On June 2nd, Steam updated their refund policy, in a clear, easy to understand way that will no doubt quell some harsh feelings about the online game retailer’s practices.
Steam now states that they will “…issue a refund for any reason, if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours.” The go on to explain that once approved, the refund will take place within 1 week, a reasonable amount of time for refunds, even for large retailers.
Although there are very good things about this policy change, there are always doubts about returning a digital game, like you would a game disc. For one, this could open the flood gates to “Try before you buy” only return it after playing for an hour and a half. This could hurt indie developers who pay their rent and feed their kids with money they get from selling a game on steam. On the other hand, if the game in question does not run as intended on launch, or your system cannot handle the requirements, you will be able to get your money back, instead of being stuck with a broken, or otherwise unplayable game. The time it takes for a refund may also deter those looking to game the system for a “free” demo of the first hour of gameplay. It is; however, at the discretion of Steam to deny refunds to anyone who appears to be gaming the system, however.
The updated policy from steam also details other products offered on steam: DLC, Early Access titles, and pre-purchased games; among others. The same rules apply with DLC and Early Access titles. The time at which you can get a refund is 14 days from purchase, and the title has been played for less than 2 hours. Pre-purchaced games also follow this policy after release, but can also be refunded before they are launched. Steam is also offering refunds for in-game purchased items for any Valve-developed games, as long as the item has not been consumed or transferred.
For the full details of the updated policies, check Steam’s policy page for more details. This may be the step in the right direction for Steam, as it has a history of poor customer support, and if successful, may create the new standard for store platforms in the future.