Valve Ordered by Australian Court to Pay $2.3 Million Fine

21 April, 2018, 21:46 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Game distributor Valve fined over refunds policy

Valve Corporation, the US-based video game developer and distribution business with more than 2.2 million subscribers in Australia, has lost its High Court challenge over a $3 million fine for misleading or deceptive conduct.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued Valve in 2014 over the lack of a refund policy on its digital storefront Steam.

In March 2016, the court found that Valve had breached the Australian consumer law by making false or misleading representations to consumers in relation to its online gaming platform, Steam.

In 2016, after the initial judgment, the ACCC had handed a notice to Valve asking what actions it had taken to inform its staff of Australian consumer rights, to which the company responded that it had issued oral instructions regarding compliance.

"If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a fix, replacement or refund as if they'd walked in to a store", she said.

Valve had sought special leave to appeal that decision in the High Court, which today dismissed that application.

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The trial judge had previously found these representations were not misleading, in part because the consumers had asserted their rights under Australian Consumer Law, and were therefore not likely to be misled.

"Unless required by local law" was the sticking point, because in Australia Valve was required by local law to provide refunds, but didn't.

Steam is now considered the largest such digital platform in the gaming space and is estimated by some to have a global market share of upwards of 75% and an Australian user-base of over 2.2 million users.

Valve, one of the world's largest online game retailers, runs the Steam platform, offering games such as Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, and Left 4 Dead.

The decision seemingly puts an end to years of back-and-forth and legal battles between Valve and the Australian regulator. The ACCC had initiated legal action in April a year ago over Apple allegedly refusing to provide a free remedy if a faulty device has been taken to a non-approved repairer. In addition to the $3 million AUD penalty, the company must also place a notice in font size 14 on its Australian website informing consumers of their rights.

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