April 20, 2018 // 11:26 a.m.
Game publishing and digital distribution giant Valve has been fined £1.64 million by an Australian court for participating in what was described as 'misleading or deceptive conduct' over the refund policy on its Steam platform.
Today, Valve's Steam digital distribution platform offers a relatively generous refund policy: Subject to fair use and anti-fraud restrictions, gamers purchasing a title can request and be automatically granted an immediate refund providing they purchased the title less than 14 days ago and have played it for less than two hours in total. Introduced in 2015, the policy has helped Steam grow to its current gargantuan level - but prior to that Valve had language specifically refusing the right of refund in place, which has now bitten it squarely on the rump.
A case filed back in 2014, prior to the introduction of the current Steam refund policy, has been decided by the High Court of Australia, with Cnet reporting on the ruling: Valve engaged in 'misleading or deceptive conduct' and will have to pay a fine of £1.64 million.
The fine was likely exacerbated by Valve's decision to fight the case on disingenuous grounds: The company claimed that it did no business in Australia and was thus not bound by Australian laws, and that the software sold through the Steam platform were not 'goods' as defined in local consumer law. Both arguments were, unsurprisingly, rejected by the court.
Valve has not issued a comment on the statement, but its right of appeal has been exhausted meaning it now has no choice but to pay the fine.