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  1. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    John, any chance of trying to a statement out of them on this whole gifting for money thing? It makes sense on its own, but seems totally at odds with the whole four-pack promotion thing they do.
    Yes, please. It would be interesting to know. I haven't bought any of those packs, but Frozen Synapse's buy-1-get-2 springs to mind as another thing that might be at odds with this.

  2. #202
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    John, any chance of trying to a statement out of them on this whole gifting for money thing? It makes sense on its own, but seems totally at odds with the whole four-pack promotion thing they do.
    It doesn't, really. You can gift the other game to your friends. They're just not supposed to pay you for them, apparently. "Gift" implies no payment.

    That said I think you're safe with the whole 4 pack thing. It's clear that the intention is to terminate accounts engaging in region pricing circumvention, presumably only those involved on a large scale, but the wording suggests they have the authority to take it much further if they want, and arguably circumventing censorship would be one of the bigger targets to hit.

    It's strange in that it's rather explicit - do not sell gifts. I'm not saying that Steam is super sinister and out to get us, I'm just pulling out the terminology (much like people do for Origin or other services) and interpreting it in the strictest way possible. The statements in practice seem to be a lot more relaxed and far less sinister... but the capacity still exists for them to take the stricter interpretation apparently.

  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by duff View Post
    I think gifting a European an uncensored version of a game, or splitting a four pack deal, is a bit less dubious and damaging to the developer than shifting 70+ games purchased at Russian prices for personal gain. Tin foil hats can go back in the cupboard.
    The problem is, people will defend Steam using arguments like this (which to be fair, are totally valid). But then when the inevitable false positive happens, and some guy who was legitimately sharing four-packs with his mates but bought a few too many and got banned, the same people will be the ones that right away turn around and say "well you were breaking the T&Cs, you deserve it"

  4. #204
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    That said I think you're safe with the whole 4 pack thing. It's clear that the intention is to terminate accounts engaging in region pricing circumvention, presumably only those involved on a large scale, but the wording suggests they have the authority to take it much further if they want, and arguably circumventing censorship would be one of the bigger targets to hit.
    Intention is interesting word, since it's only speculation. The clause said pretty clearly that any sold subscription can lead to ban. If anything, I'd say the intention might as well be to ban anyone who participates in "let's buy 4-pack together" thingies, and the clause supports this intention more than large scale region pricing circumvention.

  5. #205
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    The problem is, people will defend Steam using arguments like this
    Which is why I take such delight in highlighting this issue. It just goes to prove that even the most beloved services still have scary terms which might result in absolutely nothing to worry about... but people go apeshit talking about "the potential for things to happen" or assuming that because something is stated it always will be enforced/performed, thus I think it's worthy of attention. Again I doubt that there's an impending witchhunt that will sweep away accounts like a plague, but I doubt that EA were undertaking significant data mining activities and selling data to the RIAA. That didn't stop the rage and speculation, thus I expect rage and speculation here as well!

    (Yes, I am stirring up trouble. Call it an art project.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaira- View Post
    Intention is interesting word, since it's only speculation.
    You are of course 100% correct and by the rather specific wording we can suggest that they could ban any sort of gift-for-cash setups... but look at it in practice, I mean these kinds of things with the 4-packs are discussed on the Steam forums yet aren't acted upon. I think it's reasonably safe to assume that it's only actually enforced when there's profiteering going on...

    ...but with that said, the possibility of a hardline stance exists, and that's reason enough to be suspicious.

  6. #206
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    Getting a statement out of Valve is incredibly hard work. If they respond to my first questions, I'll follow up about gifting.

  7. #207
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus duff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    The problem is, people will defend Steam using arguments like this (which to be fair, are totally valid). But then when the inevitable false positive happens, and some guy who was legitimately sharing four-packs with his mates but bought a few too many and got banned, the same people will be the ones that right away turn around and say "well you were breaking the T&Cs, you deserve it"
    I'm not defending Steam at all. I've said elsewhere that their communication is awful and the initial perma-ban was out of all proportion to the offence. We should absolutely be trying to get Steam to improve their communication over instances like this.

    But I do not think that buying games in bulk from developing countries and profiting from their sale is right. Do I think gimperial should be perma-banne for this? Probably not, either way my opinion on that doesn't matter. I still think it shouldn't be done in the first place.

    That is clearly what the EULA is legislating against. Steam are not gonna start banning everyone who splits a four pack or gifts their German friend an uncensored copy of Saints Row, like some have concluded. Yes the EULA does need to be clearer on this issue. It is when trading becomes coordinated, large scale and commercial that action will be taken. And in my view, rightly so.

  8. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by duff View Post
    I'm not defending Steam at all. I've said elsewhere that their communication is awful and the initial perma-ban was out of all proportion to the offence. We should absolutely be trying to get Steam to improve their communication over instances like this.

    But I do not think that buying games in bulk from developing countries and profiting from their sale is right. Do I think gimperial should be perma-banne for this? Probably not, either way my opinion on that doesn't matter. I still think it shouldn't be done in the first place.

    That is clearly what the EULA is legislating against. Steam are not gonna start banning everyone who splits a four pack or gifts their German friend an uncensored copy of Saints Row, like some have concluded. Yes the EULA does need to be clearer on this issue. It is when trading becomes coordinated, large scale and commercial that action will be taken. And in my view, rightly so.
    Which is fair enough. The problem is, history is full of places where agreements are made worded in one way but 'intending' something else and almost inevitably they end up being used for what they were worded for if it benefits the people on the other end.

  9. #209
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    Quote Originally Posted by duff View Post
    words.
    I agree with you in general, apart from the profiting. I was gifting games for free (no profit), and even when it wasnt for free it was either at a loss (for me), or breaking even.

    Unless you mean that people having the chance to buy cheaper games were profiting.

    Either way, don't confuse me with this guy: http://cheapsteam.cssdiz.ru/

  10. #210
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus duff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Which is fair enough. The problem is, history is full of places where agreements are made worded in one way but 'intending' something else and almost inevitably they end up being used for what they were worded for if it benefits the people on the other end.
    Yeh exactly, and that needs to be cleared up. As does their customer services, which with the amount of growth they have year on year, you'd think they could afford to have the best service in digital distribution.

    gimperial - obviously your actions were not close to being on the level of that guy. I still don't agree with what you did though. Getting some mates a few gifts while your out there is one thing, but running up 70+ transactions seems like you took things to quite an extreme and things became organised.

  11. #211
    Lesser Hivemind Node TailSwallower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    They wouldn't, unless they were monitoring forums like this and the data smuggling thread and stuff. Which raises interesting privacy concerns.
    I think it's more likely that they would be keeping an eye out for pairs of email address that are gifting and also exchanging money with Paypal at the same time - but that would require Steam to have access to Paypal's systems, which I assume would never happen.

    So whilst I still think it's more likely than Valve checking potentially hundreds of PC gaming forums and cross-checking posters' names with Steam names, etc, etc, etc, I don't think it's likely at all.

    Perhaps it's something really simple, like gimperial and his friends swapping Steam messages along the lines of "LOL tanx 4 teh cheep russhian gmes brobraham lincoln! Check yo paypaul 4 the fundz." Not sure if Steam can and do read messages sent within their own system, but that seems like the most obvious answer.
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  12. #212
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Unaco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TailSwallower View Post
    So whilst I still think it's more likely than Valve checking potentially hundreds of PC gaming forums and cross-checking posters' names with Steam names, etc, etc, etc, I don't think it's likely at all.
    It wouldn't be that difficult for someone at Steam/Valve, when the account is flagged for a high volume of trades, to Google 'Gimperial Steam' and come across the SA thread(s) where he/she was freely offering to buy at the Russian prices for people, and then "gift" them the game ("Russian prices are sometimes about 50% of US/UK prices, so if you guys see any with a huge difference like that let me know and I'll see what I can do"). And then see, it's not 'gifting', it's offering a service to circumvent the regional pricing.
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  13. #213
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unaco View Post
    It wouldn't be that difficult for someone at Steam/Valve, when the account is flagged for a high volume of trades, to Google 'Gimperial Steam' and come across the SA thread(s) where he/she was freely offering to buy at the Russian prices for people, and then "gift" them the game ("Russian prices are sometimes about 50% of US/UK prices, so if you guys see any with a huge difference like that let me know and I'll see what I can do"). And then see, it's not 'gifting', it's offering a service to circumvent the regional pricing.
    Which reminds me:

    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    They wouldn't, unless they were monitoring forums like this and the data smuggling thread and stuff. Which raises interesting privacy concerns.
    Public fora are public, no? God knows I don't want potential employers to find wacky shit on my Facebook account, but the smart part of me says, "then don't put wacky shit on your Facebook account."
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  14. #214
    Network Hub Megagun's Avatar
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    They could also just hook an automated search engine to the Steam chat, which raises an alert every time someone mentions "paypal" on Steam Chat.

  15. #215
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    I think it's reasonably safe to assume that it's only actually enforced when there's profiteering going on...
    Probably not to be honest. Gifting a few games a month is likely perfectly reasonable, and I doubt Valve have the ability to tell whether you accepted cash for them or not. Having 70+ games go from one account in the space of around a month on the other hand is going to get shut down even if they weren't selling games - it'll look a lot like money laundering, and from Valve's perspective it's better to drop a potentially innocent customer than have the Feds shut Steam down while they investigate.

    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Which is fair enough. The problem is, history is full of places where agreements are made worded in one way but 'intending' something else and almost inevitably they end up being used for what they were worded for if it benefits the people on the other end.
    Yes. Welcome to reality where the point of a business is to make money, not to make people feel warm and fuzzy inside. Unless doing so brings in more money. Protip - if you're signing a contract which doesn't favour yourself, you're doing it wrong.

  16. #216
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TailSwallower View Post
    I think it's more likely that they would be keeping an eye out for pairs of email address that are gifting and also exchanging money with Paypal at the same time - but that would require Steam to have access to Paypal's systems, which I assume would never happen.

    So whilst I still think it's more likely than Valve checking potentially hundreds of PC gaming forums and cross-checking posters' names with Steam names, etc, etc, etc, I don't think it's likely at all.

    Perhaps it's something really simple, like gimperial and his friends swapping Steam messages along the lines of "LOL tanx 4 teh cheep russhian gmes brobraham lincoln! Check yo paypaul 4 the fundz." Not sure if Steam can and do read messages sent within their own system, but that seems like the most obvious answer.
    Frankly, I don't think they went through the effort at all. I think his account got flagged after close of business on Friday, and was pre-emptively shut down until the matter could be handled by staff on Monday, who simply banned his ability to trade on the basis of volume more than anything else.
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  17. #217
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus ColOfNature's Avatar
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    But... but... conspiracies! Spying! Victimisation! Your way lacks narrative. Booooring!


  18. #218
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColOfNature View Post
    But... but... conspiracies! Spying! Victimisation! Your way lacks narrative. Booooring!
    Well, it doesn't fit into the whole "Steam vs Origin" narrative because Steam's largely a known entity and Origin... isn't. We don't expect every little debacle with Steam to turn into a full-blown scandal because we'd have been deluged with similar such over the last decade.
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  19. #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Frankly, I don't think they went through the effort at all. I think his account got flagged after close of business on Friday, and was pre-emptively shut down until the matter could be handled by staff on Monday, who simply banned his ability to trade on the basis of volume more than anything else.
    It was suspended daytime Weds, I emailed asking what'sup. They replied in 3 hours (wow, fast!) saying "you're banned, account won't be reactivated". I emailed back Weds 'noon saying why was I banned, was it all the gifting? They replied Thursday daytime saying no, and copy pasted the first message (banned, won't be reactivated).

    Then there was silence until Sunday daytime, at which point they said they're looking into it (after RPS emailed them), and I was unbanned Monday daytime. Looks like contrary to popular belief, Steam Support do work on weekends.



    vvv If it was simply flagged, why would they reply twice saying "your account is banned and will not be reactivated" & "we will not help you further with this issue"?
    Last edited by gimperial; 31-01-2012 at 09:42 PM.

  20. #220
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus ColOfNature's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Well, it doesn't fit into the whole "Steam vs Origin" narrative because Steam's largely a known entity and Origin... isn't. We don't expect every little debacle with Steam to turn into a full-blown scandal because we'd have been deluged with similar such over the last decade.
    I'm not even convinced there is a "Steam vs Origin" narrative, except in the fevered dreams of the EA marketroids. Origin, and any other digital distribution service, is destined to remain an also-ran in that particular race for the forseeable future, simply because Steam is already thouroughly embedded in the market.
    There are a bunch of people who, reasonably or otherwise, have an axe to grind with Steam and are always ready to jump on any perceived fault. In the same way as there are a bunch who want to portray EA as some kind of institutionally evil megacorp. I don't buy into either, and while I'm more inclined to give Valve the benefit of the doubt than I am EA for historic reasons, they can be kind of gnomic in their dealings with the public.
    In this case I reckon you've nailed it: someone has spotted this guy's behaviour and flagged it for further action, and it's simply unfortunate that the weekend intervened before it was resolved.


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