Valve loses appeal to Australian High Court, will pay $2.3m fine

Valve loses appeal to Australian High Court, will pay $2.3m fine

PC games giant Valve has been fined $3m after the company lost an appeal to the High Court of Australia.

The case began life in 2014, when regional body the Austalian Competition Consumer Commission brought a lawsuit against Valve due to what it perceived as the company misleading consumers with its refund policies.

In short - it did not have them, and would not have them until June 2015.

When the case was eventually heard in 2016, Valve argued that it wasn't selling products in Australia, and therefore the local laws didn't apply to it. As it was shifting digital products, Valve reckoned it was not actually doing business in the region. Additionally. Valve argued that what it was selling - digital games - did not constitute "goods" under Australian law.

The judge ruling the case did not agree, saying that Valve had 2.2m customers in the Australia, as well as game servers and content delivery networks.

At the end of 2017, Justice Edelman of the Federal Court of Australia fined the company AU$3m, a decision that Valve appealed straight away and has now lost. 

"This important precedent confirms the ACCC's view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws," said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court.

"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."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.