Valve and Ubisoft have been found to be in breach of French law, with the two companies being penalized with a monetary fine of €147,000 and €180,000 respectively.
The fines, imposed by the Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF), also require the two companies to display a notice on their storefronts informing French consumers of the penalty.
DGCCRF’s decision appears to be the result of both companies violating three Articles of the French Consumer Code: L221-5, L221-28 13°, and L221-18. In simple terms, the two companies failed to offer refunds as required per the French Consumer Code and failed to inform consumers of the lack of said consumer protection.
Article L221-18 of the French Consumer Code states that consumers have a right to demand refund for a period of up to 14 days from the date of purchase. Valve does offer refunds for that period on Steam, but not if a game has been played for longer than two hours – which appears to be the problem. Ubisoft, on the other hand, offers no refunds on digital purchases made via Uplay.
Interestingly, as stated in Article L221-5, storefronts are allowed to get around this consumer protection by explicitly informing buyers “in a readable and understandable manner” the lack of such rights. The two companies failed to do so.
Valve saw a similar fine imposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in April earlier this year. The company was also found to be in violation of European consumer laws at large, along with Sony, EA, and Nintendo, by the Norwegian Consumer Council around the same time.
French consumers should now notice a message on the two storefronts informing them of the fines. Valve and Ubisoft are also likely to update their Terms of Service and perhaps add a warning during checkout, informing buyers of the lack of proper consumer protection.