Legal matters really have a tendency to drag out and it can sometimes take many months to settle something that should otherwise be simple and straightforward. Recently, we’ve been seeing a massive surge in GTA V sales and discounts across all platforms – real discounts -, even on Steam. Many of you may be confused by that emphasis, as Steam is known for its legendary sales, deals and discounts. However, this wasn’t always so in the case of GTA V, and only a few months ago getting your hands on a legal copy of GTA V for less than the standard AAA game full price was pretty darn difficult.
One possibility has historically been the huge Steam Summer Sale, where many had hoped to see a discount on Rockstar’s blockbuster. True enough, on the opening day of the sale , GTA V’s banner was slapped with the little green rectangle housing the little white percentage, showing just how much you’ll be saving.
In truth, if you bought the game then, you saved nothing. Just before the sale, GTA V’s price on Steam was drastically increased so that when the discount was applied, the final price to be paid was identical to the un-discounted regular, full AAA price. You’re right, that doesn’t seem fair to us either!
And as you might imagine, this caused quite the stir among gamers, as they thought that Rockstar or Valve were resorting to underhanded tactics, enticing the unwitting customer into a full priced purchase with a false discount. As it turned out, this version of GTA V (the only one available at the time) was bundled with a Shark Cash Card for use in GTA Online. Now, the card was one of the smaller ones, in no way validating the price difference, however the inclusion of the DLC made the game non-refundable.
The Advertising Standards Authority has since ruled against Valve in the matter.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 (Prices).
While Valve won’t be subject to any sort of punishment as such (i.e. no fine) they must not run that advertisement again. In addition, Steam has been put on notice by the ASA that any future savings claims made on Steam must not mislead customers about the benefits that might be available (like whether a Shark Cash Card is included, or how much the actual discount is off the regular price).