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ACCC Call For Digital Retailer To Face $3 Million Fine

A price has finally been put on Valve Corp’s defiance of Australian consumer protection laws, with ACCC arguing that the owner of the digital distribution channel Steam should be fined $3 million dollars for failing to offer a refund policy

The case between the regulator and the Seattle-based video game company has dragged on since 2014. At that time, Steam operated under a policy of refusing to offer refunds.

Valve addressed this shortcoming last year by, implementing a comprehensive policy that complied with both demands from Australian regulators and other consumer rights groups.

In court, the ACCC argued that Valve should be fined $3 million dollars “in order to achieve both specific and general deterrents, and also because of the serious nature of the conduct”.

Naomi Sharp, presiding counsel for the ACCC, argued that Valve’s senior management was “involved in the misconduct” and violation of Australian consumer law by advertising that Steam had a “standalone policy to not give refunds” in the Steam Subscriber Agreement.

Valve’s attorneys argued that there was “no finding that Valve’s conduct was intended to mislead or deceive consumers,” suggesting a $250,000 fine as an alternative.

The ACCC asserted that a penalty of this size would prove inadequate, given Valve’s annual earnings.

Steam is the biggest digital distributor for video games worldwide with over 125 million active users, bringing in $3.5 billion in revenue in 2015.

Justice Edelman will hand down his ruling by mid-December or January.