Do you even have an idea about how much money was spent on your Steam account? Try to estimate the amount, even if it is approximate - it will be useful to remember it, because today we will talk about it. If you, as I think, have bought many different games for many years, then these costs were decent.
And despite the monetary and nostalgic value that the library can have on Steam, after your death, in accordance with the valid user agreement of Valve Corporation, your account will actually die with you. With the current state of things, you simply cannot leave your account to a close friend or loved one.
Look at Section C of the Steam Subscriber Agreement
, and you will see the following paragraph there:
Simply put, this means that without the explicit permission of Valve, you cannot simply transfer your Steam account to another person. Even if you write in a will that you want this, without such permission this condition will not be fulfilled after death. This week I contacted a lawyer who specializes in the video game industry to confirm this fact.
“The position of Steam is that you cannot transfer an account,” explained Alex Tutti, partner of Sheridans Law Firm. “And this position is common for almost everyone who licenses software. They also say that this issue is solved individually, depending on the specific case. If someone dies before making a transfer decision, they consider evidence of death and the existence of legal rights. I know that Facebook, for example, allows people to sign in and turn the page into a “memory page” so that it can be managed according to different licensing rules. But as for Steam, I don’t know cases when someone managed to get a deceased person’s account and continue using it. ”
This scheme is not unique to Valve and Steam. There are very similar conditions and restrictions in the rules of the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, or even in non-game stores - iTunes and Amazon Kindle Store.
The problem with these digital libraries for end users is that when we buy digital games or software, we actually buy a license for this content. The terms and conditions with which we agree to the purchase, it is stated that these licenses can be revoked if we violate our part of the transaction, which includes a withdrawal of ownership of our accounts, even after death.
Most likely, this situation will continue until someone forces to make changes to the legislation. But do not really hope for it.
“Until someone introduces digital copyright laws that state that the rights to the materials and intellectual property you have licensed that you bought during your life are actually similar to tenure, which means you have the right on their transfer, then no one will do it, ”says Tutti.
But wait, let's give Valve his due here. Doesn't the company say that it could potentially transfer a Steam account from one person to another if permission is obtained?
If I were to die tomorrow, I would like to transfer my Steam account to my good friend and colleague Christian Donlan. I know that he was not able to play the Total War series of games, and I think he would have liked my collection.
So, let's say I would have written a will in which I set out my will if I left. All I have to do is let Valve give him the green light.
But how simple is this process? I turned again to the official Steam support page, and, to my surprise, there is no section for users planning to write their last will and testament. Hm So how should I do this?
There is a problem, isn't it? Of course, it's great that there is an exception in the conditions that allows you to ask Valve for permission. But without any supporting infrastructure, this feature is not particularly useful. I tried to send my request through the support page not related to this topic and after a couple of days I received the following reply:
“Hello Chris, transfer of accounts and Steam licenses is not allowed. The Steam Support Team cannot grant you permission to modify this condition. Nor can we assist you regarding your will and the steps to be taken in the event of your death. Thanks for using Steam,
Thank you, Thor. And it looks like I'm sorry, Donlan.Disappointed Donlan.
I suspect that someone in Valve can answer this question, someone who is able to give me the necessary permission. But how, for God's sake, can I contact this person, whoever he is? If you think realistic, then nothing.
That is, this agreement, which we have concluded with digital stores, already seems outdated. And this problem will not be solved by itself. Modern Steam users will continue to grow old, and at some point it will inevitably have to face it.
“I think they should definitely hurry,” says Tutti. “I also think that they should keep up with a more practical reason - people will leave, leaving their passwords in their wills. Stores may find themselves in a situation where their conditions will not reflect the reality in which they are located. Once they are in this situation, they will look a bit redundant. ”
“If everyone ignores the rules of the agreements, then these rules have no effect. If you are not going to do anything about it, then perhaps they should not be applied at all. ”
So everything must change, it is obvious. But even despite the fact that for a company like Valve, it will be a winning PR move just to say: “Guys, do not worry, we will allow you to transfer ownership of accounts after death”, everything is not so simple. For this to happen, Valve needs to change the contracts that the company has with the publishers of the products it sells. If we need someone, my friends, this is a hero. We need Bruce Willis.
At the end of 2012, a very strange story
: Bruce Willis wondered what would happen to his extensive iTunes library after his death. Moreover, it was rumored that he was preparing a lawsuit against Apple, so that the company would allow his daughters to leave an account after death.
It turned out that this story was a duck, albeit a pity, because it raises a very fair question. In order for these companies to change their terms and conditions, they will most likely need a serious legal battle.
“I think we should expect a change in the law based on a precedent,” says Tutti. “Someone must challenge this system and declare: this is an inheritance, and I should have the right to it.”
“As it usually happens with most changes in the digital legal world, they most often appear in the States because they are at the forefront of the law. Therefore, if Bruce Willis succeeded in changing the situation and he would have received the decision of the Californian courts, it would have been executed in other courts.
Bruce, if you read this ... we need your help, friend!
So, this is our position. Of course, in practice, you can give someone your login and password before dying, and Valve most likely will not know that you are playing from the grave. But from the point of view of the law, this should not be. This is ridiculous. If you have spent hundreds, and maybe thousands of dollars on the Steam library, it seems fair that you have the right to decide what will happen to it after you leave.
We asked Valve to comment on the current Subscriber Agreement.Illustrations and animation by Annie Sayers.