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Episode Seven - Opening the Valve to the Consumer Guarantees (ACCC v Valve)

In this episode, t he Joels wade into the realm of the consumer guarantees and gaming, examining the facts behind the landmark case of ACCC v Valve Corporation that confirmed the extension of consumer guarantee rights (and the broader Australian Consumer Law) to businesses overseas operating into Australia.

In 2014, the ACCC commenced proceedings against Valve Corporation – the United States based company that operates the ‘Steam’ gaming platform – alleging that they had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by misrepresenting to consumers that were not entitled to remedies provided by the Australian Consumer Law.

The Federal Court found that Valve was required to comply with the ACL (as it was carrying on business in Australia – separately to the ACL content, this case is very important in determining whether an overseas entity ‘carries on business’ in Australia) and that it had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by having content like “ALL CHARGES INCURRED ON STEAM, AND ALL PURCHASES MADE WITH THE STEAM WALLET, ARE PAYABLE IN ADVANCE AND ARE NOT REFUNDABLE IN WHOLE OR IN PART, REGARDLESS OF THE PAYMENT METHOD, EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY SET FORTH IN THIS AGREEMENT.” (yes, the all caps was necessary. It is something you tend to see in US contracts) and “As with most downloadable software products, we do not offer refunds for purchases made through Steam – please review Section 4 of the Steam Subscriber Agreement for more information.” In their terms and conditions and refund policies.

Valve appealed the decision to the Full Court of the Federal Court, which upheld the decision. A subsequent request to appeal to the High Court was rejected.

Valve was ordered to pay a $3 million penalty in 2017.

(For the sake of clarity, Lisk's current Steam Library has 187 games in it and Grieger still calls it 'Stream')

This is the seventh episode of Keeping Up with the Consumer Law. Keeping Up with the Consumer Law is financially supported by the Law Foundation of South Australia.


Want to learn more about anything we’ve discussed?

  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Valve Corporation (No 3) [2016] FCA 196:

  • Valve Corporation v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [2017] FCAFC 224:

  • ACCC: Full Federal Court confirms that Valve misled gamers (22 December 2017) ⁠

  • ACCC: Valve to pay $3 million in penalties for misrepresenting gamers’ consumer rights (3 January 2017)

Case Note: ACCC v Valve
Download • 116KB

Get in touch with Grieger and Lisk at ⁠⁠, where you can also find out more about our up-and-coming multi-level marketing program.

Keeping Up with the Consumer Law is intended to be for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Does this episode raise any questions for you about how you can use the ACL or what your obligations are under the ACL? We recommend seeing a lawyer, head over to ⁠⁠ for more information

Keeping Up with the Consumer Law is recorded and produced on Kaurna Country.



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