Valve just added refunds to Steam. CD Projekt’s Gog and Electronic Arts’ Origin already had similar policies.
If you’ve played a game for two or fewer hours, and want your money back within the first two weeks of your purchase? You can get your money back. It’s great.
Got an incomplete game in Steam’s Early Access program that isn’t what you expected or maybe just a game that is completely broken? Get your money back.
Where it falls apart is for developers who must have questions that mostly have bad answers.
What if a game takes less than two hours to complete and players ask for refunds?
What if a player buys the game, plays it offline and completes it in less than two weeks and asks for a refund?
Right now, it seems like developers are screwed in those situation. The game is done. The player gets their money back.
Valve has said the rules are flexible for users who have played more than two hours or who have had the game in their Steam library for more than two weeks. They’ll still be able to get refunds.
What if that flexibility extended to developers who could specify a length of time their game takes to complete, and then the refund system could factor in a percentage of that time to allow for refunds? A two hour game could give you 25 minutes to decide if it’s good or not.
Having a standard policy for customer service agents to apply to every piece of software and refund situation on the service makes it easier for players as well as Valve’s customer service agents to apply that policy but Valve should be flexible enough in their technology as well as their application of this policy to not ruin the experience for developers who want to take risks by making shorter games that don’t require you to be online in Steam to play them.
It’s always better for a policy and system to focus on benefits for the people that use them, even over the needs of the people who feed these systems with software. Doing the right thing for their customers is why companies like Valve and Apple succeed where so many others fail. Overall, this policy is great. I’m just not sure about the two-hours.