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Gaming industry   The Steam game distribution platform

Valve to pay $3 million for misrepresenting gamers' consume

ValveOn December 23, 2016 the Federal Court ordered Valve Corporation (Valve) to pay penalties totalling $3 million for breaching the Australian Consumer Law.

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Valve is one of the world’s largest online game retailers and operates the Steam game distribution platform.

In March 2016, the Court found that Valve had breached the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations to consumers in relation to its online gaming platform, Steam.

The Court held that the terms and conditions in the Steam subscriber agreements, and Steam’s refund policies, included false or misleading representations about consumers’ rights to obtain a refund for games if they were not of acceptable quality.

In determining the appropriate penalty to impose on Valve, Justice Edelman noted that “even if a very small percentage of Valve’s consumers had read the misrepresentations then this might have involved hundreds, possibly thousands, of consumers being affected”.

Justice Edelman also took into account “Valve’s culture of compliance [which] was, and is, very poor”.

Valve’s evidence was "disturbing" to the Court because Valve ‘formed a view …that it was not subject to Australian law…and with the view that even if advice had been obtained that Valve was required to comply with the Australian law the advice might have been ignored”.

He also noted that Valve had "contested liability on almost every imaginable point."

The Court has also ordered Valve to publish information on Australian consumer rights on their website for 12 months, implement a consumer compliance program for their system and staff, and not make any similar representations to Australian consumers for three years.

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