An America online video game developer, Valve Corporation has been found guilty of breaching Australian Consumer Law. The company that works hand in hand with the Steam PC distribution platform was found to have been on the wrong side of the law because Steam does not give refunds. Australian Federal Court has heard that Steam PC does not give refunds under any circumstances, whether for gifts or even during sales. The heated war between Valve and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), took close to 18 months and the court has finally handed down the ruling against the Luxembourg-based Corporation.
During the long battle that started in August 2014, Valve has since tried to put out the fire by implementing its own refund policy but this did not stop the lawsuit that was already in place.
The Federal Courts found that Valve made misleading claims in the three versions of its Steam Subscriber Agreement. Steam PC is the physical distributor of Valve in Australia and is thus required to follow the Australian laws.
Valve Corporation passes the buck
Valve told the courts that they are not physically on the Australian Business grounds as they only sell online. The courts were presented with the case by the corporation which claimed that they do not officially conduct business in Australia. They said they only provided online access to video games through a client, which they felt did not fall into the definition of ‘goods’ as it is defined in Australian Consumer Law.
The Argument of Valve was that their Steam PC subscriber agreement is based on the law of the State of Washington. This is where the tricky part came in because Steam distribution operates on the Australian turf.
Regardless of not being physically present in Australia, the customers are still purchasing from Valve. This means that only on the basis of selling to the Australian citizens, they are bound to follow the Australian law. The courts stated that the Consumer law referred to all ‘goods’, whether computer hardware or software.