Home But Valve I’m dead? Why can’t my family play the Steam games I have bought?

But Valve I’m dead? Why can’t my family play the Steam games I have bought?

As gamers, we are being conditioned to believe that the games we now buy aren’t really ours a lot of the time. However, the big companies may choose to phrase things, it is apparent that no matter how much we spend on a game, they can, certainly in the case of multiplayer games or online-focused games, just turn it off whenever the business decision seems right for the members of the board and shareholders.

It’s difficult not to constantly refer back to the horrific quote from a Ubisoft exec about gamers needing to get used to the idea that we don’t own our games anymore. There are several four-letter responses to this theory I could give them, but the fact remains since we stopped purchasing or being able to purchase, physical versions of our games, we actually have zero say and own nothing.

At least with digital storefronts like Steam, we own something, right? The collection may be ethereal, but I own those games and can do with them as I please, even after I die. I mean I bought them and if I want my kids to reminisce over my untimely demise with a collective game of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit or even to crack open dad’s old No Man’s Sky save one last time, that’s fine right?

Your backlog dies with you

“NO, IT ISN’T”, says Steam,” Tell your kids to get their filthy paws off our games. You are dead and they are ours nowwww.” Okay, I am paraphrasing their official response to a question a user asked them about whether he was able to leave his game library to somebody in their will.

“I regret to inform you that your Steam account cannot be transferred via a will.” Oh, come on. As part of the Steam ToS games are non-transferable, but I am dead here, can I not catch a break?

This is like those stories when you call the electricity company to tell them a parent has died and they refuse to speak to you without the account holder’s permission. Stupidity.

Who is corporately suffering from me handing down my more recent videogame collection alongside all my physical cartridges from yesteryear? Nobody that’s who.

Steam has understandably come under some flack for this response, which granted seems to have come from a low-level customer support who perhaps failed to realize this is the kind of thing the internet loves.

Many have pointed out that they would never know if your kids just carried on logging in through your account. This is true – they could even change the payment card to theirs – hmm, like they would ever do that, but this misses the point. I bought this stuff and should be able to do what I want with it. We aren’t talking about Ubisoft turning off servers here, we are talking about 15-year-old versions of Defcon, or Civ 4.

The prospect of our incoming mortality and our digital footprint is one that many people are wondering about. I have now reached the age where I am too young to die but old enough to drop dead, and I, like we all should, need to think about those OneDrives full of family photos, who has access to the Netflix account so they can carry on watching Below Deck after my passing, and everything other online aspect of my life.

But at the bottom of this, I have bought these things Valve, with my own cash. They, like photos, have memories for me and I want to give them to my kids, even if they never even play them. I want them to be stressed out by the number of games on there I have never even played and be furious when some bug-ridden mess from yesteryear fails to load because the operating system isn’t Windows Vista anymore.

Just let me give the kids their dead dad’s games, please?

Featured Image: AI-Generated in Ideogram

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Paul McNally
Gaming Editor

Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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