Valve loses final appeal in Australian lawsuit, on the hook for $2.4 million fine

Australia's High Court has upheld a ruling against Valve in a lawsuit filed against it in 2014 by Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission over the lack of a refund policy on Steam. The ACCC won the suit in 2016, and came out on top again a year later when Valve's first appeal was dismissed

Valve implemented a refund policy in 2015, but the suit was filed in relation to the years prior to that. Valve had actually issued more than 15,000 refunds during the relevant period to players who were unable to install or play a game, but because nearly 25 million Australian consumers agreed to Steam's terms and conditions between 2011 and 2014, Justice James Edelman ruled that it was "impossible to calculate the precise number of consumers who were affected by the misrepresentations." 

In December 2017, Valve applied for special leave to appeal the prior Full Federal Court denial of its appeal to Australia's High Court. But the High Court denied the application, which leaves the Federal Court ruling, and a $2.4 million fine, to stand as the final decision on the four-year-old matter. 

"This important precedent confirms the ACCC’s view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said. "If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a repair, replacement or refund as if they’d walked in to a store." 

The ACCC said there are 2.2 million Steam "subscriber accounts" in Australia. There are roughly 5.5 billion dollars in Gabe Newell's pocket, according to Forbes.

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.