For all the praise heaped upon Steam over the years many people seem to blatantly ignore how crap its attitude toward customers could be. Not only is there no quality control on Steam, allowing games that don’t even work to get released, but attempting to get a refund was often a challenge. No more.
Yesterday Steam announced a new refund policy that gives the customer up to 14-days to return the game for almost 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.” States the announcement.
The only limitation is that you cannot have played the game for more than 2-hours during that time, obviously to ensure that people don’t simply buy a game, complete it and then get a refund.
Let’s take a moment and think about some benefits of this move: firstly it will hopefully help combat the flood of half-baked tat, and games where development money really just goes toward marketing in order to dupe potential customers. Now a gamer can return any title that is outright crap or just plain doesn’t work. Considering how many titles get released on a deadline filled with bugs and problems with the attitude of, “we’ll patch it up later” this new refund policy could help massively. With some of the truly horrendous game arriving on Steam’s store this can only be a good thing.
Furthermore it makes pre-ordering and pre-loading a game far more viable. Now you can slap down money and then if it turns out to be broken, heavily bugged or simply not what you were promised on launch day you can give the middle finger to developers and get a refund. This will hopefully put some pressure on publishers and developers to release more polished titles. Yeesh, can you imagine the return rate for Assassin’s Creed: Unity on launch?
It will also pressure other companies who deal in digital work to consider adopting a similiar policy. Interestingly Origin has had a refund policy like this for quite a long time now. Microsoft, for example, may be forced to consider implementing something along the same lines.
All in all this would appear to be a complete win for consumers, bringing some power back to them and potentially letting them move the industry toward a slightly better place.