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Over recent years I have been a PC gamer so pretty much every purchase has to be digital-only (helped by the fact that I have fast broadband). Probably three-quarters of my games I get through Steam, though I often get Steam codes from cheaper sources such as CDKeys or G2A so my money doesn’t always go directly via Valve. As I mostly get everything when it is on offer I generally get great value and enjoy the easy storage/access to my games, so I have definitely bought into digital-only.

But… what if Valve and Steam go belly up in the future? At the moment we tend to think of Steam as being as constant as death and taxes, as the business seems rock steady but these things can change. Steam have competition from EA Origin, Uplay, etc. but it seems that they don’t impact Steam too much. However Epic has entered the market and who can say that some other big tech firms with money to burn couldn’t try the discounted loss leader approach to get a decent share of the market in the coming years, causing problems for Valve’s cashflow.

My worry is that at some point in the future, access to all the games I ‘own’ could disappear if my supplier’s game platform ceased. This is equally true for PC gaming, console gaming or any digital purchases.

That access could disappear as well if my supplier of choice felt that I had broken their terms and conditions and blocked my account. I would stress that in this instance I am talking about digital retailers in general rather than any one company. I would be happy to be corrected but it seems that if your supplier blocks you, you often have very little (or no) right of appeal… please take your coat at the door on the way out of the building.

I don’t exactly lose sleep over this issue but I do worry that digital ownership is effectively long term renting and means that someday I could lose a large chunk of my games library and have very little I could do about it. Out of general curiosity it would be interesting to hear from somebody more knowledgeable than me about what people’s rights are with digital retailers especially if there were a seismic event like Valve going out of business.
fman00

GC: As we understand it you have it pretty much right, although it depends on the company and the issues have rarely been tested. We’re not sure anyone knows exactly what would happen if a company the size of Valve went down.





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