Nobody is your friend if there is money involved.
I'm going to type some thoughts on the Polygon article as I read it. Pretty much only putting in half a thought
The world is finally realizing that a hands-off, profit-first, tax-dodging “connection and services platform,” powered by the cheap labor of people who aren't technically employees and have no rights isn't exactly a good idea.
Good Guy Valve worked hard to make us believe that willingly installing surveillance and control software onto our computers was a morally benevolent, perhaps even righteous act — and we swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
Not even 10% of the way down and I already know that this article is probably going to be some guy either investing in Alcoa or throwing a bitch-fit. Or both.
As for DRM, Steam is and isn't DRM. It is because it requires one to be online to activate a game, but you also need to be online if you are purchasing a game from Steam and downloading it anyways? Once installed many games work fine if you are offline.
We also didn’t want anything else once we were comfortable with Steam, which is a big problem for anyone who doesn’t want to give Valve a third of every sale.
That's no different than the industry norm. Steam is 30%, GOG 30%, Humble Bundle is 15% (+10% for charity).
One could buy directly from the developer, but how can the developer handle the traffic of the downloads? Either make it more expensive to recoup the cost of the infrastructure, or sell it cheaper and potentially have a wider market through a third party.
If anything publishers are the bane of developers. They can make more profit than the developers! (Second Source)
EA launched its Origin client in 2011, and demanded that we install it if we wanted to play Battlefield 3. Our collective Stockholm Syndrome for Steam kicked in en masse, and we rained hellfire on this “greedy corporation” for its temerity.
I think part of that stems from Origin being closed to outsiders. The only way to get a game onto Origin is to have it published by EA. Which again requires publisher deals as mentioned above. Another part being EA games having a fuckton of DLC that will often cost as much or more than the base game. For example, Battlefield 1 is $60 for the base game or $130 for the "Ultimate Pack". Not really calling them greedy for pulling their games from other distribution platforms, calling them greedy because they charge a lot of money for "extra" content.
We all eventually discovered that our close, personal and entirely fictional relationship with Valve did not entitle us to any kind of refund on our purchases.
Shitty for the consumer, but it saves a lot of hassle for Valve from the "renters". I know people that would go to Walmart or wherever, buy a game, blaze through it for a couple days, and then return it for full price once they were finished. They played the game and got the value from it without having to actually pay anything in the long run.
Players began noting that was Valve was doing was wildly illegal, pointing out quite accurately that under European Union law, consumers were entitled to a refund on all purchases — even for something as simple as changing their mind.
Again, really shitty, but in some regards it wasn't illegal depending on how one looks at it. Under EU law citizens are allowed 14 days to withdraw for a refund under normal circumstances. However, under Article 16(a) of the same law, the right is waived if
service contracts after the service has been fully performed
if the performance has begun with the consumer’s prior express consent, and with the acknowledgement that he will lose his right of withdrawal once the contract has been fully performed by the trader;
So if Valve claims they are a service, which it looks like they did, as soon as somebody agrees to the terms that they waive their right to a return as soon as the contract (sale) is complete. It's an extreme grey area, but it could be argued that Valve is offering a service that initializes and completes instantaneously.
*This section should be taken with a grain of salt since I'm not a lawyer in any way, shape, or form.
We’re colleagues in the sense that Valve gets our money and our labor, a topic we’ll talk more about later. We do our part with the memes, the articles and the social media posts, and our good friend Valve does the rest. The rest meaning taking our money.
Not entirely sure how that's Valve's fault at all? Valve isn't forcing slave labor on the internet as far as I can tell. Don't want to make a shitty Valve mem? Then don't make a shitty Valve meme.
Valve themselves eagerly trumpeted that they had paid more than $57 million to Steam Workshop creators over four years — an enormously impressive figure until you realize that it's only 25 percent of the sale price, which means Valve just made $171 million profit from ... setting up an online form where you can submit finished 3D models.
Again, nobody is forced to do it? Yes, the profit distribution is bad, there's no debating that. But if one wants to maximize their profits the only guaranteed way to get 100% is to do it yourself.
That paid mod fiasco was hilarious in some regards. "Somebody is now charging money for putting in countless hours of their own life? Burn the witch!" Never bought any mods though because I don't like buying anything ever.
TL;DR: Read the very first line of this post.
Also, Valve is a shitty company, but that's not anything new.
Something something vote with your wallet.
Effectively the same reason why G2G and other grey market retailers are still around. There's plenty of documentation about their shitty activities and other nonsense, but a good majority of the market just doesn't care and will still keep using their services.