Steam does not permit its users to resell games they no longer want, and even forbids the transfer of Steam accounts from one person to another.
Now they are getting sued over this.
The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) has sued computer game distributor Valve because it prohibits Steam-gamers from reselling their games.
Steam users own the games they purchase and should be able to resell them when they want to, just like owners of traditional card or board games can, said Carola Elbrecht, project manager for consumer rights in the digital world at the VZVB, on Thursday. But while those traditional game owners can resell their games whenever they like, Steam users often cannot, she said.
In theory, a Steam user could download a game, burn it on a CD and resell it, she said. In most cases, though, buyers wouldn't be able to play the game they purchased because the games are linked to a user account and without the key for that specific account, online only games are not playable, she said.
Because Valve forbids its users to sell or transfer their accounts to another person, the exchange of games that can only be played online is impossible, she said. This means that a Steam user only partially owns games, Elbrecht said. "If I pay the full price for a game, then why am I not allowed to do with it what I want," she added.
Valve was warned in September by the VZVB to change this practice, but the company did not comply with the federation's demands. Therefore, the federation sued the company in the District Court of Berlin on Wednesday.
Valve did not respond to a request for comment.