Steam EULA update stops class-action lawsuits
Valve has announced on their Steampowered Blog that the Steam Subscriber Agreement has been updated, and in effect they join Sony as well as a couple of other companies with a clause that prohibits class-action lawsuits.
They claim class action lawsuits do not really add much benefit for individual users, so they prohibit that but instead do offer a new dispute resolution process and allow arbitration or small claims court for individual cases. The official word:
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.
Most significant to the new dispute resolution terms is that customers may now only bring individual claims, not class action claims. 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
Unlike in the US, class-action lawsuits are rare in Europe and from what I read, it seems Valve is more in line with how things are being settled over here.
In fact, the notion that Valve will reimburse the costs related to an individual case regardless of the arbitrator’s decision is something rather unique. Normally it’s standard practise that the “losing” party has to pay for all costs.
Personally I think this isn’t such a bad update, seen from a worldwide perspective, and favors sensible thought over mass hysteria ramped up by hungry lawyers. But I don’t live in the US of course