Due to a national policy that says Australians have a right to a refund for faulty or defective goods, Valve’s lack of refund policy could see the company fined millions.
There are few companies in the video game industry that have earned the level of respect that Valve currently demands. The company behind games like Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, and CS:GO has made a name for itself as both publisher and business mogul, as its Steam PC game service is world-renowned as one of the best online gaming hubs available. In the eyes of many gamers, Valve can do no wrong.
Of course, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth, especially lately. Valve has recently come under fire for not actively punishing or seeking to stop the CS:GO gambling problem that has become rampant within that game’s competitive scene, and just a month ago Valve was ordered by the Washington State Gambling Commission to put an end to the problem under threat of civil or criminal action against the company. Now, Valve’s troubles aren’t just a local affair either – Valve was found guilty of breaching Australian consumer law earlier this year, and reports have surfaced that the company could be facing a hefty $3 million fine.
Charges were initially filed against Valve by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2014, claiming that Valve had, for years, failed to honor Australian consumers’ legal rights to a refund. After being found guilty in Australian Federal Court two years later, Naomi Sharp, presiding council for the ACCC, is now arguing that Valve should be fined $3 million “in order to achieve both specific and general deterrents, and also because of the serious nature of the conduct”.
Now, given Valve’s success, a $3 million fine is likely to be little more than a small bump on an otherwise smooth, profit-filled road. The company’s annual Dota 2 The International tournament regularly rewards more than that amount to the first place team alone, and when asked for comment, Valve’s attorney essentially stated that Valve wouldn’t resist the final ruling when it comes sometime around December or January.
Still, it’s an awkward legal proceeding that certainly doesn’t look good for Valve from a publicity standpoint, and it might finally get the company to revisit its lacking refund policy on a global scale. Until then, however, Valve will continue to do Valve things – like work on new Valve VR hardware – and gamers will, more than likely, continue to flood the Steam Store whenever a sale occurs and help pay Valve’s potential fine in the process.