Who actually owns the games we purchase on Steam?

News late last year of things like a potential widespread Steam hack and a frustrating Skyrim “patch” that just seemed create phony DRM for PC gamers gave rise to some suspicion of Valve’s innovative and ubiquitous platform. Rock, Paper, Shotgun takes this concern one step further in an alarming and provocative story about a man and his disappearing Steam library:

Once again [this] drives home a crucial thing to understand. You do not own your games. Whether bought through Steam, Origin, or any other digital download service that requires a live account to play them, you are at best renting those games, with no guarantee that you’ll be able to continue to do so. And those bans can be issued without a stated or proven reason – it’s in the agreements you click “Agree” to when you sign up an account, or buy a new game.

A question comes to mind immediately: is this really legal? And perhaps even more troubling is the fact that nobody seems to really know:

Steam isn’t a publisher, it’s a shop. This is the equivalent of being suspected of shoplifting from a GAME/GameStop, and having an employee come to your house and remove your entire gaming collection from your shelves. Individual publishers of the purchased games aren’t consulted for a Steam ban. This is Valve overriding all those individual licenses with their own, and removing access to your purchased goods. And, despite there being no legal position yet known, that doesn’t seem right at all.

Ditto, RPS.

Yannick LeJacq

Note: The folks at RPS say in their story that they contacted Valve several times regarding this story to no response. We’ll keep an eye on any updates as they become available.

[via RPS]