Valve has issued an update to its Steam Subscriber Agreement that effectively prevents all Steam users from joining in class action lawsuits against the company. Valve's new SSA requires that "you [the user] and Valve agree to resolve all disputes and claims... in individual binding arbitration," mimicking similar language added by EA to its Origin service agreement and Microsoft with Windows 8.
Valve offers a curious explanation for the change in a press release, speaking on users' behalf: "In far too many cases, class actions donít 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."
Unlike other companies who've issued language to prevent class-actions, Valve has granted users a weird bit of compensation in the new SSA. Anyone who elects to use individual arbitration to resolve any Steam-related disputes can expect to have their cost of arbitration paid for entirely by Valve, no matter the final decision. However, for this offer to stand, the claim must be under $10,000, and the arbitrator must not "determine the claim to be frivolous or the costs unreasonable."