Steam – The Saga of Responsibility

Knowing where your responsibilities start and other people’s end can be difficult.

And Steam have shown how difficult it is to find the balance as they have decided not to take responsibility for those placing content on the site.

While morally, some would argue not policing their site as a bad thing, I can see the reasons behind Steam doing this.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t entirely agree with Steam’s decision, while I can see some merits and benefits, there are some drawbacks.

Firstly, they can’t shake any legal obligations so if they legally need to do something they will but here’s there first advantage; they don’t have to act morally and so they are not vulnerable to pressure groups.  If they can’t put pressure on morally, they will have to try legally and in America, they have 1st Amendment rights.

Secondly, it allows them to focus on things that will be beneficial.  If dealing with a moral issue, it isn’t clear cut and you can argue for hours with a group of four or five people.  If this doesn’t happen then those four or five people can do something else that benefits everyone.

Thirdly, there is a free market element; if people don’t like a game they can choose not to buy it.  If people do not like the concept of the game, they can spread the word and reduce the number of people wanting to buy the game hence reducing the profits gained from it.

Finally if they do act, it will not be from a moral standpoint, but from a legal one which can then be challenged without retribution from the fan base.  If they need to ban something because it’s illegal then the developers know not to put something illegal and the fan base will not turn on them but the lawmakers.  At the same time if a developer thinks Steam made a wrong call, they can challenge it under law whereas a moral decision can’t be challenged in law.

This is a difficult one, on one hand it protects developers and users in the sense that developers only have to follow laws and games you’ve bought can’t be lost through pressure groups respectively.  On the other it doesn’t solve the overflow of Asset Flips and bad games…

However if the Asset Flips were funding something illegal then Steam would have no choice but to act as the rules are much more transparent, maybe this is their way of getting rid of Asset Flips; by focusing on taking them down legally… nah!


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