Ask LH: Can A Company Refuse To Support Its Mac Games?

Ask LH: Can A Company Refuse To Support Its Mac Games?

Hey Lifehacker, I’m running Batman: Arkham City on my Mac via Steam. On 21 December, it started crashing on launch every time I opened it. I emailed WB Games for support and didn’t receive a reply until 8 January, when I received some canned advice designed for Windows users. I emailed them to reiterate that the advice wasn’t relevant to Mac users, and received a reply this week that said “Sorry, we can’t help you because we don’t do Mac support”. Do I have any rights in this situation?

I replied asking what WB Games intended to do for me because they had wasted so much of my time and they responded that they were ending correspondence. Any advice? Thanks, Hugo Strange Behaviour

Dear HSB,

If WB Games wants to sell you a version of software designed specifically for Mac, it has to be willing to support it. Under Australian consumer law, products must be fit for purpose. Selling a Mac version unarguably suggests that you should be able to run the product, and that support should be offered if it doesn’t work.

Many software licences include sneaky and lengthy language to the effect that there is no guarantee that the product will work under a particular set of circumstances. However, those clauses can’t be used to override your basic consumer rights.

If WB Games isn’t willing to support the game, then you can ask for a refund. As we’ve explained before, you’re entitled to a refund if the product has a problem so pronounced that you would not have purchased it had you been aware of this. Mac software that doesn’t actually run on a Mac seems like an unarguable example of that kind of problem.

So what can you do? Since you purchased the game through Steam, that’s the channel you need to use to ask for your money back. Steam claims to have a no refund policy, but your rights as an Australian consumer can’t be overridden by such a clause if Steam wants to sell to Australians (Apple has also been forced to recognise this in similar circumstances). So hit Steam’s own support system and explain your issue. If you can’t get a satisfactory response, follow up with the relevant consumer affairs body in your state.

When you compose that initial email, stay courteous and stick to the issue at hand: you have been sold software that does not work, and you are entitled to a refund under Australian consumer law because of this. The fact that your time has been wasted, while annoying, isn’t relevant here.

Incidentally, had you been running a Windows game in Boot Camp or Parallels on your Mac and it hadn’t worked, it would be a much tougher case to argue. But as that’s not the situation here, I’d absolutely be pushing for a refund. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • If you can’t get a satisfactory response, follow up with the relevant consumer affairs body in your state.

    At which point they’ll say, they can’t do anything because it’s a US company.

    Valve goes out of it’s way to harm consumers. Don’t be fooled by the big “consumer friend” talk and fanboy-ism. Their policies are completely against the law here in Australia, yet at the same time they force the governments censorship regime down our throats. They pick the worst laws to enforce, and ignore the ones that are actually beneficial to consumers.

    • Got any source for Valve forcing censorship regimes down out throats? Which worst laws are they choosing to enforce and by implication, which laws are they choosing not to enforce?

      • I’m kinda confused by this. Doesn’t Australia have (or did have) more restricted censorship?

      • The fact they only sell games censored for Australia. Look at Left 4 Dead 2, as a simple example.

        • Blame the Australian classification board for that not steam. Steam would have sold the games as they originally were if not for the Australian classification board. Valve is not forcing censorship down our throats. They have to follow our classification laws for their products to be sold here.

          • No, they don’t have to follow our “classification” laws. They’re not an Australian company. They’re under no obligation whatsoever to follow those laws. Enforcement of those laws is done by the states, if a retailer sells a product that breaches the classification law, it’s up to the state police to act upon that and charge the retailer. That in mind, who will charge Valve if they sell goods without classification?

          • you are an idiot.

            ALL games in Australia need to be rated or approved or they can not be sold here. Now you are right, Valve could of shipped out un-censored games to Australia. which wouldn’t be legal to sell in Australia, and Australian retailers would of refused to sell or else get fined (i.e. waste of money for Valve manufacturing said discs) but it makes no sense to do so, as they would not sell.

            So after the game had been rated they had a choice; either alter the game to meet Australian rating standards, or not sell it in Australia. something you will notice is that Left 4 Dead 2 is a region free game on all consoles it was released for. I believe this was done for the Australian Consumers benefit. I own an American copy which works fine on my Xbox, without the censoring

            Now if you are talking about Digital games from Steam, Whilst they might not be an Australian company they do sell to Australia, so they have to follow our consumer laws. fullstop.

        • Yep, of course Valve spent money making a separate version of the game just to spite Australia….

          • Basically. They prefer to position it more as bending to the will of our government’s censors though. End result is the same. All totally unnecessary, especially if they had a “customers first” attitude, which they clearly don’t.

          • How about you direct your hate to the people actually at fault in this matter? The Australia Classification board. Valved is simply following our classification laws so they are able to do business in Australia. If Valve simply ignored our laws, The government would make the Sale of those games on steam illegal in Australia. Is that what you want?

          • They’re already breaking Australian law. They’re breaking consumer laws, as was the original discussion. People don’t seem to care about that though. They pick and chose what laws they want to abide by, harming consumers in the process.

            Additionally, the’re under no obligation to abide by Australian laws. They’re not an Australian entity. Enforcement of classification laws is done by the states. If a retailer sells a product that breaches the classification law, it’s up to the state police to act upon that and charge the retailer. That in mind, who will charge Valve if they sell goods without classification?

          • there is obviously no getting through to you, you seem to just be a person hating on Valve for the sake of hating when everyone else likes Valve. Ive had no problems with them. I had an issue with a game that would not run and they happily provided a refund

          • You’re yet to provide a reason why Valve should be allowed to pick and chose the laws in complies to. “There is no getting through to you” is the argument you use when your point has been refuted and you don’t want to back down.

          • If Valve refused to comply with the Classification Board, Left 4 Dead 2 would have been banned and they would not have been allowed to sell it here at all. If they had sold it in open defiance of the law, they would have been fined.

            It doesn’t matter what country they are based in – it matters that they are providing a product to Australian consumers. Our laws kick in the second a company provides products or services to Australian consumers, regardless of where they are based.

  • A Google search that took all of 3 seconds shows why WB don’t support that game on Mac.

    It wasn’t released on mac by WB. It was ported by an entirely separate 3rd party called “Feral Interactive”. If you need support for your product you will probably get a better result contacting the people who actually released it.

    FYI this is common on the mac. Big developer releases high profile game, no-name brand ports it (often badly) to OS X. See Aspyr for reference.

      • Support desks roles aren’t commonly filled with people who think outside the box. Or in this case, a pretty logical assumption, but they could have been a newb.

  • I had a look at the Steam Refund Policy which states

    …we do not offer refunds or exchanges on games, DLC or in-game items purchased on our website or through the Steam Client.

    This is a perfectly legitimate and acceptable policy, but would only be applicable in cases where the purchaser had changed their mind or wanted an exchange or refund for personal reasons. It does not and cannot have any bearing on a consumer’s statutory rights with regards to the purchased item being defective or not fit for purpose.

    Interestingly, it goes on to say that additional information can be found in Section 3 of their subscriber agreement, although Section 3 of this agreement contains no relevant information.

    The difficulty in software support cases lies in the burden of proof. Arguable, there’s actually nothing wrong with the software, and in fact HSB states that it was at one point working. Neither WB Games nor Valve are responsible for HSB’s Mac, how it’s configured, what other software is installed, etc. While Valve do provide support for steam, there’s actually nothing in the Subscriber Agreement that guarantees it for customers.

    HSB should probably have a read through Section 12, which is specifically regarding dispute resolution and advises the subscriber to attempt to resolve issues via their support system (as per Angus’ advice). It’s worthwhile understanding this before contacting them and especially before taking it further.

    • Further on this, Steam is happy to offer refunds for products that do not work as advertised. The original Steam release of The War Z is a good example.

    • Here’s an interesting situation. Skyrim is a steam works game, which can be purchased through a retailer – and will only work by activating via Steam. If you were to purchase Skyrim from JB HiFi, go home to install it (which requires the Steam activation) – that key is now used permanently.

      If for some reason the product does not work as advertised, you return it to JB HiFi for a refund. Because under our consumer law, this is legal and you are entitled.

      What happens now? Your Steam account “owns” the game, but the physical media you purchased has now been refunded (and is also useless).

  • You could also take up an avenue with Paypal if you used Paypal to pay for the product via Steam.

  • Codemasters is the same.

    Grid 2 does NOT work on many peoples computers with a Nvidia 6xx series graphics card.
    i done my own EXTENSIVE testing
    (2 machines, 4 different cards excluding getting my 660ti swapped by my computer shop)
    it turns out, the nvidia 6xx graphics cards and the following games:
    F1 2011
    F1 2012
    F1 2013
    Grid 2
    all have the same issue, the drivers crash, the game will continue in the background, however the screen is just black.
    (btw, machine was wiped everytime, only running a 60 gig ssd, took maybe an hour per graphics card, always latest drivers, but with the nvidia stuff, went a few earlier ones too
    ATI 4870, 4890 had no issues
    nvidia 660ti and 690 i think had issues)

    I stopped dealing with Codemasters after 3 months, as they were unable to help.
    they have recognised the issue, however, they 4 months after they did so, have not done anything at all to rectify it.

    steam won’t give me a refund though.

    but at the end of the day, from now on, i won’t buy any of codemasters games.

  • Not sure where your game is crashing, However I have an issue with both Origin and Steam attempting to start ME2. This occured after an EA update to fix the steam issue of not being able to connect to the digital server for the digital deluxe version.

    However If i go to the file path and run the .exe manually it works.

    Give that a try while not perfect it does work for me.

  • It sounds like HSB was running the game fine up until ‘something’ changed and it stopped working.
    From the small amount of information provided it sounds like a update to somethign has broken the game. So it could very well have nothing to do with the game itself, rather a driver update or OS change.
    Claiming a refund for a game that you have played for many hours (an assumption) will not happen

    • Claiming a refund for a game that you have played for many hours (an assumption) will not happen

      Why not?

      • Because it is then a used product. Otherwise it is just a case of buying a game, completing and then asking for a refund.

        • If a mobile phone is used for a year and then goes belly up, you get a new one. Even if it’s used.

          • Whilst Tigerion was correct, his reason was off the mark – it doesn’t matter if the product is used or not, it’s because logically, the game has been operating perfectly well up until that point, thus the game is not at fault.
            The tech support person can easily point this out, and suggest the OP back up their machine and return it to a default state, and then try running the game. If it keeps crashing then, he possibly may have a case for a refund, however tech support, now knowing it used to work are more likely to pursue getting it to work again, than refund.

            However, if the game has been crashing from the start, and his machine meets the specs outlined, then he has a stronger case to argue.

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