Valve appeals $2.4 million Australian lawsuit loss

The lack of a refund policy on Steam prior to 2015 resulted in a $2.4 million fine against Valve, arising from a lawsuit filed in 2014 by Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission. Valve appealed the decision, but the fine was upheld. So Valve took the natural next step, and appealed again. 

The odds of Valve coming out on top don't appear to be very good. As Kotaku Australia points out, the Full Court ruling on the initial appeal supports the original ruling entirely. "In our view, no error is shown in his Honour’s approach. His Honour had regard to all the relevant factors and did not take into account matters that were extraneous to the exercise of the penalty discretion. In particular, his Honour properly had regard both to specific and general deterrence," the ruling states. 

"We do not consider that Valve has established error in relation to the four findings by the primary judge highlighted in Valve’s submissions ... We do not consider that any error has been shown in the primary judge’s approach to the determination of the appropriate penalty, and we do not consider the penalty that he imposed to be manifestly excessive." 

That doesn't sound like the sort of ruling that leaves much room to wiggle, and while anything is possible I'd be surprised if the High Court takes a significantly different position from that of the Full Court, assuming it agrees to hear the case at all.   

Compounding Valve's troubles down under is the fact that even after losing the lawsuit, "Valve appears to have done relatively little to train its support staff about Australian legal requirements," the Full Court ruling says. When the Competition and Consumer Commission requested documentation of instructions provided to Steam support staff in relation to Australia, for instance, it was told that there wasn't any. 

"Mr. Quackenbush [Valve general counsel Karl Quackenbush] said in evidence before the primary judge that he had given the support staff only oral compliance instructions (which had been based on legal advice that he received from K&L Gates) because: 'They’re a pretty efficient bunch. A very mature bunch'," the ruling states.

"In written submissions before the primary judge, Valve maintained that it did not need to provide any written guidance about the Australian Consumer Law to its 50 support staff because 'verbal [by which was meant oral] tuition is a perfectly valid and effective means of providing staff training'." 

Valid or not, that's probably not the kind of sass you should be pitching at the people who just clobbered you with a multi-million-dollar fine—although as I said last time, I can't imagine that Valve will have too much trouble covering it

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.