The Steam summer sale has proven another huge success for both Valve and bargain hunters alike, however admist the flash sales and price cutting one question hangs unconformably in the air, do you actually own the games in your Steam library?
The logical answer would seem to be yes, when you buy something you own it but not apparently if that something happens to be Sniper Elite 3 which a number of Steam users found removed, without their consent, from their Steam libraries yesterday, so what happened?
Well the justification for the deletion, according to Sniper Elite 3’s publisher Rebellion is a straight forward one. Some time between the game’s Friday launch and Sunday morning Rebellion discovered thousands of Sniper Elite 3 keys had been stolen and sold on to more than 50 online retailers, these retailers in turn sold said keys to unwitting customers who gained access to Sniper Elite 3 through Steam illegally. Rebellion feel for all the customers affected but won’t be offering any kind of refund or compensation bar giving their Target Hitler DLC away for free to all those out of pocket. So there you have it, Rebellion claim that what we have here is a perfect storm of illegality and bad luck which has lead to their heavy handedness however a number of customers and Steam key distributors have hit back at Rebellion claiming the publisher has completely fabricated this tale in an attempt to corner the market, here’s the alternative theory.
Rebellion, through it’s distributors sold thousands of Sniper Elite 3 keys to countless retail sites. Upon realizing that many of these vendors were selling their Sniper Elite 3 keys for, in some cases less the half of what Rebellion were asking for on Steam (£40.00, $68.09), Rebellion feared the majority of their potential customers would, and rightfully did opt for the better deal so they cooked up this stolen key tale and deleted many of the cheaply obtained Sniper Elite 3s in an attempt to force those affected to buy the game at full price through Steam. These conspiracy theorists point to a number of clues which they say support their claims including the fact that Rebellion, in a statement which they later altered, advised all customers to avoid “shady retailers” and “only purchase their games through Steam”, Rebellion persist in blaming “unauthorised resellers” alongside those selling stolen keys for the decision to delete the games and a number of customers have claimed that their copies of Sniper Elite 3 where also removed from Steam despite the fact that they came to own their keys by buying them through the likes of GMG, GAME and even in physical form.
A member of the Steam community summed up Rebellion’s claims and the conspiracy best.
Think about this..
“You are a key thief, an elite hacker.
You hack the publisher’s servers and then…
You sell your stolen keys to 50 different key traders.
Every trader buys them from you without checking your background and then resells these keys to the game shops (who sell them to you)
And all this is done in less than 24 hours.
Whoever believes this story should…”
Whether or not this whole Sniper Elite 3 debacle turns out to be crime or conspiracy we may never know for sure but what we should all take from it is that while digital games libraries are easy to access, clutter free and available almost anywhere the true overlords of these systems, Valve, EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo, Sony and the like will always have the last word on what happens to your games, regardless of how much you’ve paid.