We all eventually discovered that our close, personal and entirely fictional relationship with Valve did not entitle us to any kind of refund on our purchases.
But it took the better part of a decade for enough people to start noticing that Steam’s refund policy wasn’t so much a “policy” as the words “eat shit and die” printed in huge size 72 font and to start raising hell about it. We were used to buying our PC games in stores, and we had recourse if they didn’t work. We could go talk to someone. Steam never provided that luxury, and it still doesn’t.
The occasional no-refund horror story was dismissed as the exception, not the rule. It didn’t cause near enough to damage the Good Guy Valve golden brand, and an incredible 11 years passed before enough people were possessed of enough indignant fury to actually complain to the authorities.
Players began noting that was Valve was doing was wildly illegal, pointing out quite accurately that under European Union law, consumers were entitled to a refund on all purchases — even for something as simple as changing their mind.
Never one to shy away from a little thing like “breaking the law,” Good Guy Valve quickly came up with a solution: an entirely new EULA custom made for the good gamers of the European Union, which specifically acknowledges that they have a legal right to a refund … and then immediately forces them to waive it if they want to purchase the game.
Eighteen months of drama unfolded in the Australian Federal Court from 2014 through 2016, as the Washington software giant used every trick in the book to stall the ongoing, inevitably damning case against it.
Valve, backed into a corner and hissing like a cat that doesn’t want to go to the vet, pulled out all the stops to avoid providing the required financial information — to the point where a seemingly infuriated and exasperated Judge Edelman blasted Valve for “overkill” and issued the most politely worded legalese version of “go to hell” that anybody has ever committed to paper.