There’s always a conundrum regarding how customers get refunds in the digital realm. The inherent ease with how one can duplicate digital content complicates matters, and with the best will in the world, DRM is only a temporary measure. For a long time, it was basically a case of purchases being final, no exceptions; but things are slowly changing. EA already offer a “Great Game Guarantee” that gives you plenty of chance to get a refund if you’re unhappy. GOG.com offers a 30 day refund policy already.
It’s taken a long time for Valve to catch up, but they’re finally offering a very generous refund policy for customers in the future:
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.
There’s plenty of opportunity there to keep the customer happy, especially after Valve’s dire customer service record recently. There’s also a chance the system could be abused, as some developers have said about the change in policy. Valve have said there will be checks in place 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. 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.
I can completely understand the concerns that developers have with the system, particularly those that have made shorter games that could be completed within the two hour limit. The problem is, services like this have to have a ‘customer first’ policy, because there are far more paying customers that are vulnerable to getting screwed over by buggy games they can’t get to work, terrible Early Access content or just plain deceptive marketing. The system needs to be in place to protect those spending the money.
One thing I would really love to see happening is a system that lets you trade-in games for a reduced fee. Steam already has precedent for a marketplace style community that lets you trade in game items. I’d imagine a game trade market would work on a percentage of retail value, and allow you either swap games with others, or sell them. It could be a completely transparent system that lets developers/publishers determine how the money is divvied on sales of their games, it would help people trim their collections down, make a bit of money back and give another way for buyers to save cash apart from Steam sales.
Are you happy with the news you can now get a refund on Steam? Let us know in the comments!