Category: valve

Valve is not your friend, and Steam is not healthy for gaming:

Fourteen years after Half-Life 2 — a game, by the way, that will likely never see a sequel unless it can be bundled with another leverageable platform — Good Guy Valve has smiled and exploited its way to a position of astonishing power and influence.

Even on an organizational level, Good Guy Valve seemed like Dream Guy Valve, who you would kill to work for. Their famous internal handbook “leaked” in 2012, painting a beautiful picture of a free-spirited workplace where genuine creativity and absolute, unchecked innovation bubbled out like a freshwater spring in a magical forest.

Much like the ones on their famously mobile desks, the wheels on that particularly romanticized notion appear to have fallen off. Former Valve employees have come out to slam the internal culture as being a high-school like mix of cliques and backstabbing, with another engineer saying it was “the worst experience of my life” and with desk setups similar to a “panopticon prison”. Valve was even slapped with a court case after one transgender employee alleged that her supervisor constantly referred to her as “it.”

In fact, one of her key complaints in that court case is that Valve fired her after she raised concerns that the company was exploiting people who loved their products, in order to provide translation services for free. Sound familiar?

Valve is not your friend, and Steam is not healthy for gaming:

We all eventually discovered that our close, personal and entirely fictional relationship with Valve did not entitle us to any kind of refund on our purchases.

But it took the better part of a decade for enough people to start noticing that Steam’s refund policy wasn’t so much a “policy” as the words “eat shit and die” printed in huge size 72 font and to start raising hell about it. We were used to buying our PC games in stores, and we had recourse if they didn’t work. We could go talk to someone. Steam never provided that luxury, and it still doesn’t.

The occasional no-refund horror story was dismissed as the exception, not the rule. It didn’t cause near enough to damage the Good Guy Valve golden brand, and an incredible 11 years passed before enough people were possessed of enough indignant fury to actually complain to the authorities.

Players began noting that was Valve was doing was wildly illegal, pointing out quite accurately that under European Union law, consumers were entitled to a refund on all purchases — even for something as simple as changing their mind.

Never one to shy away from a little thing like “breaking the law,” Good Guy Valve quickly came up with a solution: an entirely new EULA custom made for the good gamers of the European Union, which specifically acknowledges that they have a legal right to a refund … and then immediately forces them to waive it if they want to purchase the game.

Eighteen months of drama unfolded in the Australian Federal Court from 2014 through 2016, as the Washington software giant used every trick in the book to stall the ongoing, inevitably damning case against it.

Valve, backed into a corner and hissing like a cat that doesn’t want to go to the vet, pulled out all the stops to avoid providing the required financial information — to the point where a seemingly infuriated and exasperated Judge Edelman blasted Valve for “overkill” and issued the most politely worded legalese version of “go to hell” that anybody has ever committed to paper.