Valve’s Steam and EA’s Origin are among four major digital games storefronts now under fire by Norway’s Consumer Council for violating European consumer protection legislation.
If you’re looking for something that isn’t under consumer protection scrutiny, try something off our list of the best free PC games.
GamesIndustry.biz reports the NCC carried out a survey of digital storefronts in December, and found that Nintendo, PlayStation, Steam, and Origin all failed to comply with the European Union’s “right of withdrawal,” a law that allows all customers to refund purchases up to 14 days after receipt of the product or service.
Nintendo’s case is the most egregious of the four, as the NCC found that Nintendo does not give customers any means of cancelling a digital software pre-order.
Steam and Origin both have refund policies, but the NCC alleges that these aren’t enough. Valve allows refunds on Steam games within 14 days of purchase, but only if customers have played less than two hours. Origin’s policy allows refunds within 24 hours of launching the game, or within seven days of purchase, or within seven days of the release date for pre-orders, so long as the game isn’t launched, whichever comes first.
The NCC told GamesIndustry.biz that Valve, at least, could come into compliance in their view by requiring European customers to acknowledge having read the return policy during the purchase process, “by ticking a box or something similar.” A similar workaround is probably possible for EA.
But it certainly looks as though things are beginning to get legally tight for games marketing around the world. This past week, Belgian authorities found that loot boxes in Overwatch and Counter Strike: Global Offensive ran afoul of the country’s gambling laws, and earlier in the month, Australia’s High Court dismissed Valve’s appeal against a $3 million fine levied by that country’s consumer protection agency.