Australian court reaffirms that Valve misled gamers, $2.3 million fine upheld

Back in 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission filed a lawsuit against Valve, alleging that the lack of a refund policy on Steam was in violation of the country's consumer protection laws. The ACCC ultimately won the case, resulting in $AU3 million ($2.3 million) fine levied against Valve. Valve appealed, as one does, but that didn't work out either. 

"The Full Court found Valve carried on business in Australia, and was therefore bound by the Australian Consumer Law in its dealings with customers here," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. "The Full Court also upheld the finding that Valve made misleading representations about consumer guarantees and that certain terms and conditions in the Steam subscriber agreements and refund policies were false or misleading." 

"This case sets an important precedent that overseas-based companies that sell to Australians must abide by our law. All goods come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold, even if the business is based overseas." 

The ACCC had filed a cross-appeal relating to conversations between Valve reps and individual consumers, but that was dismissed as well: The judge ruled that because the consumers in question had already asserted their consumer rights in those chats, and so weren't likely to be misled.   

Valve implemented a Steam refund policy in 2015 that covers most eventualities (there are terms and conditions, but "Valve will, upon request via, issue a refund for any reason, if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours" is the gist of if) but because the complaint was filed prior to that, so does the ruling—and the fine. Luckily for Valve, it'll probably be able to cover it

Thanks, PCGamesN.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.