The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled that Valve's Steam service breached Australian consumer law.
A disagreement between Valve and the ACCC kicked off in 2014 when the Steam owner was sued over its lack of refund policy. Such a policy was eventually introduced last year, but that doesn't alter the lawsuit, which was filed before Steam's policy alteration.
Valve had argued that it doesn't actually conduct its business in Australia and that, by definition, it does not offer ‘goods' in the region.
Kotaku reports that the courts have rejected this argument, however, saying that Steam's policies do not free it of the obligation to give any Australian customer with a faulty or defective product a full refund.
The Federal Court's decision reinforces that foreign based businesses selling goods and/or services to Australian consumers can be subject to Australian Consumer Law obligations, including the consumer guarantees,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
In this case, Valve is a US company operating mainly outside Australia, but, in making representations to Australian consumers, the Federal Court has found that Valve engaged in conduct in Australia. It is also significant that the Court held that, in any case, based on the facts, Valve was carrying on business in Australia.”
It's not yet known what sort of financial penalty Valve will incur, although it looks likely to face a hefty court bill as it will probably need to cover a large portion of the ACCC's costs. That will all be decided next month.