You can sign up to get a daily email of our articles, see the Mailing List page!
Support us on Patreon to keep GamingOnLinux alive. This ensures we have no timed articles and no paywalls. Just good, fresh content! Alternatively, you can donate through Paypal, Flattr and Liberapay.!

Game developer revokes a user's Steam key after negative review

Posted by , | Views: 146,099

Here's a case of how to definitely not deal with getting negative feedback. A developer of Depth of Extinction revoked a user's key after a negative review. Update: A statement from the developer.

Depth of Extinction is a game that went through itch's "First Access" program where they sold limited amounts of keys across various rounds. Like a lot of games that start off on itch.io, the developer promised a Steam key when the game makes into onto Valve's store. So to make matters worse, this was a user who helped fund them a little before the wider release.

You can see the Steam forum post here where the user talks about it, which is now locked by the developer which was made after they put up this user review on Steam. Looking at the short review, they're not even saying all that much and it sounds like a pretty honest post as well as remaining quite polite with their negative thoughts about it.

The reply the developer sent to the user, is a great example of how to not respond to players of your game who dislike certain aspects of it:

Sorry about that, but I thought I you weren't interested in playing the game. I would have loved to get your feedback during the First Access but I didn't see anything from you until the Steam review, which was a little confusing. I really don't see how you saw enough of the current version of the game to make the judgement call you did there since we made massive changes in the last few months that were all just on Steam.

I can get you another key if you are interested in playing more and perhaps providing some feedback on how we can improve the game.

As polite as the developer reply may seem, how could they have thought this would be a good idea? They did also apologise in a later post after. Since I actually quite like the game, it also stings a bit to see a developer I also supported do something like this. Thankfully, the situation is now resolved and the user does have access to it on Steam once again. Honestly though, I'm a little in shock that doing something like this would ever cross someone's mind.

I've given plenty of negative reviews in my time here and on Steam itself, I've later changed my mind on it especially in times when there's been a patch to improve things and this user could have done the same but that's not the point. This feels like an attempt to silence negative feedback to me, it doesn't sit right at all.

It does also bring up some interesting questions about how easy it is for developers to remove peoples access to their games. While it's a system that can help developers in certain situations, it's also a system that is quite obviously open to a bit of abuse. I do have to wonder what Valve think about this as well, so I've reached out to them for a comment and I will update this if they reply.

This does make another interesting case for DRM free games outside of Steam, since a developer can't just take away your ability to play it. While a DRM free store could remove the game from you, you're still able to fully back it up yourself.

Hat tip to madpinger for the info.

29 Likes, Who?
We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. We are currently affiliated with GOG and Humble Store. See more information here.
80 comments
Page: «8/8
  Go to:

Kristian 21 October 2018 at 2:30 pm UTC
"What you're arguing for, that a license can be enforceably terminated for modifying a personal instance of a GPL software,"

It has been a while since I read GPLv2, but the GPLv3 explicitly allows this.
DrMcCoy 21 October 2018 at 2:39 pm UTC
DelicieuxzWhat you're arguing for, that a license can be enforceably terminated for modifying a personal instance of a GPL software

As soon as you distribute the software, binary or source, in any form, commercially or non-commercially, the GPL applies to you. In the case of the AGPL, providing an online service also counts as distributing the software.

As long as the modified software doesn't leave your own personal hardware, no foul. If you give it to a friend, bam, the GPL applies. You upload the source to Github, blam, the GPL applies.

And if you violate the GPL, the license is forfeit, and you can't use the software at all anymore. (The details here, exactly when that happens and when you're in good standing again, differs between the GPLv2 and GPLv3.)

[Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.]

...Also, how the heck did a discussion about licenses start here in the article comments? O_o


Last edited by DrMcCoy at 21 October 2018 at 2:40 pm UTC
Delicieuxz 21 October 2018 at 2:45 pm UTC
poiuz
Delicieuxz[…]
I can't say if you're a troll or just uninformed. If you're just uninformed, then some basic information:
GNU General Public License 3
Copyleft and the GNU General Public License: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide

The official FAQ:
Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?
Does the GPL allow me to charge a fee for downloading the program from my distribution site?
If I distribute GPL'd software for a fee, am I required to also make it available to the public without a charge?

I'm done with this discussion, have a nice day.

Alternatively to finding a case where a person was actually acted against for modifying licensed software, you could try to find the legal understanding that prevents people from doing so.

I can think of situations where the law went the other way:

- Courts ruling that people are entitled to modify their cell-phones to access different networks, despite what the phone manufacturer claimed people had permission to do.

- The 'right to repair' ruling.

- The US and EU top courts ruling that any EULA claim that purchased licenses cannot be transferred is invalid.


And legal philosophy on what people's right to modify software should be:

https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1652&context=facpubs

Intellectual property law has historically balanced the competing interests
of the public and innovative entrepreneurs. The long accepted principle of intellectual
property law is that protection should be granted to innovators only so
far as it serves the interests of the public.203 As applied to software modification
policy, there would seem a strong public interest in permitting users to modify
software to make it more useful, as well as a strong interest in the existence of
market competition for software modification services. The intellectual property
law should recognize and accommodate these important public interests.



However, the examples I've given above are generally focused on situations where people paid for their software license, and so the first-sale doctrine applies.

In the case of GPL, as I've said:

"I don't know about GPLv3, other than to say that it doesn't involve an item which was traded for money, and so the first-sale doctrine doesn't automatically apply."

Whether that changes the conventional practice of people modifying their personal software instances without legal repercussions, I don't know. You'd have to find a case showing it successfully did in order to prove that it can.
Delicieuxz 21 October 2018 at 2:53 pm UTC
KristianWhat these GPL lawsuits and settlements are typically about is copyleft nature of the GPL. In other words the GPL prohibits people from taking the source code of a GPL work, creating a new product out of it, distributing the new product and then withholding the source code of it or releasing it under more restrictive terms.

OK, that makes sense. That's something my comments acknowledged from the start:

"The GPLv3 wording sounds to me like it's trying to prevent people from duplicating a licensed work and also from trying to get around that restriction by modifying it and distributing it then as their own work. But, prevention of distribution of modified copies is already accomplished in saying that people may not distribute the work because a distributed modified copy still counts as a distributed copy of the original work in copyright law. So, saying anything about modifying it is redundant.

...

If the GPLv3 wording is trying to make it clear to the public that modified copies still count as original copies, then it can be worded better."



DrMcCoy
DelicieuxzWhat you're arguing for, that a license can be enforceably terminated for modifying a personal instance of a GPL software

As soon as you distribute the software, binary or source, in any form, commercially or non-commercially, the GPL applies to you. In the case of the AGPL, providing an online service also counts as distributing the software.

As long as the modified software doesn't leave your own personal hardware, no foul. If you give it to a friend, bam, the GPL applies. You upload the source to Github, blam, the GPL applies.

OK, that is what I'd expect and is the standpoint I've been talking from.

The point of contention has been this comment I said:

"However, the claim of "Any attempt otherwise to... modify it is void" doesn't sound like it is true, to me. And, I wonder how the part that says "... and will automatically terminate your rights under this License" regarding a modified personal instance could be enforced. I don't think it could be."

A personal instance is not a published and distributed instance. A personal instance is the copy that a person has installed on their own device and which is for their personal usage.


Last edited by Delicieuxz at 21 October 2018 at 3:17 pm UTC
Kyrottimus 21 October 2018 at 4:40 pm UTC
Spanning centuries and political boundaries, we have this concept within most of recent human history and culture known as "Common Law" (in English-I'm well aware many other languages and cultures have similar concepts; some quite older).

The Anglo-origins of Common Law stems back to before the signing of the Magna Carta in Anglo-Saxon Britain (and feel free to correct me U.K. folks; I'm a lowly unwashed American xD). But the basics are this in two facets:

-Do everything you agree to do. (Basis of Civil Code)

-Do not encroach, infringe upon or disrupt another person's rights or legal property. (Basis of Criminal Code)

Regardless of culture, one could agree that if you exchange goods/services/coin-of-the-realm for a good or service in a mutually agreed-upon transaction, that Party B could not legally later change their minds and undo that transaction without Party A's agreement...or else that's theft, plain and simple.

People would argue: "Well he agreed upon the EULA back when he first backed the EA, etc."

Well that may be so, but you see on the bottom of every EULA that it is subject to change. Well, then one's agreement to it is also subject to change with it.

And granted, it does seem like the dev quickly saw the error of his ways, but really how is there not a check-and-balance in place to prevent this kind of abuse of power to begin with?

We could get into the whole "chain-of-custody" thing regarding how it's such huge pain-in-the-ass to prove a stolen card was used to buy a key which was then re-sold from some website to a key-bundler who then sold that package to--you get the idea--and it would be too many hoops to jump through for the dev to prove it was a stolen-card key sale. But there has to be some happy medium where they can't just revoke a key on a whim, either.

We need some kind of insurance that there will be no more "butt-hurt dev" key revocations without just cause. I'm a published author (both e-book and paperback), and I have received some negative reviews, and not once did it even occur to me that I should be able to revoke someone's access to an E-book/Kindle book due to their negative review (some obviously never got past the first page and were just spewing hate, but that's immaterial). That's utter and complete clownshoes right there for anyone to even think about going there (revoking access to legally purchased digital goods).

This goes beyond a Linux gaming issue, it's much bigger than that. I think we can solve the issue with game cartridges the size of a shoebox, try to DRM-revoke or shoplift those. That'll solve everything </sarc>


Last edited by Kyrottimus at 21 October 2018 at 4:41 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 22 October 2018 at 7:03 am UTC
tuubi
chancho_zombieMy favourite principle of common law is Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos which translates to "whoever's is the soil, it is theirs all the way to Heaven and all the way to Hell"

bluntly putting it: If you f**ck with land property we will drink your blood and take your soul.
I'm pretty sure the principle refers to the land owner's rights to the air above and the ground below their plot. I like your dramatic interpretation though.
Of course many other laws do not agree with that principle of common law. I'm pretty sure that in Canada, mineral rights are/can be separated from general land ownership, even though we are a country which has sort of inherited the British common law. And I'm pretty sure most jurisdictions do not allow most private property owners to stop planes from overflying their property; things would be tough for the airline industry otherwise.
tuubi 22 October 2018 at 7:37 am UTC
Purple Library Guy
tuubi
chancho_zombieMy favourite principle of common law is Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos which translates to "whoever's is the soil, it is theirs all the way to Heaven and all the way to Hell"

bluntly putting it: If you f**ck with land property we will drink your blood and take your soul.
I'm pretty sure the principle refers to the land owner's rights to the air above and the ground below their plot. I like your dramatic interpretation though.
Of course many other laws do not agree with that principle of common law. I'm pretty sure that in Canada, mineral rights are/can be separated from general land ownership, even though we are a country which has sort of inherited the British common law. And I'm pretty sure most jurisdictions do not allow most private property owners to stop planes from overflying their property; things would be tough for the airline industry otherwise.
I read that the phrase originates with the Roman lawyer Accursius in the thirteenth century. I'd assume aircraft weren't much of a concern back then.
Eike 22 October 2018 at 7:47 am UTC
tuubiI read that the phrase originates with the Roman lawyer Accursius in the thirteenth century. I'd assume aircraft weren't much of a concern back then.

For this very reason, I wonder what the rights towards heaven were worth back then...
jens 22 October 2018 at 6:37 pm UTC
Eike
tuubiI read that the phrase originates with the Roman lawyer Accursius in the thirteenth century. I'd assume aircraft weren't much of a concern back then.

For this very reason, I wonder what the rights towards heaven were worth back then...

I could imagine to have the rights to hunt everything that walks and flies above each ground.
Cyba.Cowboy 22 October 2018 at 9:55 pm UTC
Purple Library GuyOf course many other laws do not agree with that principle of common law. I'm pretty sure that in Canada, mineral rights are/can be separated from general land ownership, even though we are a country which has sort of inherited the British common law. And I'm pretty sure most jurisdictions do not allow most private property owners to stop planes from overflying their property; things would be tough for the airline industry otherwise.

I actually looked this up a couple of months ago out of curiosity and mineral ownership only applies in Australia if you bought your property before a certain year (sometime in the 1960s, if I remember correctly); furthermore, if the property is passed from one family member to another, the latter is subject to the current laws (i.e. the Crown has exclusive rights to any minerals under your land). Frustratingly, I cannot find the specific legal reference at this time, and I really can't be be bothered digging deep for it just to prove a point - but there's plenty of easily located discussions regarding this.

With regards to upwards, it gets a little more complicated... The general rule is that you own high enough that you can have a "reasonable expectation of privacy"; most areas in Australia have state or local laws which prevent you from building your own private version of Isengard though, before anyone gets excited.

Of course ultimately, you only purchase the right to use the land in Australia (rather than "pure" ownership in the traditional sense) and there are countless laws under which the Government can revoke this right at their discretion... But that's a whole other discussion.


Last edited by Cyba.Cowboy at 22 October 2018 at 9:58 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
  Go to:
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on Patreon or Liberapay. We have no adverts, no paywalls, no timed exclusive articles. Just good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

We also accept Paypal donations and subscriptions! If you already are, thank you!

Due to spam you need to Register and Login to comment.


Or login with...

Livestreams & Videos
Community Livestreams
  • Everspace - Live. Fight. Die. Repeat.
  • Date:
See more!
Popular this week
View by Category
Contact
Latest Comments
Latest Forum Posts