Earlier today, Electronic Arts announced a new feature for their Origin digital distribution store that could sway gamers towards their service. There are quite a few stipulations to the feature, but, in essence, gamers will be able to return their digital games and receive a full refund starting today.
The major caveat to this refund policy, called the "Great Game Guarantee" is that the PC game must be returned within 24 hours of launching the game for the first time, or 7 days after you purchase it. For pre-orders, the 7-day countdown starts from the game's release date. And it's also important to point out that the refund option only applies to EA games right now.
Refunding games through Origin is very simple, all gamers need to do is hit the "request a refund button" alongside their game. From there, Origin will ask a few questions and the refund should start processing.
As of right now, the refund service is only available in 20 countries, but EA hopes to fully expand it by September. Some general kinks are also being worked out of the service, mainly with regards to special deals and discounts, so be make sure to read all the fine print (seen below).
Full game digital downloads (PC/Mac) published by “Electronic Arts” (collectively Electronic Arts Inc. if you reside in the United States, Canada or Japan and EA Swiss Sarl if you reside in any other country) and purchased on the Origin Store (Origin.com and purchases within the Origin gaming application) may be eligible for a refund if we receive your request within the earlier of: (i) seven (7) days from the date of purchase, (ii) seven (7) days from the game’s release date if you pre-ordered/pre-purchased or (iii) twenty-four (24) hours after the first time the game is launched or run. For full game digital downloads that are part of a bundle, the twenty-four (24) hour time period begins as soon as one game within the bundle is launched. Once a refund is issued, you will no longer have access to the game. To request a refund, visit your Order History and select the “Request a Refund” link next to any eligible product. Complete and submit the Refund Request Form. You will get a response within forty-eight (48) hours after your request is submitted and your refund within seven (7) to ten (10) days if you meet the Great Game Guarantee refund requirements.
â— If you request a refund for a product that is part of a bundle or a product that comes with bonus content, your refund under this policy may include the entire bundle of products/content, and your access to all included products/content will be revoked. Please note that dual platform products (such as one product that, when purchased, is playable on both PC and Mac platforms) will be treated as bundled content. Before you submit your refund request for bundled products/content, you will be able to see an itemized list of content that must be canceled/refunded together. You may then complete the refund request and cancel all the associated content or you may withdraw your request.
â— In rare instances, refunds may not be supported for products purchased during special Origin promotions. The promotional details will explicitly state if refunds are unsupported.
â— Refunds may not be supported where Electronic Arts detects fraud or abuse of the refund process.
â— Electronic Arts reserves the right to revise the Great Game Guarantee Policy at any time in its sole discretion. Any revisions to the Policy will be effective immediately for all subsequent purchases.
Return and Refund Policy for Third-party Games, Packaged Goods and Game Expansions/DLC/Add-Ons
â— Purchases from the Origin Store for third-party games, packaged goods, game expansions, downloadable content, time cards, virtual currency and add-ons are not subject to the Great Game Guarantee. Please see the Terms of Sale and the Returns and Cancellations FAQ for further information regarding any potential returns and/or refunds for these items.
Returns and Refunds for Full Game Downloads Purchased from a Third-party Retail Store
â— If you would like to return and/or request a refund for a full game download published by Electronic Arts but purchased from a third-party retail store, contact the retailer where you made the purchase to inquire about the retailer’s return or refund policies.
About Your Refund Under the Great Game Guarantee Refund Policy
â— When we have received and processed your request for a refund, Electronic Arts will request the appropriate refund to the payment method used for the original order. All refunds are subject to the Terms of Sale and the Returns and Cancellations policy. View completed refunds by visiting My Cases. If your refund doesn’t appear on My Cases and the processing time for your payment method has passed, contact Origin Help.
â— Please note that nonrefundable payment methods such as Boleto and SOFORT are not eligible for the Great Game Guarantee. We will inform you if your payment method is nonrefundable during checkout.
Other Refund Rights and Remedies
â— The Great Game Guarantee is in addition to any rights you have regarding returns or refunds. Please see the Returns and Cancellations FAQ and the Terms of Sale for further information regarding your refund rights and remedies.
Up until this point, once a gamer purchases a digital version of a game they are stuck with it. Yes, there are some exceptions made because of credit card fraud or unforeseen circumstances, but in general once you buy it then it's yours.
That's part of the reason that digital games can be sold at a discount (sometimes a very steep discount) — a lot of the hang-ups associated with retail do not apply to a digital storefront. Moreover, there is no cost associated with packaging or shipping.
With this new feature, however, Origin is adding one of the conveniences of retail shopping, the ability to return goods when dissatisfied. Granted, 24 hours is a pretty short window, but it's better than no return policy at all. EA has said they want to make the Origin service better, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.
So, now comes the big question: will Steam follow suit? Will they want to match Origin, or are they just fine as is? To be fair, EA likely instituted this policy to gain a leg up on Steam — the reining king when it comes to digital distribution — but maybe this move by EA will give Steam an incentive to try the policy out.
What do you think about the idea of a 24-hour refund window? Do you think Steam should offer a similar option?