Australia’s competition regulator announced Monday afternoon that EB Games, the largest specialist games retailer in Australia and New Zealand, has agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking to refund anyone who bought Fallout 76 between November 14, 2018 and October 31, 2019.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced in a release that the games retailer had admitted “they are likely to have misled consumers about their consumer guarantee rights” over Fallout 76. Customers tried to get a refund for the game shortly after launch, but were rebuffed by EB Games despite citing problems with the game, such as glitches and server outages.
EB Games’ move comes several months after the ACCC forced Zenimax, Bethesda’s parent company, to issue refunds to customers. Zenimax had previously refused to issue refunds to Australians, saying that Aussies had no right to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law if they had bought the game through the online Bethesda store, or a third-party retailer.
The ACCC was concerned that certain statements made by representatives engaged by or on behalf of EB Games in response to complaints by customers that the Fallout 76 game they had purchased from EB Games was faulty were likely to have conveyed false or misleading representations to the effect that:
Australian consumers had no entitlement to any refunds from EB Games for Fallout 76 games when downloadable content (DLC) or ‘one use codes’ were redeemed or used;
Australian consumers had no entitlement to any refunds from EB Games for Fallout 76 games outside of the EB Games’ ‘7 day satisfaction guarantee’;
Australian consumers had no entitlement to refunds when the developers or publishers of the Fallout 76 game were providing patches; and/or
EB Games had modified or restricted statutory consumer guarantees/warranties in relation to Fallout 76 games purchased by Australian consumers.
EB Games acknowledges that its conduct is likely to have misled certain Australian consumers about their rights under the ACL in connection with the statutory consumer guarantees and is likely to have contravened sections 18 and 29(1)(m) of the ACL.
The launch of Fallout 76 was beset with all kinds of problems. Players had to deal with campsites that kept breaking, supremely restrictive inventory limits, poor optimisation at launch, glitched Power Armour suits, and a bug on the official support page exposing users’ personal information.
And that wasn’t even the biggest controversy. The Power Armour special edition of the game promoted a canvas duffel bag, but when users received their goods, they found a low-quality nylon bag instead. Replacements for those were finally sent out several months after the game’s launch.
Fallout 76 has since come a long way, and the Wastelanders update has left the game in a much better place. But the whole saga has served to remind global publishers that if you release a game with substantial problems at release, Australian customers are entitled to refunds, whether or not they’re buying from a server in North America, or a physical store in a Melbourne mall.
The ACCC has this advice for anyone who was refused a refund by EB Games:
Consumers who are eligible for a refund from EB Games because they were denied a refund should contact EB Games before 1 August 2020 by emailing the EB Games Customer Service Centre at [email protected] to request a refund.
Consumers who accept a refund will lose their entitlement to access and play the game.