Valve have issued a statement to Australian Steam users | PCGamesN

Valve have issued a statement to Australian Steam users

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Update, April 27: Valve have issued a statement to Australian Steam users.

In the wake of their failed appeal against a $3 million fine for "misleading" Australian consumers, Valve have issued a notice regarding Australian consumer rights.

It's been a tough few months for Valve - they also managed to misspell a new CS:GO pin.

The statement reads that "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." Valve had previously said that Australian consumers did not have a right to a refund under the company's policy, which only allows customers to return products if they have owned them for less than 14 days and played them for less than two hours.

That's in contradiction to Australian law, which states that citizens are entitled to refunds that Valve aren't allowed to circumvent. Valve's statement reads that customers should find games "free from defects," "acceptable in appearance and finish," and "fit for all the purposes for which videogames are commonly supplied." You can read the full statement here.

Update, April 20: Looks like Valve are going to have to pay their fine.

Valve's appeal against a $3 million fine issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been dismissed. The decision, announced today, means Valve are (probably) going to have to pay the fine.

The fine was first issued in 2016, when the ACCC said that Valve's refund policy was invalid under Australian consumer law, and that the company "had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to Australian customers." Valve have already attempted (unsuccessfully) to appeal against the fine, arguing that as they have no physical presence in the country, its laws should not apply to their digital marketplace. 

A second appeal has today been dismissed by the High Court of Australia. In a statement, ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said "this important precedent confirms the ACCC's view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws." 

The Australian High Court refused Valve's special leave application, ruling that Valve is bound by Australia's laws when selling to Australian customers. The decision on the issue is final, and could set interesting precendents elsewhere in the world.

Update, January 24: Valve have filed a second appeal against a $3 million fine issued by the Australian courts.

Having been ordered to pay penalties amounting to $3 million for misleading Australian customers, Valve have filed a second appeal against the claims against them and the fine.

The company's initial appeal was dismissed. But according to Johnny Roses, a policy lawyer working for the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (who represent videogame developers, publishers, and distributers across Australia and New Zealand), the company have applied for "special leave" to file a second appeal.

Roses says that the "original decision and $3 million fine will continue to remain on hold until the High Court makes its decision or the application is rejected." Valve's appeal stems from the fact that the company claims that having never operated in Australia, it is not accountable to Australian consumer law. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, however, states that as there are 2.2 million Steam users in Australia, Valve are affected by the country's laws.

Original story, December 22: The Australian Federal Court has thrown out two appeals by Valve in a case between the company and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). The dismissal of the two appeals means that Valve will have to pay a $3 million penalty.

The case dates back to 2014, with Australian consumers complaining that they were not able to get refunds on games bought through Steam, something that is allowed under Australian Consumer Law, which states that “all consumer goods or services come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold. If they are not, consumers have a right to a remedy, which may include refund, repair, or replacement in certain circumstances. These consumer rights cannot be excluded, restricted, or modified.”

Valve now offers refunds through the Steam client, but in 2014, when the case was filed, they didn’t. While the company is based in America, the fact that they sell products in Australia means they are bound by Australian law on those products. As such, a previous version of Steam’s worldwide license agreement told Australian users that they were not entitled to refunds on their purchases, was deemed “misleading” by Australian courts.

According to itwire, Valve were appealing “against a ruling that it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations about consumer guarantees,” as well as a $3 million (AUS) fine. Both appeals were dismissed. The ACCC themselves report that Valve have also been ordered to “publish information on Australian consumer rights on their website for 12 months,” “implement a consumer compliance program for their system and staff,” and “not make any similar representations to Australian consumers for three years.”

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Infidel avatarAnakhoresis avatarXanatos (MEME MASTER) avatarnice avatarNihlusGreen avatarLucky5h0t avatar+5
WhiteCrow Avatar
679
4 Months ago

"Valve's appeal stems from the fact that the company claims that having never operated in Australia, it is not accountable to Australian consumer law. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, however, states that as there are 2.2 million Steam users in Australia, Valve are affected by the country's laws."

Trying to have their cake and eat it too, just like any multinational business would. Man up Valve, and pay the damn fine. They only lose face by continuing to appeal this far into the process.

2
Shriven Avatar
3503
1 Month ago

Next, it will be the EU. The bubble has burst for digital marketplaces. You cant sell in countries digitally and not abide by there rules.

1
Jimbob Avatar
20
1 Month ago

Good, for too long consumers were getting screwed with broken games that didn't work and were just told to wait and hope that it got patched/fixed. Digital distribution (and software in general) shouldn't be exempt from out basic statutory rights.

Over the years I bought about 5 or 6 games at £30 a pop that just didn't work properly and I never really got to play. If it was any other purchase you would be instantly covered, Steam refunds was a great start.

1
Xanatos (MEME MASTER) Avatar
3
5 Months ago

half life 3 is confirmed

0
Infidel Avatar
42
5 Months ago

If I was Gabe/Valve/Steam. I would pull all availability of my product from AUS for this act. Its a blatent fuck you from the country and is unwarranted. Quite frankly its pathetic that they would implement a law that states the consumer is always going to enjoy the product and if they don't they just get their money back. How does anyone operate a business in AUS. Instead of people taking advantage of welfare in the US you should just go live in AUS for free. "This apartment didn't fit my wants, I want a refund." "This ice cream melted too fast on this hot day I want a refund" "This game that I knew nothing about had a level that was really hard. I want a refund" Fuck AUS. This is just another reason why America is the best country and only people that have been to other "better" countries know this. Stop paying attention to Liberals people. This is the type of policy a Liberal made to make things more complicated and line their pockets. Where exactly do you think that 3million will go from this fine? Fuck AUS. Gabe. You're an idiot for giving into their terrorist demands and thats exactly what it is. A terrorist act: an act for political benefit.

-10
Anakhoresis Avatar
677
5 Months ago

It's more to do with whether the product even works, that's where this came from, Valve selling utterly broken products on Steam and refusing to do anything about it.

7
Infidel Avatar
42
5 Months ago

Early Access has multiple disclaimers. That point is invalid.

-5
Anakhoresis Avatar
677
4 Months ago

Can't reply to your other comment, so I'll reply to this one. Again, you keep saying "Early Access" but the case is not about Early Access games.

https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/full-steam-ahead-accc-institutes-proceedings-against-valve-for-making-alleged-misleading-consumer-guarantee-representations

"The ACCC alleges that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam that:

-consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances;"

To repeat, ANY GAMES. There is no mention of "Early Access."

3
Anakhoresis Avatar
677
5 Months ago

This court ruling is about all of Steam, not just Early Access, so no, not invalid.

2
Infidel Avatar
42
Infidel replied to Anakhoresis
4 Months ago

Uh no. Wrong. The court ruling is aimed at the company Steam. The problem was early access where you could buy incomplete games. You can't buy incomplete games outside of early access. You can buy games you may not like, or may not play the way you want but they aren't broken or incomplete. So yes. Still invalid. Why you ask? Because again of the disclaimers on early access and in the steam FAQs. They are not responsible for you not doing your research on a game. Except apparently in Australia because they have the most ridiculous laws for a first world country in all of the world.

-2
NihlusGreen Avatar
662
5 Months ago

“all consumer goods or services come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold. If they are not, consumers have a right to a remedy, which may include refund, repair, or replacement in certain circumstances. These consumer rights cannot be excluded, restricted, or modified.”

Here it is again. Reading it would have saved you time and embarrassment.

Also please don't paint the current US political division labels over other countries, it just doesn't make sense.

4
Infidel Avatar
42
5 Months ago

Oh gawd. You bumbling idiot. You read that just like a schoolboy politician who's a left leaning mentally ill person instead of anyone with experience or logic. So, by that logic, In Australia it would be illegal to sell prototypes, donate to any charity of any kind, let alone kickstarter type donations, sell early access games or gamble. Because none of those things will ever be guaranteed acceptable quality by consumers but may be acceptable quality to the developers or distributors. So... to spare my accused embarrassment and pass it on to the person who it actually belongs. I ask you. How do you suggest operating a video game distribution service that offers people the opportunity to make and sell games on your platform based on sales and demand for the product a fair and inviting process in one country out of multiples that don't have ridiculously liberal and left leaning views? I dont see right leaning countries complaining about buying a product they don't like. You know why? They either know how to read or know how to research a product before they buy it. Also, I just want to point this fine deatil out here. They don't set their expectations for a rock to turn into a f**king star....

-7
NihlusGreen Avatar
662
5 Months ago

Your fail to comprehend Australian consumer law, which is understandable, but then you go on a political extremist tirade, again embarrassing yourself. Consumer protection has nothing to do with left or right politics.

"How do you suggest operating a video game distribution service that offers people the opportunity to make and sell games on your platform based on sales and demand for the product a fair and inviting process in one country out of multiples that don't have ridiculously liberal and left leaning views?"

Again not sure why your trying to bring politics into it, but thanks to this lawsuit Valve have now brought about a refund policy which conforms to the many global laws under which it operates.

" I dont see right leaning countries complaining about buying a product they don't like." If all of America leaned to the right politically I'm sure "left leaning" wouldn't be constantly implied as an insult across the net at the moment. And also that no Americans have returned a game on Steam?

Some perfect gaming examples of this consumer law protecting customers would be Sim City 2013 (which EA eventually offered refunds as around a week passed with many unable to play) and Journey of the Light (a scam game which Steam also offered refunds for). Just two of many examples.

4
[Mata] MajorAccident Avatar
6
4 Months ago

Yeah, so... Valve are the ones that have made the mistake here, and they've been doing it right across the world. They claim - like many American corporations - that because they don't operate in the countries where they sell products, they are not subject to the laws of those countries. In making that argument, they have transformed a consumer rights issue into a sovereignty issue (which is obviously a much bigger deal). The courts will reject their appeal, and they will likely find themselves on the receiving end of some pretty harsh legislation designed to make it quite clear to Valve - and others - that they are indeed subject to the laws of the countries they operate in. They're making exactly the same argument in courts in the EU right now; it's a huge mistake, especially in the current climate. GabeN needs to employ better lawyers that are more aware of the business implications of the their frivolous attempts at legalese.

Let's suppose they respond in the way you suggest however. Valve pulls out of the Australian market, forfeiting a majority hold on a market worth $3 billion. What do you think happens next? GOG, Humble, GMG and others - who are more than willing to operate under the laws of Australia - step in, gobbling up hundreds of millions in sales, as Valve steps out of one of its most robust markets.

Beyond that, you're an insane person and you need help.

4
Xanatos (MEME MASTER) Avatar
3
5 Months ago

wth did i even just read. ive made some silly rants in my time -- but yours takes the cake. what the hell do you know about this situation or anything

2
nice Avatar
1
5 Months ago

You'd take away games from an entire nation,their government would not care at all,the actual gamers would pretty unhappy and everyone would see Valve as an immature child instead of a business and then You'd be losing potentially twice the money that the lawsuit took away from you,if you're luck.Yeah...we know why you're not Gabe Newell.

Besides this lawsuit is pretty relevant,Steam stop caring about the shit it's on their platform long time ago,all they care is that they have a percentage when selling it,and if the customer says "oh...well,this sucks" they're like "well,fuck you".That sounds right for you? Hell,there are so many thing to tackle upon on what Steam and Valve do,it's amazing how many of you are still defending it,hell,you're defending it from something that harms the market and may prejudice you personally...

But nooo, fuck the AUS for trying to help the customer,Mr.Fanboy that still believes Valve to be the great company they were 10 years ago is unhappy because their favorite company won't be able to buy Toilet paper this week.

1
Lucky5h0t Avatar
1
5 Months ago

Pretty sure you are just trolling, but I'll bite. What you are talking about is "caveat emptor" or, "let the buyer beware". This is good in theory, but its fairness goes out the window as more complexity is added to a product type.

How are you supposed to know when buying electronics or software whether it works? Should companies be able to rip off poor uneducated people who are not smart enough to make informed decisions. Should billion dollar multi-national corporations be able to issue 100 page contracts with insurance contracts so that nobody understands them and they rip off poor people and dont even work.

Sure, capitalism eventually swings into action and a company will answer for its actions, but under some "economic" conditions, such as monopoly or oligopoly the consumer may not have a choice in which companies they can deal with due to 'barriers' in the marketplace.

So first of all, caveat emptor doesnt even work. Secondly, Australia and the UK's implementation of "trade law" or "consumer law" as it was more recently renamed is far from socialism. There are two key features that the ACCC upholds from the "Consumer & Competition Act".

1) Good must be fit for its purpose

2) Good must be of merchantable quality.

(1) You buy a game that says its a multiplayer game, but it doesnt have any multiplayer, its only single player. Company offers to fix it but it goes unfixed for a year. You are entitled to a refund because game didnt do what it said, its NOT FIT FOR ITS PURPOSE, IE, TO PLAYED ONLINE.

(2) You buy a game. It has everything it contains, but it crashes non-stop. You work in IT and you have tried all typical troubleshooting steps but the game is just broken. The game is NOT OF MERCHANTABLE QUALITY, you are entitled to a refund.

-----------

I would love it if every game sold at a retailer removed the steam DRM and steam pulled out of the AU market. It would be become a free-for-all. Not to mention our country is well off and would cost steam a ridiculous amount of money.

Steam is welcome to pull out of AU if it doesnt perform the minimum standard for fair trade. Which incidentally is the same as the UK and most countries under common law derived from the UK.

1
nu1mlock Avatar
770
5 Months ago

You need to go back to trolling school.

1