Steam Refund Policy

Thu 04 June 2015, tagged:

If you haven’t heard, steam is offering a refund scheme to players.

Anyone can get a refund if

  • they’ve played the game for less than two hours.
  • they’ve owned the game for less than 14 days.
  • they ask for it.
  • they aren’t taking the piss by repeatedly asking for refunds.

At the end of the day players need a way to get their money back. Some games are a total abuse of steam and players. This is inevitable within any system and it’s only right to weed those devs practices out. While it may be possible for players to abuse the new system it’s never fair that it’s possible for developers to abuse players. So on the one hand I applaud the Steam team for confronting this poisoning of the well by the few bad devs and keeping the well clean for the rest of us. However I do have some concerns and it’s mostly about how developers will respond, not players:

14 days/Two hours

As an old man I regularly go 14 days where I can’t find two hours to play a game. As a youngster, especially, during the holidays, I had a seemingly infinite amount of time to play games so this would have been amazing. I would predict a lot of churn of the store as gamers churn through endless games trying them for two hours… however:

Refunds are designed to remove the risk from purchasing titles on Steam—not as a way to get free games. If it appears to us that you are abusing refunds, we may stop offering them to you. We do not consider it abuse to request a refund on a title that was purchased just before a sale and then immediately rebuying that title for the sale price.

So hopefully this will stop the churn, the heuristic that Steam uses can make or break the system.

DLC Crap

These new rules also apply to DLC. Some DLC is utter tripe and clearly there to take money from the weak or gullable. Getting refunds on this is totally appropriate. I’d actually rather see a much stricter system where if a DLC is constantly getting refunded it’s taken down from the store until the developer can justify it’s inclusion. Actually I’d rather see micro DLC’s banned but I’m old so I’ll ignore it.

Unintended Consequences

As a game dev I’ll admit that we always front load the gameplay and testing to the early stages of the game. We know that most gamers will not make it to the end boss and we want as many people as possible to have a great experience. With limited resources we priorities the areas of the game that most people will experience.

This doesn’t mean we don’t care about the end of the game but, being honest, it does get slightly less attention than the beginning.

However, for some, this hard limit of two hours will force them (or maybe even allow them) to only concentrate on the first two hours leaving the rest of the game a bit of a waste land.

How to stop developers doing this is a much harder problem. The only thing I can think is for players to review games and that’s pretty much how it works now.

What ever rules Steam enforce will be abused by some game developers and I believe that abuse is more detremental than any abuse that players can throw at Steam (not that I would condone any abuse by players against the ramen eating developers of the world).

Will this stop any dev using steam?

NO. Actually it will probably make steam a better place. Steam has all the players and a great community as well.

See how our game, Smith and Winston, is doing IndieDB.

Smith and Winston