The Australian Federal Court Has Fined Valve $3 Million

The Federal Court has fined Valve $3 million over breaches of Australian consumer law for their lack of an advertised refund policy on Steam from 2011 to 2014.

In the judgement from last Friday's hearing, Justice Edelman ruled that Valve "engaged in conduct which was misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive in contravention" of Australian consumer law when they advertised to consumers that users had no obligation to refunds for games purchased through Steam.

Although Valve introduced a refunds policy on Steam since the case began, the Federal Court found that the breaches of consumer law between 1 January, 2011 and 28 August, 2014, were significant enough to warrant a fine of $3 million.

The fine is to be paid within 30 days. Justice Edelman also ruled that a notice must be displayed to Australian users:

For a period of 12 months after 20 February 2017, for the benefit of Australian Consumers logging onto the Steam Website from a computer with an Australian IP address (based on the IP look up table available to the respondent current as at the consumer’s login), the respondent will publish on the home page of the Steam Website a link, in a typeface of at least 14 point Times New Roman, reading “IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT CONSUMER RIGHTS IN AUSTRALIA”, which directs them to a notice in the terms set out in Annexure A1 (“Consumer Rights Notice”).

The court also found that Valve must "establish and implement an Australian Law Compliance Program to be undertaken by each employee of the respondent or other person involved in the respondent’s business who deals or who may deal with Australian Consumers".


The notice to be displayed to Australian consumers is as follows:

On 24 March 2016, the Federal Court of Australia found that Valve Corporation had engaged in misleading conduct contrary to the Australian Consumer Law in representing to Australian consumers via the Steam Subscriber Agreement and Steam Refund Policy that consumers had no entitlement to a refund in any circumstances and that Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees of acceptable quality. A link to the Federal Court judgment appears here.

When you buy video games from Valve Corporation as a consumer located in Australia, the video games come with guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law that cannot be excluded, including a guarantee that the video games are of acceptable quality. You are entitled to a replacement or refund from the retail supplier of the video games for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage.

You are also entitled to have the video games repaired or replaced by the retail supplier of the video games if the video games fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure. Certain other rights are available directly against manufacturers that cannot be excluded or limited.

The test for acceptable quality is whether a reasonable consumer, fully aware of the state and condition of the video games, would find them:

a. safe, durable and free from defects;

b. acceptable in appearance and finish; and

c. fit for all the purposes for which video games of that kind are commonly supplied. This must take into account the nature and price of the video games, and any statements on packaging or labelling.

Valve has until 20 February next year to appeal the fine and the ruling.


This story originally appeared on Kotaku.

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Comments

    I hate it when I get an unsafe video game and the supplier won't let me upload it back to them for a refund.

    Even after this Steam are still refusing to provide refunds to Australian consumers. I have just opened a case with NSW Fair Trading for a refund on a defective product they claim exceeded the 2 hour play time limit on refunds.

    What many people do not realize is that the steam platform counts the time the program is running, not how long it was played for. If you are idle in a menu, have the game minimized, waiting for level loading, waiting for content downloads in game, waiting for the the advertiser into videos/logos (spam), etc.. this is all counted as 'Play Time'. Even walking off to have tea while the game loads and leaving it sit idle in the main menu is considered play time.

    In my case, continual restarts of the product due to crashes, waiting for crash report generation, trying to recover a lost game state due to crashes. A defective and faulty product that under Australian law warrants a replacement or refund. Since a replacement is not viable in this situation, a refund is required of Valve.

      "What many people do not realize is that the steam platform counts the time the program is running, not how long it was played for. If you are idle in a menu, have the game minimized, waiting for level loading, waiting for content downloads in game, waiting for the the advertiser into videos/logos (spam), etc.. this is all counted as 'Play Time'. Even walking off to have tea while the game loads and leaving it sit idle in the main menu is considered play time."

      I just want to quote what you said here you have got to be kidding me mate. People in australia are already privileged and you are complaining for such things first world problems mate i understand that it is advertised to be refunded if you exceeded a 2hour play time but jesus christ man for real? You're gonna take it to court? Just because of that?

      You need to chill out mate we are even lucky to have the ACL even out of warranty products can be replaced because we are protected by the government but don't fucking abuse it mate why the fuck did you even buy the game and just play it for 2 hours or less? pre-conceived notions so you bought the game and thought you could finish it with less than 2 hours but you didn't so complained that it's because this and that rubbish, and then you took it to court fuck's sake mate lmao.

      Cheers.

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