After you die, your Steam games will be stuck in legal limbo

It turns out that digital rights management and its consequences extend even beyond your passing when it comes to Steam. Valve has made it clear that no, you cannot will your Steam account or games to someone else when you die.

The issue of digital game inheritability gained renewed attention this week as a ResetEra poster quoted a Steam support response asking about transferring Steam account ownership via a last will and testament. “Unfortunately, Steam accounts and games are non-transferable” the response reads. “Steam Support can’t provide someone else with access to the account or merge its contents with another account. I regret to inform you that your Steam account cannot be transferred via a will.”

↫ Kyle Orland at Ars Technica

My wife and I make sure we know each other’s passwords and login credentials to the most important accounts and services in our lives, since an accident can happen at any time, and we’d like to be somewhat prepared – as much as you can be, under the circumstances – for if something happens. I never even considered merging Steam accounts, but at least granting access to the person named in your will or your legal heir seems like something a service like Steam should be legally obliged to do.

I don’t think Steam’s position here – which is probably par for the course – is tenable in the long-term. Over the coming years and decades, we’re going to see more and more people who grew up almost entirely online pass away, leaving behind various accounts, digital purchases, and related matters, and loved ones and heirs will want access to those. At some point over the coming decades, there’s going to be a few high-profile cases in the media about something like this, and it’s going to spur lawmakers into drafting up legislation to make account and digital goods transfers to heirs and loved ones not a courtesy, but a requirement.

In the meantime, if you have a designated heir, like your children, a spouse, or whatever, make sure they can somehow gain access to your accounts and digital goods, by writing stuff down on paper and putting it somewhere safe or something similar. Again – you never know when you might… Expire.


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