PC gaming digital distribution service Steam changed its refund policy this week to grant gamers two weeks to return items, for any reason, as long as they have not been played for more than two hours, but game developers disagreed on whether this would help or hurt the industry.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) June 2, 2015
Developers Nina Freeman of Fullbright and Brianna Wu of Giant Spacekat sympathized with developers of short games, which players may finish under two hours and subsequently return to Steam for a full refund, thus costing developers. They also expressed concern that gamers needed to play a game for at least five minutes in order to write a review. But other developers took a consumer-centric stance:
But overall, PC games need a way to take the risk out of buying. I don't want to spend $50 to find out it runs terribly in my Surface Pro.
— Brad Wardell (@draginol) June 3, 2015
Developer Brad Wardell of Stardock argued that the new policy would increase sales because gamers would be less reluctant to buy games because of potential issues. Adrian Chmielarz of The Astronauts responded to Freeman’s concerns of refunds hurting shorter games, stating that “history tells us that most people do not really abuse refund policies… people who buy [short games] usually like them and pay a low price for them anyway, and that’s not getting them fired up to ask for the refund.”
Valve, the company behind Steam, has also stated that they will be monitoring refund activity to prevent abuse of the system: “Refunds are designed to remove the risk from purchasing titles on Steam—not as a way to get free games. If it appears to us that you are abusing refunds, we may stop offering them to you.”
Follow Rob Shimshock on Twitter @Xylyntial.