Valve has introduced a new refund policy on Steam that will allow users to get their money back on “almost all content, for any reason”.
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.
Refunds can be issued for “games and software applications” on the Steam store. This extends to a whole retinue of content including full games, DLC, software, pre-orders, bundles and even in-game purchases across Valve games like CS: GO and Team Fortress 2.
To start the process you’ll have to make a formal request at the behest of Valve. The company will then look over your case and determine if you’re eligible.
There are stipulations of course; in order to get a full refund the request must be made within 14 days of purchase, and you can’t have played the content or game for more than 2 hours. Credit will be applied to your Steam Wallet should a refund to the original payment method not be applicable.
One thing that’s not clear is how offline play factors into things.
Refunds on DLC, pre-orders and more
To get a refund on DLC, you can’t have played the “underlying title” for more than two hours after your purchase or have “consumed, modified or transferred” the DLC in question. So that means no scamming CS:GO cases.
Interestingly enough the refund policy extends to in-game purchases across third-party and Valve-developed games.
The company is clear that other devs reserve the option to not issue a refund, whereas in-game items purchased for first-party titles like TF2 will be refunded in 48 hours as long as the item hasn’t been used.
Getting a refund on a pre-ordered game on Steam has a lot of wiggle room.
You can request a refund at any time before the game’s release date, and once its on the store, the standard 14-day / 2 hour playtime rule applies. This is nifty when you up and change your mind about a game as the development cycle continues on, or if a pesky delay is announced.
Valve also has safeguards in place to prevent abuse.
If you’ve been banned by VAC (the Valve Anti-Cheat system) you lose all rights to refund that particular game. If Valve catches you abusing the system then you’ll be cut off from getting any sort of exchanges in the future:
“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. We do not consider it abuse to request a refund on a title that was purchased just before a sale and then immediately rebuying that title for the sale price.”
A step in the right direction
Many gamers have already reaped the rewards of this system, and are happy about the changes. The community agrees that this is a great way to police bad shovelware on Steam’s Early Access platform and gives users the power to avoid awful titles.
Ultimately this new feature will hold developers accountable for unacceptable titles, including Ubisoft’s infamous Assassin’s Creed: Unity and a dazzling array of money-milking games on Greenlight and Early Access alike.
In a way the new refund system affords a unique demo buy-and-try option to the marketplace.
Plus it will likely assure you don’t miss out on great sales–let’s say you buy a game for $59.99 today, and tomorrow, that same game is discounted to $29.99, theoretically using this new refund system should be able to get a full refund and buy the game again at its sale price.
Pressuring Indie developers
Although it’s a welcomed feature for gamers, critics speculate that this new policy could harm legitimately “good” games like Gone Home and other indie celebrated indie gems. This new move could put undue pressure on indie developers and harm their development structure.
Refunds on Steam for games played under two hours means developers with short gaming experiences can’t comfortably sell their games.
— Alexa Ray Corriea (@AlexaRayC) June 2, 2015
But some indie developers don’t agree with these concerns, and think that Steam refunds are a great thing.
The refunds are a good step for Steam, the old refund process was convoluted and ridiculous. This will generate some consumer confidence.
— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) June 2, 2015
In any case, it’ll be interesting to see if Valve changes up the feature as time goes by, and it’s great to see that gamers can now get some cash back when they buy something they don’t like.
Be sure to drop by Steam’s official page for full details.