Australia Sues Valve, Corp.
Valve Corporation is being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC states that Valve’s no refund policy is unfair. Further, Valve does not attempt to fix or replace any kind of faulty game download, which is another bone of contention with the ACCC. In case you’re wondering, Valve is the company behind the wildly successful PC game service, Steam.
The Problem WIth Steam Downloads
Downloading a game from Steam is easy to do, but if you read the download legalease carefully, you will see that Valve makes no commitment or promise when it comes to helping you out if you download a faulty file. Instead, you’ll have to purchase a new game, and that’s the problem that the ACCC has with Valve’s Steam service.
There’s a law in Australia that companies are not allowed to ban refunds - any kind of retailer or store must provide a customer refund, even if an item is bought on sale. Thus, Valve breaks Australian law by not letting customers get a refund for a game that doesn’t work. Unfortunately, this is not the case in every country, and it’s perfectly legal for Valve not to offer a refund in most places.
Valve Talks Back
Valve has released a statement saying that the company is trying to work with the Australian Government, so that Steam can continue to operate in Australia without penalty or changing its corporate policy. Valve hasn’t stated why the company does not allow refunds and won’t repair any game that’s botched. But, it can be estimated that the company simply doesn’t want to bother with refunds, or that there’s no real way to track how many people have legitimate cause for a refund.
As you might imagine, gamers that use Steam stand behind what the Australian Government finds unjust. Some consumers are pushing the company to offer refunds in other countries too, though no similar lawsuits have been filed from other governments. If you do use Steam, you should be aware that Valve will not refund your money for any reason, so that’s a risk that you’re going to have to take when it comes to buying a game through Steam.
Just how big is Steam? The company has over 65 million users, and it’s easily one of the biggest digital stores when it comes to PC game downloads. Most gamers have heard of Valve or use Steam. Interestingly, the company has been sued once before by a German consumer group that claimed Steam’s policy not to allow users to re-sell games was unjust. In that case, though, courts ruled against the consumer group in favor of Steam.
If you want to use the biggest PC game download service, you’re going to have to deal with the rules that come with using Steam, and that means not getting a refund for any reason. It will be interesting to see how Australian courts rule in this case, but it’s not likely that other governments will follow suit.