Have you ever purchased a game from Steam, and found out quickly it wasn’t what you thought it was, or just wasn’t very good? Maybe it was a game all your friends were playing, or maybe it was the new hyped up big release. Maybe you realized you actually needed the money for something else more important, but that money was now gone, thrown into the burning pit that is Valve’s gaping digital-distribution hole. Well whatever your reasons are or were for wishing you had that money back, fret no more. Steam announced the other day that you can now get a refund for a game purchased, for any reason. Don’t like it, can’t play it due to an underpowered computer, developer said something you don’t like on Twitter, it doesn’t matter!
There are a few, common sense restrictions associated with the service. You cannot have owned the title for more than 14 days, and you must have less than 2 hours of playtime on the game. So if you’re iffy on a game, don’t accidentally leave it on idly while you’re cooking dinner, as you’re just eating up precious refund time at that point. One last restriction that matters, if you’re banned from a game due to VAC violations, you cannot refund the game. Also Steam said they’re gonna be on the lookout for people abusing the system, which take that for what it is, as Steam is pretty much crap on the service front.
While this new system is great on its face, and is definitely a good step in the pro-consumer direction, it is not perfect. Some game developers, such as Nina Freeman are worried about games that take less than 2 hours to have a full playthrough. This essentially makes the game free as someone could play it, then get a refund, leaving the developer with nothing. While this sort of experience is probably in the minority of gaming, it should be addressed by Valve. Gaming is not as much a one-size fits all pastime anymore, and Valve should work with the developers of these bite-sized titles to fix this issue that could become a bigger problem. Maybe flagging a certain part of the game, made clear to the player as the point of no refund. I have no clue, I am not a developer, nor do I really tend to return games I buy. But something should be done on that front.
But that edge-case problem aside, this is definitely a positive development for the service. With such a large catalogue of games, there is definitely bad stuff in there that people should avoid, and may not realize that fact right away. Empowering a buyer with more options tends to be a better choice most of the time. While it isn’t perfect, it is a great first step, and should be revised and perfected with time. So for now, good on you Steam. If you have any further questions about the new system, head to the link above that answers some questions.