Steam now offering refunds

For "any reason" if you play under two hours and apply within 14 days of purchase

Valve has made the major step of introducing refunds to its Steam retail platform, with fairly generous terms and conditions.

"You can request a refund for nearly any purchase on Steam-for any reason. Maybe your PC doesn't meet the hardware requirements; maybe you bought a game by mistake; maybe you played the title for an hour and just didn't like it," Valve said.

"It doesn't matter. Valve will, upon request via, issue a refund for any reason, if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours. There are more details below, but even if you fall outside of the refund rules we've described, you can ask for a refund anyway and we'll take a look."

The move has caused concern among some developers though.

Refunds can apply to DLC, in-game items, pre-purchased titles, bundles and the Steam Wallet. Players that have been banned by VAC (the Valve Anti-Cheat system) on a game lose the right to refund that game. A full list of conditions is available here.

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Latest comments (14)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
There's apparently an update in the works to fix the "Being offline doesn't count to playtime" problem, so that shouldn't be an issue. I certainly doubt they'd release this into the wild without having some counter to it.

The logistics must indeed be pretty impressive - consider, say, the latest Ubisoft games. When bought on Steam, they give you a key to redeem them on Uplay (because UPlay is forced on you). So, when the refund is processed, Valve must not only remove the game from your Steam Library, but also inform Ubisoft of the key they issued, so it can be revoked from the user's UPlay account. Hefty back-end work.

As regards to the 2 hour limit and short-games, all media have this issue to some extent. There's many books I can order off of Amazon, read over a couple of days, and then return with the excuse that I ordered it as a present and they didn't want it. Whilst it's a concern, I also think it shows an utter lack of faith in the system, and consumers.

But there's also the fact that anyone who really cares about playing short indie games is not going to do this. The people who will abuse the system like this are the people who claim Gone Home is "not a game", but still want to try it out. These people, though, were never really going to pay actual money for your game. They may pirate it, they may wait for it to be bundled with 6 other games for $2, but they would never pay the $20/15 that Gone Home cost on release, because they don't think it's what gaming should be about.

So, yes, they may buy-complete-refund a short indie game. But that's merely an easier form of pirating, which they were doing anyway. Factor in the (I expect fairly low) tolerance from Valve for abusers, and "boy who cried wolf" scenarios, and I don't think it's that much of an issue.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd June 2015 11:05pm

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Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games4 years ago
This is great news. I've been telling people they'd have to do that eventually.

However, I think a much better system that is safer for both consumers and Valve alike, is to offer a refund a few hours/days after a title is fully downloaded for the first time. This fixes many issues, like the above mentioned that people may play things for days during offline mode.

Right now, most of us have been buying games on steam sales that we only got to play a year or so after the purchase. If refunds happened only after you downloaded a game for the first time, we are still free to buy games any time we want without a worry, and Valve knows when games have been fully downloaded by an account and will give the user only 1 or 3 days to refund after that, which is much better than the 14 days rule right now that is very open to exploits.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
If this works out maybe we'll get some version of it on consoles for all online purchases.
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Show all comments (14)
Terry Lee Producer, Square Enix Europe4 years ago
I wonder if I can get my refund for colonial marines now then. Its past 14 days of purchase but that game was just terrible. I only managed 100 minuets of it before I had to turn it off.
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Andrew Watson Tools Programmer 4 years ago
This is also great news for people who like to try out games before they buy them. If a game doesn't have a demo version, the only way to try it out before buying is either to pirate it (and then later buy it if they like it), or watch some let's plays on youtube (which isn't the same as trying it yourself).

Now you can buy a game and play it for a bit to see if you want to commit to buying, which is really nice.
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard4 years ago
@Robert, It's a nice idea for consumers, but I doubt it's going to happen. It would mean that Valve would not be able to spend any of the money from a game that was purchased until two weeks after it was downloaded. I've got a number of games in my Steam account that I have never downloaded. I'm not unusual in this position. This article: estimates that around a third of purchased Steam games have never been played. Assuming they have also never been downloaded, that could mean that Valve would be unable to touch around 1/3 of its revenue in case the purchasers eventually came around demanding their money back.
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Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games4 years ago
it would mean that Valve would not be able to spend any of the money from a game that was purchased until two weeks after it was downloaded.
Yes Christopher, someone mentioned this argument a well on another website. It could still be done by giving a 1 or 2 month period for refund then, or 2-3 days after the initial download. Whatever came first. Sometimes during steam sales people may buy 8, 10 games, in a short period and that means you have to pretty much download and test almost one game a day, which is a lot if you work and have other responsibilities.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Mac-Donald on 3rd June 2015 3:55pm

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George Williams Owner 4 years ago
I welcome this move. Why? Maybe if certain publishers didn't publish unfinished games, under delivered on promises, players wouldn't be demanding refunds.

I purchased a popular RTS with Rome and 2 in the title and all the hype surrounding it made it to be the best RTS ever. Oh how far from the truth was it? Angry Joes review kinda sums up just how bad that game was. I wanted a refund, I pre-purchased and felt cheated but I wasn't allowed one and I haven't touched it since launch.

Again, its the poor small Indie who could bare the brunt of this but gamers are smarter than that and will happily support them in most cases. So in a nutshell, stop ripping off your customers with unfinished muck.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by George Williams on 3rd June 2015 3:58pm

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@George Rome 2 is way better than launch now. Not that that would be hard but you should definitely dive in and give it another look.
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Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe4 years ago
This is certainly a good and friendly move for customers. Knowing Valve I believe there will be some rough corners to tackle until it properly works. At the moment it looks too simple and too easy to abuse.
The two-hour rule should be a dynamic rule depending on the sold game.

Its also good to bust developers/publishers who release something on steam in a horrible or broken quality and customers can finally simply shove it back to them.
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Farhang Namdar Lead Game Designer Larian Studios 4 years ago
Good job Valve, it really looks like the industry is heading for maturity. Bold move but a good one, I wonder if it also works for early access games. Those tend to be the ones people are pissed about most, though they clearly state they are unfinished.
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George Williams Owner 4 years ago
But that's the whole point Barry. Rome 2 was shocking at launch. I was un/fortunate to be lucky to run it and the AI was just dreadful. It, like all Total War games will no longer be worthy of my time and attention. Its just a shame Steam refunds came too late as there were hundreds of players calling for them at launch
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
Great bunch of comments and ideas here, it also made me wonder if developers will test their games more carefully before release if this became a huge thing. And whilst it's potentially a great solution for many issues, makes you wonder what will happen to small indie devs who make smaller games.

Either way it'll be great to see how this will continue to develop.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Slight resurrection of dead-topic (apologies :) ), but to add to my earlier post...

1) Valve have now changed the algorithm for card-drops. The first drop only happens after at least two hours play-time. This circumvents idling for cards and refunding a game to actually turn a profit, which was something some devs were worried about.

2) There's reports that if you refund and then re-buy a Ubisoft game, you get the same UPlay key you were given first time around (which has subsequently been deactivated). Yup, hefty back-end indeed, but still flawed if true.
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