Author Topic: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau  (Read 7384 times)

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
The "it doesn't work with my machine" is in my opinion a valid complaint.  If Steam or Origin or any other client is on one or more computers, and if its granted access to know the specifications of your computer(s), it should also be able to ascertain whether the computer will match the minimum requirements.  Maybe that's not how the client works, but if a service is going to require installing an invasive client to monitor your gameplay, it should also come with features like the above to benefit the consumer.  Of course there may be many times when a game will not work despite meeting the minimum requirements.

Also the idea that Steam isn't a "store" in my mind is not all that relevant.  It's simply an argument that moves Steam away from an identifiable entity to something more nebulous. If the claim that "Steam has this responsibility to this customers" is countered by "Steam isn't a store, so it's responsibilities are different", then the question becomes what is it?  Any company selling products or services has legal obligations to the consumer. When the law talks about product liability for unsafe products, the law often doesn't seem to differentiate between manufacturer, distributor or storefront.  So if Steam is a "distributor" in the legal sense, then their obligation to the consumer might be unchanged, or in the legal sense it may be for all intents and purposes be considered a "store" in the same way that Walmart or any other B&M is.

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
I think you'd need to prove a specific software-centric problem with working, so if, for example, it didn't work on any computer with an AMD graphics card, or multiple players whose computers were above minimum spec were still unable to play the game that's a cause for concern, so it depends, I think, on volume.

To me, it's similar to a online mail order system, most mail-order stores don't 'buy' stock until it is ordered, the difference is that the delivery on Steam is digital, rather than postal, and it's really not that much of a difference.

 

Offline Scotty

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
If I buy a cutting edge new game and try to play it on a six year old laptop, when it doesn't work it's my own damn fault.  Steam shouldn't be held accountable to that.

If I buy a cutting edge new game and try to play it on a brand new desktop, when it doesn't work because of a particularly component or driver in use, that's something Steam should be accountable for.

 

Offline Droid803

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
1. Any company selling products or services has legal obligations to the consumer.
2. When the law talks about product liability for unsafe products, the law often doesn't seem to differentiate between manufacturer, distributor or storefront.

Alright this is kind of a tangent but I'll bite, didn't change any wording, just chopped it up to make the propositions clearer.
1. True! Any company selling products or services has (some) legal obligations to the consumer.
2. False! When the law talks about product liability for unsafe products, the law DOES differentiate between manufacturer, distributor or storefront.

There is quite some difference in treatment for unsafe products between the storefront and the manufacturer. In many cases storefronts are entitled to rely on the manufacturer that each individual item they're is safe (as long as vast majority of the instance of the item is in fact safe). You can't bring a tort action against the store that sold you a pair of underwear out of a box that gave you a rash because that one pair happened to have some chemical spilled on it in the factory. It is quite unreasonable to expect them to try on all the product they stock -plus most people don't want to buy underwear that has been tried on anyway! - would you? Plus, it's not likely that the storefront itself has any of the technical expertise, or specialized equipment required or whatnot to carry out quality control (both of which the manufacturer would likely have). They're entirely entitled to rely on the manufacturer taking the necessary steps to have QC and ensure their products aren't defective.

In these cases, the manufacturer would be liable for their negligence in shipping a defective product - because presumably, it would have had to pass the factory's internal QC test; but not necessarily the store selling it - you don't expect them to open up each box of underwear that the manufacturer ships them and test every single one to make sure they don't have chemical on it; you can see how this is impractical. Bottom line here is that there is a distinction, mostly based on the capacity of each of the parties, their proximity with the product, in what are reasonable steps for them in discharging their legal obligations towards consumers.

So what you should ask is: Is Valve equipped to test and make sure that every single game they allow to be sold through their distribution service work flawlessly on every imaginable system that could possibly install their client? Is that even something realistic to expect them to do - is that even a workable business model? Or is that onus better placed on the individual game developers themselves who built the damn games and know how they've been coded, what resources the games use, and hold them to make their minimum requirements accurate?

Clearly, Valve should be responsible for making sure the client itself works on all systems that meet the minimum requirements, and that the client isn't causative of any of the issues experienced, but outside of that, I'm of the persuasion that Valve/Steam should have no responsibility over the quality of the games being sold over it. If it's not working, but it's not because of the Steam client, it's has nothing to do with Valve/Steam and everything to do with the publisher/developer.

With respect to issues not causally related in this way, however, I find that as a matter of policy, as a distributor/store/marketplace, they don't have to act as a second-round of testing for the game publisher/developers. If you expect the store to do that testing, then that just completely disincentivizes game developers from running meaningful beta tests and bughunts since well, the store is going to act as your "beta testers" for you. Furthermore, Valve/Steam isn't in a good position to address these issues even. They're not in a position to rectify the underlying problems. The developer has the source code - they're the ones that can put out a patch and fix things. You could argue that they could simply refund you the product, but you've already put on the underwear. Why do people have this feeling that they're entitled to returns/refunds? Stores offer such services out of courtesy. There is no requirement for them to do it. There are plenty of stores, online or offline, which do not accept returns or refunds under any circumstances, often for good reason. Some stores might just give you your money back out of courtesy, but I'd hardly expect them to as a default seeing as they've done nothing wrong (the manufacturer did, not the store), and the other 5 pairs in the box are fine anyway.

Just try getting a refund on used underwear. Good luck, by the way. You'll probably need it.

Honestly, it feels like people are throwing a hissyfit because they bought a ****ty game, or have a ****ty PC, and can't get their money back. Reading reviews is too hard i like playing games on a 15-year old potato computer **** you everything has to work for me or my money back. Especially since they're going after the vendor and not what may very well be the real source of your issues...

Quote
"On June 25, 2013, BBB recognized a pattern of complaints from consumers regarding product, service and customer service issues. Consumers allege the games they purchase from Valve Corporation or Steam malfunction, do not work or have an invalid CD key. Consumers also claim the company blocks users from accessing their library of games. Consumers further allege they attempt to contact the company for assistance, but Valve Corporation fails to correct the gaming issues, does not correct credit card charges or issue a refund, or does not respond at all.

Legitimate complaints bolded
Illegitimate complaints striked out
Possibly legitimate complaints italicized (malfunctioning/not working/failure to fix MAY be valid if it is caused by interaction with the client, and not inherent to the game/system configuration)
(´・ω・`)
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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
In these cases, the manufacturer would be liable for their negligence in shipping a defective product - because presumably, it would have had to pass the factory's internal QC test; but not necessarily the store selling it - you don't expect them to open up each box of underwear that the manufacturer ships them and test every single one to make sure they don't have chemical on it; you can see how this is impractical. Bottom line here is that there is a distinction, mostly based on the capacity of each of the parties, their proximity with the product, in what are reasonable steps for them in discharging their legal obligations towards consumers.

Yet in government defined webpages, the responsbilities of all three branches are often lumped into a single heading, such as:
https://www.gov.uk/product-liability-and-safety-law

The main responsibility falls on the manufacturer, but the stores and distributors have responsibility as well.

So what you should ask is: Is Valve equipped to test and make sure that every single game they allow to be sold through their distribution service work flawlessly on every imaginable system that could possibly install their client? Is that even something realistic to expect them to do - is that even a workable business model? Or is that onus better placed on the individual game developers themselves who built the damn games and know how they've been coded, what resources the games use, and hold them to make their minimum requirements accurate?

That's a ridiculous question, because rather than ask should Valve have quality assurance, you ask should Valve have perfect omniscient quality assurance.
A company doesn't get an F grade by having imperfect customer relations, they get an F grade by having **** poor customer relations.

Remember that Electronic Arts was voted worst company in america, two years in a row, yet despite that its grade from the Better Business Bureau is an A+. What does that say?

Clearly, Valve should be responsible for making sure the client itself works on all systems that meet the minimum requirements, and that the client isn't causative of any of the issues experienced, but outside of that, I'm of the persuasion that Valve/Steam should have no responsibility over the quality of the games being sold over it. If it's not working, but it's not because of the Steam client, it's has nothing to do with Valve/Steam and everything to do with the publisher/developer.

So if someone creates a game that is in fact a crypto virus which encrypts people's computers and holds their data hostage and Valve sells it through Steam are they responsible? Because you're basically waiving all responsibility whatsoever and I fundamentally disagree with that.


With respect to issues not causally related in this way, however, I find that as a matter of policy, as a distributor/store/marketplace, they don't have to act as a second-round of testing for the game publisher/developers. If you expect the store to do that testing, then that just completely disincentivizes game developers from running meaningful beta tests and bughunts since well, the store is going to act as your "beta testers" for you.

Valve testing a game would disincentivize people from running beta tests? - You have heard of Early access, have you not?  They have instituted a system which both disincentivizes beta testing and also rakes in the cash as well. 

You know what would legitimately make companies ensure their product is relatively bug free and stable? Denying sale on the storefront.


Furthermore, Valve/Steam isn't in a good position to address these issues even. They're not in a position to rectify the underlying problems. The developer has the source code - they're the ones that can put out a patch and fix things. You could argue that they could simply refund you the product, but you've already put on the underwear. Why do people have this feeling that they're entitled to returns/refunds? Stores offer such services out of courtesy. There is no requirement for them to do it. There are plenty of stores, online or offline, which do not accept returns or refunds under any circumstances, often for good reason. Some stores might just give you your money back out of courtesy, but I'd hardly expect them to as a default seeing as they've done nothing wrong (the manufacturer did, not the store), and the other 5 pairs in the box are fine anyway.

https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/repair-replace-refund#what-is-a-major-problem-

" When you have a major problem with a product, you have the right to ask for your choice of a replacement or refund.

"A product or good has a major problem when:

it has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it
it is unsafe
it is significantly different from the sample or description
it doesn’t do what the business said it would, or what you asked for and can’t easily be fixed.


#1 in this list could be applied to most ****ty, buggy games.
#3 would apply in many examples as well

 

Offline Droid803

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Fine. Two can play at this game.

Yet in government defined webpages, the responsbilities of all three branches are often lumped into a single heading, such as:
https://www.gov.uk/product-liability-and-safety-law

The main responsibility falls on the manufacturer, but the stores and distributors have responsibility as well.

Yes, as I've said, there are responsibilities, but the responsibilities are different and the brunt is borne by the manufacturer. That webpage says that pretty explicitly. Point?

That's a ridiculous question, because rather than ask should Valve have quality assurance, you ask should Valve have perfect omniscient quality assurance.
Well where do you draw the line then? Somewhere between "none" and "perfect", clearly. How much exactly do they have to test each game on a variety of different systems for quality assurance?

A company doesn't get an F grade by having imperfect customer relations, they get an F grade by having **** poor customer relations.

Remember that Electronic Arts was voted worst company in america, two years in a row, yet despite that its grade from the Better Business Bureau is an A+. What does that say?
Logically, yes, but here I'm discussing if that F grade was deserved in the first place.

That the rating system is not reflective of what people actually think and hence unhelpful? The only thing that's clear from those two tidbits is that the opinon of the two groups (the BBB and whoever voted for EA as the worst company) aren't in line. That perhaps calls into doubt the validity of the rating system overall more than anything else, and certainly more than showing that valve is somehow worse than "the worst company".

So if someone creates a game that is in fact a crypto virus which encrypts people's computers and holds their data hostage and Valve sells it through Steam are they responsible? Because you're basically waiving all responsibility whatsoever and I fundamentally disagree with that.

...

You know what would legitimately make companies ensure their product is relatively bug free and stable? Denying sale on the storefront.
No I'm not saying that. I'm saying that they have no responsibility over the quality of the game. It's not waiving all responsibility. If it's not actually a game at all and something malicious, then clearly they shouldn't be hosting it for sale in the first place and should take it down.

Just because a game doesn't work for some people that doesn't mean they should pull it off the store. And even if that were the case, where do you draw the line? How many bug reports is too many and you'll have to axe it off the storefront?

Valve testing a game would disincentivize people from running beta tests? - You have heard of Early access, have you not?  They have instituted a system which both disincentivizes beta testing and also rakes in the cash as well. 

You know what would legitimately make companies ensure their product is relatively bug free and stable? Denying sale on the storefront.
Early access is beta testing...which you are paying them to do for them. This is what people buying into it should understand, no?

https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/repair-replace-refund#what-is-a-major-problem-

When you have a major problem with a product, you have the right to ask for your choice of a replacement or refund.

You have the right to ask for a refund. Not the right to be granted one? But that might be me reading the provision a bit too uh, technically.
Interpreting it in the best possible way for your point, fine - one jurisdiction has made it a requirement to provide refunds when asked (and yes I know there are more). That doesn't change my point. That's definitely not the case absolutely everywhere, I see plenty of "all sales are final" and "no returns or refunds" signs around. There are arguments that can be made both in favour of having such provisions in place, and those against it. It's not a globally-agreed upon norm to hold retailers to this standard for service, after all the ghost of "caveat emptor" still floats around.

The elements of the test for faulty goods would undoubtedly be different for different jurisdictions as well. I can come up with 4-5 plausible alternatives off the top of my head to something having a problem that "would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it" which captures the same basic idea but goes to different levels. Maybe there'd be a requirement of reasonable expectations (can't demand returns of everything because i think they're all immortality potions and wouldn't have bought it if i weren't deluded into thinking everything was - which would make the other requirements actually mean something), etc.



I'm not claiming that Valve/Steam is operating a perfect model with respect to customer service here. Clearly, they can do better. There's always room for improvement. What I'm getting at is that people seem to be barking up the wrong tree, or that they want Valve/Steam to insure against anything that could possibly go wrong with the stuff they sell not working exactly as the customer expected it to. Which, they could do, and would be good for the consumer. I can understand why they don't though.

I just don't think their practices are all that bad. It's not like they're deliberately suppressing information like deleting negative reviews. You can probably find out how well something is generally going to work if you poke around the client itself looking for reviews/discussions. Read the complaints/issues. Make an informed decision before spending.

Ah **** it you made me lose an hour of sleep. This is not worth defending.
(´・ω・`)
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Offline Flipside

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
It is kind of strange, in a way, when I was young computer games were the first products ever that you couldn't return if you had opened the packaging unless there was physical damage to the disc, and could only get a replacement, not a refund. This was done in the name of anti-piracy, and despite the fact that Steam is, in and of itself, an anti-piracy measure, it's funny how that concept has managed to get itself ingrained into our psyche in just a single generation.

 

Offline Scotty

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Fine. Two can play at this game.

Two will not play at this game.  I've made my position on this type of useless argument bull**** before.  Even though I've not quoted something of yours, Akalabeth, you've clearly instigated this.  Cut it out, both of you.

 
Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
It is kind of strange, in a way, when I was young computer games were the first products ever that you couldn't return if you had opened the packaging unless there was physical damage to the disc, and could only get a replacement, not a refund. This was done in the name of anti-piracy, and despite the fact that Steam is, in and of itself, an anti-piracy measure, it's funny how that concept has managed to get itself ingrained into our psyche in just a single generation.

There are many things which have surprisingly become acceptable, even defended in as much or even less time.

Before games were released largely on working order, games would only receive one or two patches at most because it was difficult if not impossible to distribute it.

Now people pay to play incomplete games, games which are sometimes never finished.

DRM has evolved in many ways, from sort of fun where you needed to consult a code wheel, two cd-always in or oversite programs to now being tied to a client like steam or origin. From derided to defended. 

From collectable to disposable. And from backwards compatible to increasingly difficult to keep playing on newer os.

By the way if anyone likes the collectible nature of games, likes indies, and likes no DRM check out the indie box. Got 6 of 'em myself already
https://www.theindiebox.com/

My second to last game came with a USB snes controller. Pretty awesome
« Last Edit: March 21, 2015, 12:46:32 pm by Akalabeth Angel »

 

Offline Aesaar

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Remember that Electronic Arts was voted worst company in america, two years in a row, yet despite that its grade from the Better Business Bureau is an A+. What does that say?
That people love jumping on the EA hate bandwagon no matter how unfounded that hate might be?


Two things I will say:
1: Steam's return policy is ****awful and I think Origin is a superior service based on that alone.

2: If you buy an early access game that makes it very clear it's early access and you're pissed off that it's incomplete, you have only yourself to blame.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2015, 02:01:36 pm by Aesaar »

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
That people love jumping on the EA hate bandwagon no matter how unfounded that hate might be?


Two things I will say:
1: Steam's return policy is ****awful and I think Origin is a superior service based on that alone.

2: If you buy an early access game that makes it very clear it's early access and you're pissed off that it's incomplete, you have only yourself to blame.
You are not seriously saying that hating on EA is unfounded... right?
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Offline headdie

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
That people love jumping on the EA hate bandwagon no matter how unfounded that hate might be?


Two things I will say:
1: Steam's return policy is ****awful and I think Origin is a superior service based on that alone.

2: If you buy an early access game that makes it very clear it's early access and you're pissed off that it's incomplete, you have only yourself to blame.
You are not seriously saying that hating on EA is unfounded... right?

No he is saying that EA is actually observing consumer rights at that point which steam is refusing to do even when the legal jurisdiction for the region they are distributing to tell them they need to observe their obligations.... which is very 90's/early 2000's Microsoft
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Offline Flipside

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
The problem arises with games like Starforge, which ARE declared complete, but actually contain about 10% of the content advertised in the Kickstarter video. Basically, Codehatch took the money, started developing the game, realized that things were more complex than they thought, so they pushed out something that looks like a tech-demo and started trying to develop a rip-off of Medieval Engineers instead.

I'll agree, that's not Steams fault, but there does seem to be a worryingly growing number of consumers who will actually veer more towards the idea that it's the purchasers fault for not reading reviews, rather than the companies fault for releasing a sub-standard product that doesn't do what it said on the tin (and don't even get me started on how screwed consumers are by investing in Kickstarters in the first place).

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
That people love jumping on the EA hate bandwagon no matter how unfounded that hate might be?


Two things I will say:
1: Steam's return policy is ****awful and I think Origin is a superior service based on that alone.

2: If you buy an early access game that makes it very clear it's early access and you're pissed off that it's incomplete, you have only yourself to blame.
You are not seriously saying that hating on EA is unfounded... right?

No he is saying that EA is actually observing consumer rights at that point which steam is refusing to do even when the legal jurisdiction for the region they are distributing to tell them they need to observe their obligations.... which is very 90's/early 2000's Microsoft
Right, just checking.
(Cause a lot of the EA hate is very much founded)
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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Problem is people don't think for themselves. Many gamers are young and are influenced by media, you tubers or other peoples opinions. Loud mouths like jim sterling for example or total biscuit. And even though I linked a tb video he is sometimes an opinionated and elitist ahole.

For all games companies I simply consider the content they produce. The games I've played from EA have been enjoyable so don't have a problem. dead space, mirrors edge, battlefield etcetera

 

Offline headdie

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Problem is people don't think for themselves. Many gamers are young and are influenced by media, you tubers or other peoples opinions. Loud mouths like jim sterling for example or total biscuit. And even though I linked a tb video he is sometimes an opinionated and elitist ahole.

For all games companies I simply consider the content they produce. The games I've played from EA have been enjoyable so don't have a problem. dead space, mirrors edge, battlefield etcetera

EA loves to do its anti consumerism via stuff like DRM.
Steam is no interest in the quality of 3rd party content it distributes + no cares for consumer rights.
Ubisoft is we are going to make last years game looking better and buggier.
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Offline Klaustrophobia

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
vote with your wallets.  pirate ALL the things!!!
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Offline CP5670

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Not surprised by this. Valve is well known to have poor customer service if a problem does arise. As for the platform itself, I think Steam is definitely worse than Origin. Origin has its issues but doesn't force game updates on you and allows you to choose install folders without any restrictions (and without messing with NTFS junction points). I have a lot of Steam games, but they are mostly from Humble Bundle deals. To be honest, I buy most games long after release and pay little enough for them that I think of them as throwaway purchases anyway, so the DRM doesn't really bother me like it used to.

Steam *does not* buy the products they display but rather are paid royalty to *distribute them* from the developer

So no, they are not a store by any means

One interesting consequence of selling internet services instead of physical goods is that they can make a profit at almost any price and don't need to manage their inventory. You can see this difference on Amazon, where the physical copies of games are often significantly cheaper than digital copies because of the need to clear out old stock.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 11:22:44 am by CP5670 »

 

Offline Flaser

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Meanwhile on GOG...

Who knows? Apparently GOG Galaxy is moving along nicely, since they started to unbundle games in libraries for easier management and update handling.

As for the whole "Valve's responsible for - X" debate:

Whether you're a shop or a distributor, the real problem (IMHO) isn't that Valve's not handling purchase returns, it's that they don't provide *any* support for the customer to ascertain their lawful rights, namely holding the developer to the promises it made on the platform. Valve could (some say rightfully) argue that complaints and returns should be handled by the developer... however doing *nothing* to aid the customers in this (and no, lawsuits shouldn't be the default action for product related issues) is tantamount to them condoning illegal business practices and the fact that they financially benefit from this negligent behavior makes them accountable in a court of law.

The EU has already given them a warning, in fact I think it's only a matter of time (though this could take *years* given the slowness of EU bureaucracy) until they're hit with fines that *will* hurt them.

Even doing something as simple as taking customer feedback on developers and suspending release rights of the ones with massive bad publicity could go a long way toward restoring customer goodwill.
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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Not surprised by this. Valve is well known to have poor customer service if a problem does arise. As for the platform itself, I think Steam is definitely worse than Origin. Origin has its issues but doesn't force game updates on you and allows you to choose install folders without any restrictions (and without messing with NTFS junction points). I have a lot of Steam games, but they are mostly from Humble Bundle deals. To be honest, I buy most games long after release and pay little enough for them that I think of them as throwaway purchases anyway, so the DRM doesn't really bother me like it used to.

I wish one could turn off Steam updates as well.  Having Steam check for updates every time I launch a game is infuriating.  I have no patience for anything that inconveniences me or gets in the way of my gaming experience.

Another practice that Steam has recently changed is that they've removed a feature of Humble Bundle. Rather than get your game by simply clicking a button, now you'll need to update a code. They added the functionality, and then removed it again. Why? It makes my infringes on my gamer experience. If I get 10 games in a bundle, now I need to enter in 10 codes to unlock them instead of just clicking a button for each one? I'm not 100% sure about this as I haven't actually renewed the last star wars bundle I picked it up, but that is the change as I understand it.

Any such client should be made to be as convenient and as rewarding as possible.  It should enhance the gaming experience, not detract from it. 

It's akin to EA's additional log-on on consoles. I'd pick up an EA game, like Battlefield 1943 and try to load it up and it would ask for my log on information. I'm already on Xbox Live, I don't need ANOTHER log on. And in the end I had problems I never once actually got into a game, though that may have been because the online community had died out.

As a consumer, when I'm looking at a product or platform the question I ask is how does this benefit me? And if a client is being forced upon me and the only incentive is "sales" then that's not sufficient benefit. GOG provides sales and updates to download with no client at all and with no middle man except for DOS box, which is ultimately a necessary evil and one that does not take up a lot of time to launch.

Good business practice, getting an A+ from BBB should involve practices which actively benefit and most importantly EMPOWER the consumer.