Last week we reported on some sightings of a new and harsher region-locking system on Steam, users reported that they could not trade or gift certain games outside of their region any more. Now it appears as the new updates that have been made to the 'Steam Subscribers Agreement' states that if you live in the EU, you have the right to request a refund on any game you have purchased, within 14 days of said purchase. The catch however is that as soon as you install the game, you waive any rights for a refund.
14 Days To Request A Refund On Any Game Purchased on Steam As Long As You Don't Install it
The new updated section of the 'Steam Subscribers Agreement' under Part 3 'Billing, payment and other subscriptions' essentially states that, if you live in the EU, you have 14 days to request a "no questions asked" refund, as long as you have not installed the game. Which is pretty silly from a consumer standpoint, but it would appear that Valve is just covering their backs legally speaking. Below is the updated section:
"If you are an EU subscriber, you have the right to withdraw from a purchase transaction for digital content without charge and without giving any reason for a duration of fourteen days or until Valve's performance of its obligations has begun with your prior express consent and your acknowledgment that you thereby lose your right of withdrawal, whichever happens sooner. Therefore, you will be informed during the checkout process when our performance starts and asked to provide your prior express consent to the purchase being final."
This means that you will not be able to test the game if you intend to ask for a refund, nor will you be able to ask for a refund if you installed the game and found out that it was broken and buggy beyond redemption (several of the latest major AAA title releases comes to mind,) Valve's "performance of its obligations" will start the second you begin to download and install the game, since the "performance of its obligations" refer to letting you install 'your' game on their platform. In addition to this, Customers from New Zealand can theoretically get a refund if the game or software is not of "acceptable quality", this is due to New Zealand's Consumer Guarantees Act of 1993:
"If you are a New Zealand subscriber, notwithstanding anything in this Agreement, you may have the benefit of certain rights or remedies pursuant to the New Zealand Consumer Guarantees Act 1993,Under this Act are guarantees which include that software is of acceptable quality. If this guarantee is not met there are entitlements to have the software remedied (which may include repair, replacement or refund). If a remedy cannot be provided or the failure is of substantial character the Act provides for a refund."
Beyond this addition Valve has also added some quite strict rules on the use of IP-spoofing via VPN's or Proxy usage, namely the fact that you can now loose your account if you spoof your IP to appear outside of your geographic location to just unlock a game a day or two earlier (most of the time games release a day or two earlier in NA compared to EU,) then the stated release date in your region.
This new rule is most likely added to further enforce the previous rule about spoofing your IP to purchase games outside of your region (via Steam) with another currency, making it so that you would acquire the game cheaper than if you purchased it in your own region. The updated section is below:
"You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguise the place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography, or for any other purpose. If you do this, we may terminate your access to your Account."
Personally I think the new 14 day refund for EU-residents is not that great, since I won't be able to utilize it (I'm a Swedish resident,) since if I buy a game on Steam I would most likely install it. As for the new IP spoofing rule, well that's a major let down in my opinion, since I have in the past used VPN's to unlock games earlier, sometimes up to a week earlier than I would have gotten my hands on it normally. But I do understand the need for Valve to strongly enforce the rule about not "cheating" and buying games much cheaper from other regions, I myself have never spoofed my IP to get a game cheaper via Steam, but as I said I have unlocked games earlier.
Have you ever purchased a game outside of your region via Steam, and do these changes affect you in any way?