In a bid to no doubt increase their public approval, in addition to possibly triggering a wave of uninhibited game purchasing from their software distribution platform Steam, gaming giant Valve has blown the doors off their previously miniscule return policy.
While before Steam only offered returns during extenuating circumstances, starting today you buy a game and return it as easy as tossing a puny trout back into the water. Here’s how it works. If you: a) have owned it less than 14 days and b) have less than 2 hours play time on record… then you can get a complete refund, with no questions asked, straight back to the card or other form of payment you bought the game with! Pretty lenient, huh? And get this, even if you “fall outside of the refund rules,” you can still ask for a refund and they’ll “take a look”. Now who knows what the hell that means, but I’ll take wishy-washy, consumer-centric vagueness over binding fine print legalese ANY DAY.
Now there are a few fiddly things with the system when it comes to DLC, such as with downloads that permanently change the core game (like leveling up your character), but according to Valve these titles will be clearly labeled as “nonrefundable”. And the rule does make a lot of sense, or else you would see jerks buying and returning DLC like crazy to max out their inventory without having to pay. And if you’re wondering about pre-purchased games, those can be refunded at any time before the game is released, and then up to 14 days after, just like any other purchase.
A few other noteworthy sections detail that movies do not qualify for returns, gifts cannot be refunded after the recipient claims them, and Steam Wallet funds can be refunded within 14 days just like games. And Valve has stated that they do not consider returning a game in order to repurchase it on sale as an abuse of their system. There are a few other little rules having to due with things like bans, in-game purchases and bundles, so if you want to check out the entire policy yourself, be my guest: Steam Refund Policy.
I’m going to end this article without taking a guess as to whether this will have a net benefit for the platform. It definitely should give added confidence to consumers and likely will inspire them to be more liberal with their purchases, but at the same time there will be abusers and a few developers that will miss out on some purchases.
Probably just the ones with crappy games though.