Steam refund policy already being abused by PC gamers, according to devs

It hasn't even been a week, and already developers are reporting PC gamers are abusing Steam's new refund policy.

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It’s been less than a week since Valve announced its new refund policy, and already we’re hearing reports of abuse straight from developers.

Developer Qwiboo revealed it has felt the negative impact of Steam Refunds with its game, Beyond Gravity. The game is a procedurally-generated platformer where you guide your astronaut to new planets by jumping between them, collecting as many pickups as you can. The game has been sitting at the $1.99 price for several months and has received a Steam user rating of Very Positive, although Qwiboo has shown how its short game has suffered from the new Steam Refunds policy by tweeting out a sales graph showing its decline.

Along with the sales graph image, Qwiboo says, “Out of 18 sales 13 refunded in just last 3 days. That's 72% of purchases. Rate of refunds before was minimal.”

Abuse of Steam’s new refund policy many PC developers were concerned with. In fact, it was one of the subject’s we touched upon during our most recent Chattycast episode. While the new Steam refund policy benefits its customers, it would appear indie developers who create short experiences will be feeling the sting of abuse the most unless Valve does something to change its policy for their benefit. Until then, we don’t see the abuse of buying a small, indie game and playing it for under an hour to then asking for a refund to stop any time soon.

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 8, 2015 6:55 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Steam refund policy already being abused by PC gamers, according to devs

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      June 8, 2015 7:05 AM

      Probably worth going and reading some reviews of the game too. Not so sure this is "abuse."

      http://store.steampowered.com/app/317510/

      I don't know how to feel about this. Certainly there are a lot of mobile type games out there which will sell at a very low price point for not much of a game. I bet most people want to refund most of their mobile games.

      On the one hand it seems like they are eliminating one economic model, on the other it seems like they are setting a standard for quality being at least 2+ hours of entertainment to be on the Steam store.

      It will be interesting.

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        June 8, 2015 7:26 AM

        It's kind of strange to see so many negative recommendations when the game averages a "Very Good" positive rating on Steam.

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          June 8, 2015 7:36 AM

          I'm not sure how that rating system works but it really seems to skew in favor of the game. If you check out some of the most poorly rated games on Steam they might say "Mixed" at worst. I've seen several games with very few recommends and lots of bad reviews and they'll say "Mostly Positive".

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            June 8, 2015 11:50 AM

            It's easy to just click recommend or not. But you have to be really angry to write 500 words on how the game raped your mother.

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      June 8, 2015 7:06 AM

      I read something about this on Reddit. People were claiming they just had a sale during that time which ended right as that drop in sales started. I never found any confirming data, but if that's the case, it's a lot stronger argument for that sudden rise and decline.

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      June 8, 2015 7:19 AM

      "My game's bad and the consumer protection program is killing my sales!"

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        June 8, 2015 7:19 AM

        ^Iawtp

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        June 8, 2015 7:31 AM

        Steam impressions say "Very Positive".

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          June 8, 2015 7:36 AM

          Looking at the latest reviews, it seems more like it is not

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            June 8, 2015 9:04 AM

            Are you sure you're looking at "recent" and not "helpful"?

            Looking at recent, 17/20 of the most recent reviews were positive.

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              June 8, 2015 11:13 AM

              Also:

              551 positive
              65 negative

              That's an 89% positive perception of this game. I don't think this is a bad game.

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        June 8, 2015 12:12 PM

        I see a lot of multiplayer gamers level 10-20 in RS/RO (you start at 10) - they don't know how to play, they complain about the game rather than play, and teamkill critical players for the team.

        Then quit and are refunded.

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        June 8, 2015 1:57 PM

        Do you really think it's going to be limited to bad games?

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      June 8, 2015 7:23 AM

      ... According to one indie dev who has been selling 6 copies a day? How many of these refunds come from sales two weeks ago or older when it looks like the game was selling a lot more? There's nothing here to support any claims of abuse.

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      June 8, 2015 8:33 AM

      If the game sucks, then hand over a refund. If we had DEMOS like we USED to have then guess what.....NO FUCKING REFUNDS cause your more than likely to know what your are buying. Oh well, gotta pay for those alphas and betas.

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        June 8, 2015 11:38 AM

        Yeah RIP game demos or the old shareware model of releasing episode 1 of 3 for free. Way better solution for everyone. It may be too late now to have a demo and no refund policy for games.

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          June 8, 2015 1:57 PM

          Doom shareware could have passed as a full game by todays standards. You will never see that again.

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            June 8, 2015 2:35 PM

            Yeah, it was 1/3 the levels, but ultimately like 60-70% of the total "content" when you consider most of the guns, monsters, sounds, etc. were in the first free episode. Seemed everyone was still more than happy to cough up, though.

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          June 8, 2015 1:57 PM

          Arguably some Free to Play models are the new version of this, at least the ones without ridiculous levels of microtransactions. Unfortunately too many companies abuse that business model.

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            June 8, 2015 2:32 PM

            The open-ended payment amount is far worse.

            If they want to say $0 to play, $60 absolute max cap for all content guaranteed, then fair enough, but I don't think that is true anywhere. It seems the sky is the limit on so much of that stuff.

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          June 8, 2015 10:14 PM

          How is Steam refunds not better than demos? You get to test the final product.

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      June 8, 2015 9:03 AM

      Not seeing any abuse there, just use.

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      June 8, 2015 9:11 AM

      Oh, people being pieces of opportunistic shit. What a shock.

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      June 8, 2015 10:26 AM

      Instead of a game being non-refundable after a standard two hours or whatever they decided on, games should become non refundable after a promised minimum playtime shown in big letters on the store page.

      That way, devs of short "experience" titles like Gone Home or The Stanley Parable don't get stiffed, while purchasers can get early warning if the store page only promises thirty minutes on a supposed MMORPG-survival-crafting game.

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        June 8, 2015 1:55 PM

        I think this is the best solution. Some games are just short games, or artistic set pieces. Dear Esther springs to mind.

        It also has a built in counter to developers listing unrealistically short playtimes for their games. I know I'm not going to buy some random FPS when it lists the average completion time as a half hour.

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      June 8, 2015 10:30 AM

      Shocker.

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      June 8, 2015 11:16 AM

      Typical entitled pc developers. Sounds like someone should have developed their shareware game for the Xbox.

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      June 8, 2015 11:59 AM

      "Cleverly designed control scheme where all actions in the game are controlled by only one key."
      Cleverly designed? Or ultra simplistic? How do you pick upgrades with one key? Unless you just buy the 'next' upgrade?

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      June 8, 2015 1:13 PM

      Perhaps there should be a minimum price eligibility for refunds. $1.99 seems like so little money to quibble about....

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        June 8, 2015 1:42 PM

        if you set the price minimum at, say... $4.99 then games will post prices of $4.98 or $4.50 or something just so they can be immune to refunds.

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          June 8, 2015 2:36 PM

          dunno how that's a problem. If the minimum is meant to be something that's not worth quibbling over and a game is priced under that, it's not worth quibbling over

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        June 8, 2015 1:46 PM

        The refunds should be sorted according to game price so you can't get a refund on a game until all the more expensive requests have been processed

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      June 8, 2015 10:05 PM

      They just need to charge a 15% restock fee or something so that it's not a full refund.

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      June 10, 2015 7:16 AM

      There are limitations on the refund process such as it has to be within a specific timeframe of 2hours played time or 2 weeks which ever comes first. The problem here is that people buying the game aren't enjoying it once they played it. I have hard time believing that people are that coordinated enough to get 70% of the users to just refund the game.

      I wonder if this game even had a demo or a decent enough trailer to explain what the game was to the people buying it. If your seeing 70% drop off or that high refund rate then there is probably something else wrong and its not the user.