Steam told off by ASA for Grand Theft Auto 5 Summer Sale kerfuffle

Discount that wasn't really a discount was "misleading", unsurprisingly.

Valve has been told off by the Advertising Standards Agency for erroneously "misleading" people about a discount deal concerning the mega-popular Grand Theft Auto 5.

At the time (in June) Steam's sale page touted a 25 per cent discount for Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rock, Paper, Shotgun took some pictures at the time that illustrate this). 'Cor very nice,' everyone thought, 'the game's only been out a couple of months.'

But the discounted Grand Theft Auto 5 was only £1 cheaper than it normally was (£39.99) - how was that 25 per cent off? And why had the game's base price been suddenly upped to £51.98? Was this some sneaky way of slapping an eye-catching discount on a game that hadn't been discounted at all?

'Psst, you tell him off.' 'No - you!'

Truth is, the game hadn't been discounted but had been rolled into a special bundle that included an £11.99 cash card for Grand Theft Auto Online, previously only available in-game. Together they were discounted.

But even clicking through to the game's Steam page didn't clear things up. The bundle's contents listed only the discounted £51.98 GTA 5 game - the GTA Online cash card wasn't in the inventory, only referenced in the bundle's title. To make matters more confusing, GTA 5 couldn't be bought alone elsewhere on Steam at the time.

Why did this happen? Valve apparently told the ASA that Steam's software had gotten confused and mislabelled the new bundle. When the error was noticed, GTA 5 was returned to sale alone, sans discount, for £39.99 - but the weird original discount deal remained.

The ASA understandably deemed the whole thing "misleading", and ruled that "the ad must not appear again in its current form". "We told Steam to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead about the benefits available."

The ruling also mentioned claims against a Wolfensein: New Order Summer Sale price but these were not upheld.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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