The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority slams Valve over its Steam Summer Sale, stating that Valve’s pricing of Grand Theft Auto 5 intentionally misled customers.
The Steam Summer Sale has become one of the PC gamer’s go-to periods to get must-have titles on the cheap, sometimes offering tremendous discounts on popular games. Unfortunately, it appears as though not every deal that Valve has offered is equal. According to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, the developer misled gamers over the pricing of Grand Theft Auto 5.
Once the summer sale began, the original version of GTA 5, which had initially cost £39.99, disappeared from Steam’s storefront. Instead, the title was only available through highly promoted bundles including items such as GTA Online cash cards. The bundle was sold for £51.99, with a 25% discount bringing the product down to £39.98.
At one point, the original version of GTA 5 even appeared in the sale, but only for a few hours until the title was taken down. In the end, complaints were made that this 25% discount was not genuine, and the case was brought to the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA has now given a verdict on its official website, ruling that Valve was in the wrong to sell the game in this manner, and misled customers in the process.
It’s not the only controversy that has befallen Valve over recent months. The Half Life and Left 4 Dead developer pushed forward a Steam paid mods scheme in April, resulting in extreme backlash from PC gamers and even leading to death threats against some mod creators. The plan was pulled quickly, after complaints of numerous exploitative paid mods appearing on Steam.
Thankfully, opinion was much more kind regarding another radical change to the digital distribution system. This year also saw the launch of Steam refunds, giving gamers the chance to be reimbursed for inferior or broken products. The system has been put to good use so far, particularly regarding the Batman: Arkham Knight PC fiasco which resulted in full refunds being offered.
2016 could be a make or break year for Valve, as the developer is pushing a number of other new business ventures aside from its typical digital products. Not only is the company venturing into the physical device market through licensed Steam Machines at the end of this year, but Valve is also teaming up with HTC to enter into the fiercely competitive virtual reality race. With Valve’s name being based on a commitment to quality in years gone by, a perception that the company misleads its own customers is hardly going to be helpful during such a time.