Ordered To Pay $3 Million Fine, Valve Files Another Appeal In Australia

Valve is said to have misled or deceived gamers in Australia regarding Steam's return policy.

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Valve, the PC gaming giant that operates Steam, has filed another motion to appeal the an Australian regulator's decision to fine the company $3 million over claims that it misled or deceived gamers in matters related to Steam's refund policy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's legal action against Valve dates back to 2014, which is when the process began. Two years later, in 2016, Australia's Federal Court ruled that Valve misled or deceived consumers. And later that year, Valve was ordered to pay penalties amount to $3 million. Valve's initial appeal was dismissed, and now Valve has filed another appeal, against the claims and the penalty.

IGEA's Jonny Roses explains, Valve applied for a "special leave" to the High Court for its Federal Court appeal regarding the decision. The decision and the $3 million penalty are still holding pending the decision of the appeal process.

At the heart of this case is Valve's contention that it has never itself traded in Australia and is thus not violating anything in Australian Consumer Law. Instead, Valve argues that it 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.

However, in the ACCC's December 2017 rejection of Valve's first appeal, the Full Court declared that Valve did indeed carry out business in Australia. Because of this, Valve is "bound by the Australian Consumer Law in its dealings with customers here," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Sims said this case against Valve is of high importance because it could set a precedent that would affect other companies based in other markets but doing business in Australia.

"This case sets an important precedent that overseas-based companies that sell to Australians must abide by our law," Sims said. "All goods come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold, even if the business is based overseas," Mr Sims said.

Valve is officially based in Washington State, USA. According to the ACCC, Valve has 2.2 million Steam users in Australia, which is no small figure even if it just a fraction of Valve's total userbase worldwide. We'll report back with more details on this case as they are made available.

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