A years-long legal battle between Valve and the Australian Full Court (AFC) appears to have reached its conclusion earlier today after the Australian high court denied an attempted appeal by the game developer.
On Jan. 3, 2017, Valve was issued a fine of $3 million Australian dollars ($2.3 million U.S.) after the country’s Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found it guilty of violating the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The fine was issued roughly three years after the ACCC took legal action against Valve in 2014, claiming that the company had intentionally misled customers in its user agreement. In addition, the commission claimed that Valve failed to provide any recourse for dissatisfied customers and did not ensure that the products sold on the Steam platform were of acceptable quality.
Valve entered an appeal to the AFC’s decision on Feb. 20, 2017, the last possible day. But today the high court was unanimous in declining the Seattle-based company its appeal—meaning the AFC’s ruling is final.
“If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a repair, replacement or refund as if they’d walked in to a store,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said in a statement.
Valve has been embroiled in a number of both state- and federal-level court cases concerning everything from skin gambling, to loot boxes over the past four years. Now the company can add consumer-related issues to the list. On April 19, the Dutch gambling authority issued warnings to game developers that four specific games could be outlawed if they don’t change their implementation of loot boxes within the next eight weeks.
Specifically, the gambling authority mentioned that any game that allows users to trade loot boxes on marketplaces, thus giving them economic value, would be targeted. Valve’s Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive feature such systems, though the Dutch gambling authority didn’t name which games it was referring to.
The ATC has not specified a date for when Valve is expected to pay its fine, but with the ACCC as the clear winner of the case, Valve is now seems legally obligated to pay up.