Valve, the makers of popular video game series like Portal, Left 4 Dead, Half-Life, and Team Fortress, as well as the operators of the Steam online marketplace for games, have surprised fans this week by changing the Steam terms of service to effectively pre-empt any class-action lawsuits by forcing customers into mandatory binding arbitration.
“It’s clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers,” explained Valve in a statement. “In far too many cases however, class actions don’t provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims…
“Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.”
This move puts Valve — whose biggest offense until this point has been not telling the public if/when there will ever be a Half-Life 3 — in the same binding arbitration boat as many of the businesses that contend every year for Worst Company In America.