Steamed – Advertising Standards Agency Reprimands Valve over GTAV ‘Sale’

Rockstar Games/Take-Two Interactive
Rockstar Games/Take-Two Interactive

The Advertising Standards Agency is taking Valve to task for its “misleading” discount of Grand Theft Auto V during its Summer Sale in June.

The store page at the time listed Grand Theft Auto V as having a 25% discount. That wasn’t the case, however. The game had in fact been rolled into a bundle with an in-game “Shark” cash card for GTA Online. Purchasing the two items together resulted in the listed discount, but that’s not how it appeared in the store.

The cash card wasn’t separately listed in the bundle, only referenced in the description. Instead, Grand Theft Auto V was itself marked up in price to include the card, and then the discount was applied to this new higher price. That alone was a pretty poor decision, but it was made worse because you couldn’t actually purchase Grand Theft Auto 5 alone at the time.

Valve claims that Steam’s software had simply gotten confused, and — according to the ASA report — “mislabelled the stand-alone game.” When the error was noticed, the game was returned to individual sale, sans bundled cash card. Still, the original poorly-explained deal remained available for purchase, leaving many customers further confused.

While a similar complaint was made regarding the sale of Wofenstein: The New Order, the ASA chose to uphold only the complaints made regarding Grand Theft Auto V. Their ruling mandates. “The ad must not appear again in its current form,” and that Steam must “ensure their future savings claims did not mislead about the benefits available.”

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