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Doing the rounds right now is a post from Valve's Steam support (thanks Ars), when a user asked about what would happen to their Steam account when they died and it's not great news for anyone hoping to pass on your Steam account.

This comes from a post on Resetera, where the user asked if a Steam account could be transferred via a will. The Steam support staff member replied to note very clearly Steam accounts are plain and simply "non-transferable".

It's not exactly something new, or surprising, given that Steam's Subscriber Agreement clearly notes "You may not reveal, share or otherwise allow others to use your password or Account except as otherwise specifically authorized by Valve.". 

Still, nothing actually technically stops you just writing down your details for someone and leaving it in a safe space, it's not like Valve actually go and confirm your identity. You also have the newer Family Sharing system, so someone could quickly go in and share it to your personal account and get most of the games.

It's also another reminder that on Steam, you don't own any games on it at all. Once again, as per the Subscriber Agreement, "Content and Services are licensed, not sold" and your "license confers no title or ownership in the Content and Services". 

This will be the same across nearly all web stores that offer digital products you "buy", they're not yours. Epic Games Store is exactly the same as per their EULA which notes "All rights granted to you under this Agreement are granted by express license only and not by sale". Ubisoft are exactly the same in their terms as well noting "we grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensed, non-commercial and personal license". Think GOG are any better? They're not, as per GOG's agreement "Your GOG account and GOG content are personal to you and cannot be shared with, sold, gifted or transferred to anyone else." and they make it clear multiple times you get a license again, not ownership of anything sold.

If you go through most other places, they all use similar language and we're not talking just game stores here but anywhere you digitally purchase movies, TV series and so on. You get the idea. You might be buying the item, but you have no ownernship at all.

Really, the only time this will change is when physical media properly dies off and people cause enough of a fuss that governments and legal bodies around the world put in new laws around digital ownership, which is not likely for a long time.

So, you probably should go and clear that backlog of games you've built up.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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55 comments
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tmtvl May 28
Quoting: dpanterI have a feeling they cannot prohibit this in Sweden... but I have another solution, just live forever. Simple un-death hax.

Just a simple iddqd, huh? That's cheating, though, I don't wanna be a cheater...
Lachu May 28
It is not related only to software without physical medium. Software "sold" on CD have also same restrictions. For example in License of Windows 10 exist text told, the software is not sold, but licensed. Microsoft was trying to put people to jail for sale of used Windows copy, but EU decided MS do it wrong and allow people to sold used licenses of Windows. Of course, MS make illegal and makes people going to jail for other stuff, like watching movies or listening music under non-window or non-mac, but this time is over also. Examples: I read about student, who was deny from University for watching movies under Linux - of course, in USA.
_wojtek May 28
I do hope that the EU would handle that...
bisbyx May 28
QuoteThe Steam support staff member replied

In the past, Steam support has answered things differently depending on which rep you get. Has this actually been confirmed with Steam in other ways, or are all the sources "Steam support said." ?
melkemind May 28
As a wise man once said, "If buying isn't owning, then piracy isn't stealing."
bonkmaykr May 28
None of this is news. There have been Youtubers and stuff reporting about this every once in a while since years ago. It is in the SSA for new Steam accounts and the license for many of the games that you purchase that they are legally non-transferable. While this is not usually enforced in practice, Valve openly admits and has proven in the past that they will ban people who share accounts. This is part of the reason why the new family sharing system was introduced in the Steam Client Beta.

If you were concerned about maintaining the legal right to transfer your Steam account, you should not have made a Steam account, simple as. Sharing your games with someone is not rendered impossible by this because many Steam games do not have any DRM, some of those without DRM don't even tie into Steam at all, and DRM will be brokenーas for the sharing of the account itself I can't imagine why you would want to do that for any practical reason when you can just trade all of your items off anyway. Sentimental value is the only real justification, and Valve probably isn't going to accuse you of stealing an account because your deceased friend gave it to you as a memento.

TL:DR; this is not a big deal whatsoever. Go home
Okay, so "intellectual property" can't be inherited. Great, that means everything can enter the public domain the moment the original author dies, and not this ridiculous "70 years after they die" nonsense, right?

Hold on, I'm being told that publishers say the rules don't apply to them.
Linux_Rocks May 28
I'm just gonna give whoever my password anyways. How the fuck are they gonna know I'm dead outside of me going Leon Czolgosz on a politician or Elon Musk?

My mental state being where it's been the past several years. It's crossed my mind on what I'm gonna do with my game stuff, and it's either going to friends or for my sister to sell. Physical or account passwords. I don't know what my future holds, like everyone else. But whether it be here, going to the West Bank and joining the PFLP in the PLO, going to Kurdistan to join the PKK, or going to Chiapas state in southern Mexico to join the Zapatistas. I already know who's getting what. lol
Soulprayer May 28
QuoteSo, you probably should go and clear that backlog of games you've built up.
Yep, this June i get 45y old and I've categorised my games recently to get through my pile of shame.
EagleDelta May 28
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: NyxWouldn't you just use steam family sharing and pass it down that way.
They can't login to the account but most of your library is still kind of passed on ?
This is mentioned in the article. But, that would require someone to share before they die. And whoever wants the account passed on may not have it shared, that doesn't really solve the issue at hand, and not all games are available via family sharing.

Part of me has a feeling that this entire subject is a legal quagmire as a whole. Under the law in many places, ownership is shared by a married couple and that cannot be taken away by some license agreement. But also, Valve likely has their own legal quagmire to deal with as it relates to selling license keys to other developers' software. As in, Valve likely doesn't have the legal power to transfer licenses to another person after death. This is something that would likely have to be resolved in court..... ESPECIALLY if the deceased was a spouse and passing ownership of account to said spouse may not be something that can be legally avoided.
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