumers, especially when it comes to privacy related issues. The case of Valve is from our point of view very problematic, because users that do not accept the new Terms of Service run the risk of losing their games. The products they bought might become useless without access to the Steam platform
"Our project also took legal action against Blizzard because of a similar case. The company forces users to register an account on battle.net without informing the consumer properly about this before the purchase. For consumers it is really problematic that they are no longer able to resell games, although they paid money for these products."