– Charlie Braithwaite
As you may know the Australian Competitive and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are attempting to sue Valve (the company that owns steam and has a thing for not making trilogies).
It has been over a year since the ACCC first took action against Valve, the issue being Steam’s lack of refund policy, which according to the ACCC breached Australian trading regulations. Well, as it turns out Steam has since adopted a refund policy, yet the ACCC are still proceeding with their action.
Maybe this is justified due to the nature of Steam refunds. As stated in Steam’s refund policy, refunds only apply “within two weeks of purchase and with less than two hours of playtime.” Which, isn’t all that long and a game may well and truly break before then.
Take a case in which one of my friends bought DLC for a game he owned, the DLC didn’t work and he requested a refund, but he had played the vanilla game for two hours after the DLC was activated before realising it hadn’t worked. As this didn’t adhere to Steam’s policy he didn’t get a refund… for a faulty product.
Now the fact that the ACCC are still suing Valve despite the introduction of a refund policy isn’t so alarming, however what is concerning is Valve’s defense of their policy which was filed to the Federal Courts.
“Valve Corporation does not admit that it carried on business in Australia although it admits that it has made available to Australian Consumers online access to use video games through Steam Client pursuant to the terms of a Steam Subscriber Agreement.”
Oh, okaaay. Well that is one way to back out of an argument. So Steam isn’t a thing in Australia. Technically I can see where Valve are coming from here, they practice in the US and games in Australia are still purchased in US dollars. But it’s a bit cheeky to turn their backs on a huge number of their consumers and to try to avoid local regulations, such as being fair to customers. Also, this response raises a bigger question as to why Australians pay different prices for games on Steam, usually significantly more than our American friends.
It might be some time yet before we hear how this case plays out. Valve were supposed to fly out representatives from the US to Australia for a hearing, but apparently they became sick. The next hearing is scheduled for March 2016.
Now can someone please make a court simulator that takes years to resolve simple cases. I’d buy that for my non existent Steam account.