We’ve all been in those situations where we eagerly go out and buy a game because of the amount of interest we have in it. Maybe it has a great concept; reviews have been praising it left and right; or, perhaps, a trusted friend has recommended it. Best case scenario, we come to enjoy the game, or play it to the point where we feel as though we got our money’s worth. Worst case, the game is returned, in the hopes that some other game will come along and be what the former set out to be.
The act of returning a game and getting a refund is relatively simple when that title comes in a physical form, but as things have largely shifted to a digital format, the process has become more difficult. If anything, many have probably bought digitally goods knowing they will have a hard time seeking a refund in the future.
Video games are among the riskier investments, as many retailers ask for $50-$60 upfront before the consumer decides how they feel about it. Demos, betas, free trials, and the like are valuable tools that aid in this decision, but there’s no better way to form an opinion about a game than by playing the full release.
Valve, in a move that may reduce the frequency with which the above scenario occurs, is now implementing a refund option for its large amount of Steam users, and a refund request can be issued for almost everything the store offers – for any reason. As the online store explains, “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.”
Those seeking a refund can do so through the Steam Help page, but there are a few rules that must be adhered to. As said previously, refunds can be made for almost everything bought on Steam, but there are a few exceptions to that. DLC, pre-purchased games, bundles, in-game purchases (for Valve games only), and Steam Wallet funds are all fair game.
Movies, redeemed gifts, and games bought outside of Steam, however, are a no-go. So, if you bought a game from, say, the Humble Bundle, and redeemed the Steam key, you can’t seek a refund later, as the game wasn’t bought through Steam itself.
Additionally, users that have been banned by VAC (the Valve Anti-Cheat system) for a specific game forgo their right to request a refund for that game. The consequences that come with being banned have to be severe and numerous, after all.
All that being said, however, no one should suddenly open up Steam and start asking for refunds for games they bought last year. Requests for refunds need to be issued within 14 days (two weeks) of purchase, and the game must have been played for less than 2 hours. This applies to the aforementioned bundles as well, so make sure the combined play time of all the games included still comes in at under 2 hours.
Valve explains that approved refunds will come within a week, with the money to go to either the Steam Wallet, or the same payment method used to make the purchase. On the off chance that particular payment method can’t be reached, it will default to the Steam Wallet.
Steam’s Refund system will hopefully prompt others like Sony and Microsoft to introduce refund systems for PSN and Xbox Live. And since this new system is overwhelmingly beneficial to users, it will probably last longer than the paid mods Valve tried to push forward earlier this year.
One problem the beloved company may have to deal with, however, are the people that attempt to abuse the system by buying smaller indie games, completing them within 2 hours, then requesting a refund. It’s only a matter of time before someone tries to do this, because people are always trying to “cheat” the system. It will be interesting to see if Valve gives devs the power to ban these users, in addition to the disruptive players they can already deal with.
How do you feel about Valve giving people the option to ask for refunds? Any games you wish you could’ve returned, if only because they were impulse purchases?
Source: Steam Refunds