August 2014: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it will be suing Valve. The ACCC believed Valve was operating in breach of Australian consumer law.
Today, over a year later, there has been no resolution. We've confirmed with the ACCC that there won't be a resolution until March 2016 at the earliest.
The ACCC's issues stemmed from Valve's lack of a refund policy. Valve has since corrected this, providing consumers with the right to seek refunds in June 2015, but in August 2014 when the ACCC's application was made, no such policy existed. Back then, according to Valve, it was under no obligation to refund faulty digital goods. Therein lies the issue.
But with the new policy in place is there still an issue? The ACCC has declined to comment — understandable as the case is still in progress — but the ACCC is still pursuing legal action against Valve.
The next hearing has now been delayed until March 2016.
This was supposed to be done and dusted by now. Why the delay?
According to the ACCC, Valve essentially called in sick.
According to the ACCC, Valve were set to fly two witnesses over from the US to talk on game company's behalf. But this never transpired because the witnesses were sick. This is the main reason why the case has been delayed.
But these sort of delays are very common, the ACCC claimed. Courts work slowly and it's not unusual for delays like this to occur.
Valve's defence is an interesting one. In a response filed to the Federal Courts Valve claims it was not in breach of Australian Consumer Law. Simply put: Valve has denied it officially does business in Australia.
As per the response:
Valve Corporation does not admit that it carried on business in Australia although it admits that it has made available to Australian Consumers online access to use video games through Steam Client pursuant to the terms of a Steam Subscriber Agreement.
Valve Corporation denies that it supplied “goods” within the meaning of “consumer goods” in s 2(1) of the Australian Consumer Law. It says that it supplied “online access to video games via a subscription service”. It says that this is a “service” within s 2(1) of the Australian Consumer Law so that the consumer guarantee of acceptable quality in s 54 does not apply.
Valve is also claiming the Steam Subscriber agreement is not a contract to which the Australian Consumer Act applies, because the law of that agreement is the law of the State of Washington. Essentially — the Steam Subscriber Agreement has not been designed for Australian consumers and is therefore not applicable.
It's a complicated case and the courts will ultimately decide if Valve is/was in breach of Australian Consumer Law. We'll have to wait until March 2016 for the final decision.
We reached out to Valve for comment and will update if we hear back.