Valve's GTA 5 Steam Sale Was "Misleading," Says ASA

Advertising standards authority upholds customer complaint regarding "25 percent discount."

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UK advertising regulator the ASA has upheld a customer complaint that Valve had advertised a "misleading" promotion for Grand Theft Auto V on Steam.

Valve has been told it is not allowed to run the advert in the UK again, and has been asked by the ASA " to ensure their future savings claims do not mislead about benefits available."

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The upheld complaint concerns a Steam promotion for the PC edition of GTA V, which was seen by UK customers between June 11 and 12.

One advert listed a GTA V at £38.98, claiming that this represented a 25 percent saving, despite the standalone game typically listed on Steam at £40. The reason for the "25 percent off" label was that the game was bundled with in-game currency that was valued at £12.

The theory was that the game, plus the add-on currency, sold at £38.98 represented a total saving of 25 percent.

Such arithmetic was branded as misleading by the ASA, however. The regulator explained: "Because a 25 percent saving was not available on the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared, as claimed, we concluded that it was misleading."

Meanwhile, at the time a separate listing of GTA V standalone for £38.98 was also listed on Steam as "25 percent off." Valve told the ASA this was a software error and that it had rectified the issue within three hours of it first being seen.

Having examined Valve's explanation, the ASA did not uphold the customer complaint. However, it also noted that both the bundle and standalone game were listed side-by-side.

"We considered consumers were likely to understand to mean that both the game and the bundle were included in the sale," the ASA ruled.

A third complaint, regarding a "75 percent" discount to Wolfenstein: The New Order, was not upheld.

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In late October, Steam's concurrent user reached a new record high, at 12.5 million players. By Valve's latest count, the platform serves more than 125 million registered users and 6,000-plus games.

The corporation's next major initiative is to push PC gaming into the living room with Steam Machines.

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