Valve misled customers during the Steam Summer Sale, says UK’s Advertising Authority

The discount on GTA V was misleading

Back during the Steam Summer Sale, there was a fairly large uproar about the pricing of Grand Theft Auto V. Between the game’s launch and the Summer Sale, GTA V cost £39.99. Suddenly once the sale began, the original version of GTA V was not available for sale, and instead the only products advertised were the game bundled with other things such as cash cards for GTA Online. This was sold for £51.99, but with a 25% discount making it cost £39.98.

The argument people made was that the 25% discount wasn’t genuine because that product hadn’t existed before the sale, and the original version of GTA V was only £1.01 more expensive.

Not only that, but due to an error the original version of GTA V was included in the sale for a few hours, before it later was unceremoniously removed.

This argument managed to make its way to the UK Advertising Standards Authority, an organisation who deal with companies and their shady advertising. We now, five months later, finally have a ruling on this mess, and they’ve confirmed that Valve was in fact in the wrong for allowing that sale of GTA V.

The ASA ruled that Valve did intentionally mislead customers. Due to the £39.99 original game and the £51.98 bundle being advertised side-by-side (even accidentally), the ASA believes there was a reasonable expectation that the discount would apply to both products.

It wasn’t the fact that the only version available later on in the sale was the bundled, more expensive version that has Valve in trouble. It’s the accidental listing of both versions together when one of them wasn’t given the discount that did it.

The ASA has demanded that Valve not show those sales in that way ever again, and must ensure that all future discounts are not misleading.

You can read the entire ruling in all of its confusing glory on the ASA website. It will be interesting to see if there are any changes to how discounts are shown in the UK come the big Winter Steam Sale because of this.

Joe Parlock