Over the weekend, a thread on No Man's Sky's popular sub-Reddit popped up claiming that Valve would issue refunds no matter how much time one had accrued playing the game. The thread garnered over 5,000 up-votes, gaining more than enough traction for Valve to restate its refund policy on the game's Steam page (via PC Gamer).
Per those guidelines, Valve will issue a refund on any game, for any reason, "if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours." However, the policy goes on to state that "even if you fall outside of the refund rules we’ve described, you can ask for a refund anyway and we’ll take a look."
What that means, in effect, is that Valve invites you to try your luck requesting a refund even if you've sunk 30 hours into No Man's Sky or any other game.
That's where some confusion appears to lie. Whether because of the massive Reddit thread or myriad claims of technical issues with the PC port and false advertising on the part of Hello Games, players grew to believe that No Man's Sky was some sort of special exception to Valve's rules. It isn't. Some players simply found success appealing for refunds outside of guidelines, perhaps because of the game's popularity and glut of coverage, while others did not.
Editor's Opinion: It's easy to fall into one of two schools of thought on this issue: that Valve should make their guidelines ironclad, or that exceptions should be made for players claiming to have an issue that falls "outside of the refund rules," as Valve puts it.
While I'm more inclined to agree with the former way of thinking than the latter, PC Gamer editor James Davenport points out that what's good for the goose may not be good for the gander. PC games come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, and styles, with X factors like marketing and hype stemming from community fervency holding weight in the equation to determine if a game is worthwhile for each individual consumer. Instead of pre-ordering, wait for reviews from like-minded critics or streamers before putting up cash.
And if you've played 30+ hours of any game, you probably shouldn't expect Valve to dry your tears and give you your money back.