Steam Symbol
The Steam Symbol belongs to Valve Corporation. (Wikimedia Commons)

One of our writers examines the Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice and explains what it should mean for Australian gamers.

Australian Steam Users might notice that their store page now has a new addition: a link to the Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice.

Without going into detail, I’m staunchly anti-Steam for reasons that I explained in another article.

Anyway, the notice appears (somewhat disingenuously, might I add) at the bottom of the first ‘page’, as can be seen here:

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice link
Observe the scroll bar and note how far down the ‘page’ I am before it appears. (Steam)

Let’s examine the entire text of it (relax, it’s only three paragraphs), and see what it actually means in the real world.

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice (Paragraph 1):

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice - Paragraph 1
“We are no longer breaking Aussie law.” For some reason, I’m still withholding applause. (Steam)

“On 24 March 2016, the Federal Court of Australia found that Valve Corporation had engaged in misleading conduct contrary to the Australian Consumer Law in representing to Australian consumers via the Steam Subscriber Agreement and Steam Refund Policy that consumers had no entitlement to a refund in any circumstances and that Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees of acceptable quality. A link to the Federal Court judgment appears here:

http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2016/2016fca0196

Actual Meaning (Paragraph 1):

Over two years ago we (Valve) were caught breaking Australian Consumer Law because we said that we don’t do refunds under any circumstances. That’s illegal in Australia.

Also, the Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice took two years to reach our Aussie storefront, because reasons. Just shut up about it and buy our stupidly overpriced and undersupported games.

Also, run-on sentences are acceptable when a lawyer writes them.

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice (Paragraph 2):

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice - Paragraph 2
“We are now refunding games in a legal manner.” Meanwhile, I’m still withholding my applause, and have also thrown a party purely so I can not invite Valve. (Steam)

“When you buy video games from Valve Corporation as a consumer located in Australia, the video games come with guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law that cannot be excluded, including a guarantee that the video games are of acceptable quality. You are entitled to a replacement or refund from the retail supplier of the video games for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the video games repaired or replaced by the retail supplier of the video games if the video games fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure. Certain other rights are available directly against manufacturers that cannot be excluded or limited.”

Actual Meaning (Paragraph 2):

Games should work as intended when you buy them. If they don’t you can get a refund.

Thanks, Valve! It’s so enlightened of you to stop acting illegally and actually allow us to return faulty digital goods. You guys are truly ‘woke af’, as my kids say.

(My kids have never said that.)

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice (Paragraph 3):

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice - Paragraph 3
“Games should work as intended.” GEE, D’YA THINK? (Steam)

“The test for acceptable quality is whether a reasonable consumer, fully aware of the state and condition of the video games, would find them:

  • safe, durable and free from defects;
  • acceptable in appearance and finish; and
  • fit for all the purposes for which video games of that kind are commonly supplied. This must take into account the nature and price of the video games, and any statements on packaging or labelling.”

Actual Meaning (Paragraph 3):

Games should work as intended when you buy them. If they don’t you can get a refund.

Anyone else getting a sense of de ja vu here?

Also, advertisements about games aren’t supposed to lie about the game.

Side note: American English is weird and so the word ‘labelling’ is supposed to be spelt as ‘labeling’ – so your legal document has a typo.

I mean, unless you’re going to start actually doing things in a manner which befit Australians? Such as, oh I don’t know – showing our game prices in AUD instead of USD?

Good Old Games can do that for us.

Why can’t you?

Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice - Batman Arkham: Origins
This may be the very best screenshot I’ve EVER taken. (Batman Arkham: Origins)

Conclusion

Valve has only put this notice up because they lost a court case. Further, I think it’s safe to assume that they waited as long as they were legally allowed to before they did so. Two years. That’s just… no.

I was going to contact Steam support to ask them about this, but who has two weeks to sit around waiting to be told “we aren’t allowed to discuss that”, which is by far the most common reply I’ve gotten from them?

For instance, Batman: Arkham Origins removed multiplayer functionality but didn’t lower the price of the game. This means that Valve are demonstrably not implementing the things mentioned in the Steam Australian Consumer Rights Notice.

Ultimately, only one thing has changed – when we ask them to refund a game that’s been played for less than two hours or just plain doesn’t work, they have to say yes now.

You know – like they should have been doing all along.

If you enjoyed this article then why not check out some more similar ones on unethical gaming industry practices, such as loot boxes and their effect on the industry?

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Liam Padmore, sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania.