Steam Now Offers Refunds

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅03.06.2015 13:37:39

Origin has one. Good Old Games has one. Even your local game store probably has one. But Steam didn't... until now.

We are of course talking about a refunds policy, where Steam has for years been decidedly behind the times. Consumers and pundits alike have often described it as Steam's major weak link as a digital distribution platform, a position which has become reinforced since the floodgates opened on independent and retro releases with barely any curation or guarantees that the games will even work. Thankfully that changes from this week.

Steam's Refund Policy is straightforward, applies to the vast majority of games and software available on the platform, and pretty consumer-centric. The full terms and conditions can be found here but the key points are:

- The game must have been bought no more than 14 days prior to submission for a refund
- You must have spent less than 2 hours in game (visible on your Steam profile)
- Gifted items which have been redeemed are not eligible for refunds

- DLC purchases qualify if you have played less than 2 hours of that DLC
- DLC that confers in-game rewards (character levels, pets etc.) may not qualify
- In-game purchases for Valve titles are covered, though on a separate 48-hour window from purchase.

- Some 3rd party titles may not be eligible (Valve will seek to notify you if that's the case)

- If you're VAC banned from a title you give up rights to a refund.
- Valve reserve the right to deny a refund if they believe you're abusing the system, which seems quite fair.

Requesting a refund is a simple process which can be performed through the Steam Website or Client via the game support pages. Simply fill in your reasoning, click send, and wait for your confirmation emails.

It's not clear what's prompted the creation of a worldwide refund policy, but a recent change to European Steam Customer Terms and Conditions (believed to have been introduced due to continued legal pressure in various European national courts) almost certainly had something to do with it. Refund terms very closely match those of the updated EU T&C's, and implementing the process on the website and client rather than necessitate going through support channels.

Consumers and rights advocates appear to have broadly welcomed the change. However the reaction amongst developers has been mixed. Stardock CEO Brad Wardell was enthusiastic, stating on Twitter "It encourages more people to buy games as there's less risk".

Mike Bithell, creator of the excellent Thomas Was Alone, was similarly positive but followed up with a note of caution: "It's going to have a realllllllyyy interesting effect on short form games.. Something like TWA (3ish hours) might have suffered from it."

It would be unsurprising to see a policy update that exempts certain short-form titles so long as their length is clearly indicated prior to purchase. It's also possible that the broad refund policy will have a chilling effect on the publishing of truncated experiences (i.e. those so short they fit under the 5 minute minimum for reviews) to Steam.

For more information visit the Steam Refunds policy page.