scroll down

What Will Happen to Your Steam Library if You Die? The Answer May Not Please You

After my home internet connection was down for a couple of days, I finally got the time to think about the big questions in life. Trying to figure out the meaning of it all, trying to make sense of everything; but right when I was so close to enlightenment, my Internet was fixed and I back online playing CS:GO.

However, the question that stuck with me was regarding my Steam account. I wondered what will happen to it if I passed on. What about my library that is now worth almost $1200? Will my games be destined to rot in the digital graveyard for eternity? Or is there a system in place by Valve that deals with such situations, a system that may allow my family or friends to tranfer my account’s ownership.

I got online, looked around and I was a little glad to know that I wasn’t alone. There are thousands of people asking the same question in large threads. The weird part is that Steam hasn’t put this question in its FAQ page, which is unacceptable.

I read Steam EULA and other documents I could find online that helped me figure out the answer, so I thought I would share it with anyone who was wondering the same thing.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • You can not transfer your Steam account to another person
  • In case of passing, your account is destined to rot in the digital graveyard
  • If someone in your family contacts Steam about the situation, Valve will “permanently deactivate your account”
  • If you have kids, your gaming library will not be transferred as inheritance because those games aren’t technically your property (“Valve hereby grants, and you accept, a limited, terminable, non-exclusive license and right to use the Software for your personal use in accordance with this Agreement, including the Subscription Terms. The Software is licensed, not sold. Your license confers no title or ownership in the Software”). In short, you’re not the owner, rather, you just have a limited licence for your personal use.
  • Deactivation of said account will not result in refund, and Valve won’t reactivate said account in the future.

Here’s an excerpt from the agreement:

You are entitled to use the Software for your own personal use, but you are not entitled to: (i) sell, grant a security interest in or transfer reproductions of the Software to other parties in any way, nor to rent, lease or license the Software to others without the prior written consent of Valve, except to the extent expressly permitted elsewhere in this Agreement (including any Subscription Terms or Rules of Use);

While reading up the user agreement, I found a very interesting section that is specifically for EU residents.

You agree that this Agreement shall be deemed to have been made and executed in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and that it is subject to the laws of Luxembourg, excluding the law of conflicts and the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). However, where the laws of Luxembourg provide a lower degree of consumer protection than the laws of your country of residence, the consumer protection laws of your country shall prevail. In any dispute arising under this Agreement, the prevailing party will be entitled to attorneys’ fees and expenses.

What makes this interesting is that in some countries it is completely fine to sell or transfer used licences. In fact, preventing such transfers is against the law and free market. There was also a ruling few years back confirming this.

This basically means that for some EU countries, it is the law that will decide what will happen to your Steam account and library. However, if you’re living outside of EU, you may be out of luck on this. Well, I guess you’re already out of luck if you’re dead, you won’t probably care about your games if you reach gamer heaven, but it was a very interesting question and we hope this cleared things up for you. If you have something to add or think I missed something, let me know in the comments below.