Gaming hero
8 September 2014

Steam in trouble over refund policies

Owner of online games store taken to court.

Online game store Steam is in trouble over in Australia for its refund policies.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Valve (the owners of Steam) alleging that Valve made false or misleading representations regarding the application of the consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC alleges that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam that:

  • consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances;

  • Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality;

  • Valve was not under any obligation to repair, replace or provide a refund for a game where the consumer had not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer; and

  • the statutory consumer guarantees did not apply to games sold by Valve.

This will have an effect on New Zealand as well, as our consumer laws are very similar. So we may see a shift in policy from Valve to cover this off.

There are a number of reasons why you could be due a refund for a game.

  • The game's required specs were either incorrect, misleading or incomplete. This includes games that technically work on the minimum specs but do not offer anything close to the true experience.

  • Games that require you to always be online. There are two parts to this. First if the game doesn't clearly state that you need to be online to play, then you can get refunded. Secondly, if the game has continual server issues causing disruption of any kind to gameplay.

  • The game is not actually a game. I know how this sounds, but there are lots of games (mainly apps for tablets and phones) that aren't games as much as they are scams. It's for this reason that both Apple and Google have refund policies and don't actually charge your account until a day or so after you buy it.

Obviously you can't get a refund on a game because you don't like it. I assume that Steam games come with a huge amount of DRM (software designed to stop piracy) so they should be easily able to offer a refund and stop you from using the game after that.

by Hadyn Green

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