Thursday, December 28, 2017

Valve isn't as consumer-friendly as you might think

In 2015 Valve implemented the now famous refund policy on Steam: Within 14 days, or 2 hours of gameplay (whichever comes first) you are allowed to refund a game you have purchased, no questions asked. The media and the public lauded Valve for being so consumer-friendly, and one of the very few good and fair corporations out there. It seemed to be a fresh deviation from the corporate greed we are all so accustomed to.

What the vast majority of people don't know, however, is why Valve suddenly decided to implement this policy. The reality is that Valve didn't do so because they were thinking what's best for their customers. They did it because they were thinking what's best for Valve. It was purely for self interest.

After all, Valve's non-refund policy prior to this change was quite strong. For example, customers in the EU had, in principle, the right to a 14-day refund of any purchases, but there is a caveat in these EU laws that state that a customer may waive this right by agreeing with a contract with the seller, and Valve fully used this. When you purchased a game from Steam, one of the conditions in the license was precisely your waiver of this refund right.

What caused the sudden change in Valve's refund policy? Was it because Valve had a change of heart and wanted to do something good for their customers?

No. It was because the Australian government sued Valve because the non-refund policy is directly against Australian law. No buts, ifs, maybes, or waivers allowed. The change in the Steam refund policy was in direct response to this lawsuit. Valve was trying to defend themselves against this, and any future similar lawsuits.

We shouldn't really be lauding Valve for this pro-consumer change. We should really be thanking the Australian government.

(All this information came from this video by SidAlpha.)

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