Valve Destroys Steam Gifting

Valve’s Kristian (no surname given) with a Steam blog post titled “Steam Gifting Changes”:

Today we’re announcing changes to gifts on Steam. The gifting process has had a bunch of friction in it for a while, and we want to make it easier for you to share the games you love with friends. Steam Gifting will now be a system of direct exchange from gift buyer to gift receiver, and we will be retiring the Gift to E-mail and Gift to Inventory options.

The post goes on to elaborate about enabling the scheduling of Steam gifts, which is new and should have been in years ago, but also has a few more changes that aren’t good:

Declined Gifts Resolve The Way They Should
In the old system, a declined gift would sneak back into the giver’s inventory and remain on their bill. Now, if a recipient already has the title, or just doesn’t want it, they can click decline and the purchase is refunded directly to the gift giver.

A refund of a declined gift should be an option, but it shouldn’t be the default.

Picture this: Sally buys Fran Civilization V on sale. Fran decides she doesn’t want Civilization V. The only thing that can happen now is that Sally gets her money back.

Two other things that should be options, in addition to a refund for the gift purchaser, are:

  1. Fran gets the refund as Steam credit (or cash, which is probably better), so that Fran can decide what she would rather have. This is what normally happens if Fran gets a gift that she returns from a store.
  2. Fran sends the gift back to Sally. Sally is presented with the options of keeping the gift in her gift inventory to decide what to do with it later, or Sally can keep the gift for herself, or Sally can return it for a refund. This means that Sally doesn’t miss out if she bought Civilization V during a sale and would like to do something else with the gift without losing out on the sale price.

I also wonder how this will work out for developers. If a gift is refunded 5 months or a year from now, how is Valve going to claw those dollars back from the developer’s future profits?

Safe Cross-Country Gifting
No more worrying if a Gift to E-mail or Gift to Inventory is going to work for a friend, gifts sent through the new system will always work on the receiver’s account. When there is a large difference in pricing between countries, gifting won’t be available and you’ll know before purchase.

This is Valve working around a problem they had where people in countries that had lower prices on games could purchase games for people living in countries where game prices were artificially inflated.

For example, games can be very expensive in Australia or Canada so folks in the United States would buy games for their friends overseas. There’s absolutely no good reason for the price of games to be inflated elsewhere, they’re digital goods and aren’t extra difficult to virtually ship. It does make sense in some cases to drop the price when the local economy can’t support purchases, however.

Either way, this is a really shitty move on Valve’s part. They talk a lot about decisions only being made in favor of the people buying games from them. This is not benefiting anyone but Valve and publishers.

Author: Jack Slater

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