Sony isn’t the only gaming company trying to prevent its users from filing class action lawsuits. Valve has decided to join those ranks with its own updated Steam Subscriber Agreement. The updated agreement covers several changes, but the most important is the new requirement for users to bring individual claims only against Valve. No more class action claims.
Valve explains that it’s been watching the debates going on amongst communities regarding other companies’ decisions to build requirements against class action suits into their agreements (such as Sony). The company believes that such requirements will ultimately benefit the user and Valve. Here’s part of Valve’s explanation:
“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.”
Well, at least Valve will reimburse its customers. However, individual claims suits are such a hassle and as a result people probably won’t file them as often. This is probably part of Valve’s plan. Valve goes on,
“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.”
So that’s Valve’s defense: class action suits are costly and rarely result in benefits to those participating in them (except the lawyers of course). Yet sometimes, like the recent decision regarding EA’s exclusivity contracts for the NCAA and Madden football franchises, class action suits are beneficial. What do you think?