Have You Requested A Steam Refund? Why?

Have You Requested A Steam Refund? Why?

Steam refunds have only been around for a week, and it seems like a lot of people are already using them. Have you used the new feature at all? If so, why? Did it work?

Valve’s implementation of Steam refunds has been contentious, but there’s no disputing that they need to exist in some form or fashion. Steam has evolved into a minefield morass of potential raw deals, between Early Access games that may never be finished, shovelware, and “full” games made of hacked together Unity demos. However, one of Valve’s stipulations — specifically, that refunds will be granted unless you’ve played a game for more than two hours — has given makers of shorter games reason to worry. What if people play their games to completion and then return them? So far, Valve has yet to add any extra stipulation to their policy concerning shorter games.

Have you asked for a refund (or refunds) on Steam? What game (or games) had your piggy bank squealing for the return of its stolen innards? Was it shorter? Longer? And was it broken or unfinished, or did you simply dislike it as, well, a game? Have you managed to get a refund on a game you played longer than two hours or owned longer than two weeks? Also, when you requested your refund, did you ask for it to come in the form of Steam Wallet money or regular money? And lastly, have you tried gaming the system, getting a refund for something you finished? Or copying a DRM-free game and then returning it? Oh, and obviously, regardless of why you did it: did Valve grant your request? Did you get your money back?


  • Lego Worlds, $14.99USD, game was boring, articles said it was Minecraft but in Lego universe, was totally not, received my refund after a few days

      • Sounds like one to maybe buy when it’s no longer “early access” then.

        I wonder if Steam will respond to any trends of people buying early access, seeking refunds, then rebuying full release later.

        • Would that be so bad though? Someone buys early access, which they found not to be as advertised and get a refund. Then later perhaps features are added major changes are made and they buy the full game? The developer is still getting the money.

          • I’m not necessarily saying Steam should respond or what that response should be, I just wonder if they will.

            I think caveat emptor should be applied to Early Access as a whole – I’ve certainly taking the “once bitten – twice shy” approach.

          • One has to ask though, should buyers be entitled to at least a partial refund perhaps on abandoned early access games? I paid maximum price for Stomping Lands, 24.99. I’d dearly appreciate a token 5’er back on that, just out of good will. I know it’s not Valves fault, and it’s being picky… but *something*… for the abandoned…

          • I don’t believe ‘caveat emptor’ should be the last word in consumer rights, and thankfully the law doesn’t either.

            There really is a point where the ‘due diligence’ strays into the fucking absurd in order to set your expectations to something ‘accurate’ between carefully optimistic marketing and well-meaning fanboy propaganda. This IS a primary reason why I rely heavily on negative reviews (which tell you just as much from what they don’t say as what they do, and can sometimes have a positive effect despite their intentions), but it’s still a gamble.

            Buying a product shouldn’t be a gamble.

          • defeats the purpose of a game being in early access……, people get to test it, and the money goes into developing it further, with feedback from players to improve the game.

            if the money goes straight out of the developers pockets, back into yours, and they receive no feedback except a random refund… what does that say to them? how do they improve the game and implement the features and changes for the full game then huh? use your human brain.

          • That’s fair enough. But there are other examples where the game just gets abandoned. Development just stops and you have paid for money to the developer for nothing. I supposed every situation is different and we can’t have one solution for every game. See @weresmurf comment

          • Indeed, while I could understand, say if the company went into receivership due to bankruptcy and had given it a fair shake, in this case, the dev just up and left the game with no warning. Simply took the money and ran.

      • Yeah, and also to follow up from @simebag, I just checked the LEGO Worlds store page on steam and it’s accurate. The big blue “Early Access Game” description box at the top of the page states exactly the current state of the game, and their plans for future features.

        rowjack1993 is one part of what is annoying with developing Early Access titles: people not reading about what they are buying, then complaining about it after the fact. Probably leaving a negative review on it to boot.

  • I can’t see why they are letting people refund games they bought months ago, otherwise there is a big incentive for people to go to their “pile of shame” and make a quick cash-grab getting refunds for ‘change of mind’.

    • Are they permitting that? The stated limitations say that the refund must be requested within 14 days of purchase (and with no more than 2 hours of play time.)

      • It’s been reported that they are refunding games purchased outside of that. AFIAK valve have said they would be providing those refunds if requested anyway so it is still legitimate.

        • Maybe there should be an indemnity period for people to obtain refunds “no questions asked” since they were made to feel they weren’t entitled to refunds for a long time.

          Not gonna lie, I’m kind of tempted to get my money back for Banished and Towns which I bought about 6 months ago and turned out to be unsupported early-access dog shit.

          • I’ve heard nothing but good things about Banished, have you played post launch?
            You could very well get a refund for towns, as I understand it numerous people already have. I don’t think you can get a refund no questions asked, you do need to talk to somebody who asks why you are after a refund.

          • I only played it for an hour when it was still early access, it lacked any kind of substance (despite being basically functional and nice-looking). I might give it another go.

          • OK. It’s one that I have on my wishlist and has a 90% positive rating on steam so was wondering if there was anything a major hidden trap within

          • For what it’s worth, I really liked it. I don’t think there’s any hidden trap. But your mileage will vary depending on what you want from it. It’s pretty much a straight up city builder/management game, the survival aspect is only really a factor in the early game, and there’s no combat or anything like that.

            I got about 20 hours out of it before I got bored personally, but they were a pretty enjoyable 20 hours, so I’m not too upset about the price.

          • It’s a shame about towns.. I got it before it went on Steam and while it was still being actively development, it had so much promise.

          • Ennnnh, partial upvote, rounding up. Banished worked out pretty well, to me. Towns, however… textbook ‘what not to do’.

            Early Access didn’t exist when Towns was released, but several games were flagged with ‘warning, this is in beta’ tags of an official type, supported by Steam. But Towns didn’t make use of it. This was fundamentally dishonest. Even worse was that the developers dropped support for finishing it. Even WORSE was that the developer wants to make Towns 2 and sell that.

            Only game I’ve ever requested a refund on, and it was rejected. I should probably try it now.

    • As it stands, for older titles not previously covered by the returns policy, you can request a refund on games up to a maximum of 6 months old. the remaining conditions still apply (2hrs use, etc…)

  • Interesting question. Steam refunds seem to be one step closer to being able to ‘trade in’ digital titles. Maybe the next step is for Steam to offer a trade-in price which is paid into your steam wallet, and which will result in the game being removed from your library. The only problem I can see would be publishers (particularly bigger ones) being reluctant to put their games on Steam due to being undercut.

    Steam makes say 30% on the sale of a new game. Steam could offer a trade-in price of say 15% of the game’s current price, meaning they’d always be making at least 15%, but with the knowledge that the trade-in price would ultimately come back to them in the form of future game purchases.

    At the moment, Steam’s strategy is just to have massive sales to draw out the money through a perception of value, but a trade-in strategy could work, particularly if they got publishers to chip in on the trades because of the likelihood of it leading to bigger sales of new releases.

    Another, more controversial, strategy would be for Steam to act as a kind of Amazon marketplace for individuals to sell digital licences to each other, just taking a cut of each sale. They might get away with it, although publishers of course would scream bloody murder.

    Anyway, enough ranting. I rarely even use Steam so I don’t think the refund policy would really affect me 🙂

      • Many people think that, but the fact is that you own rights in the form of a licence. Rights are bought, sold or assigned all the time. On a consumer level, however, the concept is somewhat unfamiliar. People have a sense that “I’ve bought the game, therefore I should be allowed to sell it, even though it’s not physical” and they are right. It is only publishers unilaterally inserting contractual terms into the licence that prevents people from legally doing so. Such terms are anti-consumer and I think they will eventually fall by the wayside, although I might be being too optimistic 🙂

    • Well, this could be the beginnings of a re-sale culture and facility within Steam, too.

      See, I haven’t been keeping fully on top of it but from what I understand there were some German/EU court rulings which ruled to protect ‘first sale doctrine’ (if you buy it, you can re-sell it) specifically relating to software.

      A right protected by EU law, meaning it doesn’t matter what the fuck anyone puts in their EULA.
      Software lobbies complained that this wasn’t valid, that people were only buying licences to software, not the actual software itself as a physical product, to which the court effectively said, “Yeah, cool, whatever, people are buying licences? We’re saying they can re-sell those licences.”

      Obviously, The Law happened, which means that shit still isn’t sorted and precedents are being defined by whoever wants to throw their hat in the ring, whether it’s software companies suing a re-seller or consumer rights lobbies suing Steam, and a few mitigating rulings have come out (such as allowing Steam to avoid having to facilitate wholesale entire-account transfers between owners), but a lot of this functionality has slipped in under the radar, and some can be instigated through customer support.

      Without any evidence since 2013 as to what’s going on beyond my own experiences, I half expect Valve asked for ‘some time’ to figure this whole shit out, or The Law happened and shit stalled everywhere anyway.

  • Devs should release more polished demos of the game to try out before we buy it or keep alpha access free till beta is release. Then we have to pay for it to continue playing it.

  • Anyone attempted a refund on DayZ? I’ve only playing 9 hours. Haven’t touched it since the first couple of weeks it came out due to the horrible frame rate.

  • I have received several refunds from Steam over the years, well before these new “rules” came into effect. I remember getting a refund for Dust because of the DRM-free debacle surrounding it. I also remember getting one for a Bohemia Interactive game called Carrier Command because it was so buggy it was laughable..

    I think there was a couple of others too.. point is though that you could quote Australian Consumer Law to them and they’d refund you.. this new change just makes it official and gives them a way to try and weasel around the law if you let them.

  • Mortal Kombat X. It ran fine day 1, then they patched it and it would no longer run (Showed logo, then would not run). My rig is brand new and can easily run this game in 4k so its not a requirements issue for running it. I spent a couple of hours trying to get it to run (reinstall etc..) Nothing worked. My time is more important than wasting it on trying to get a game that’s clearly not well developed or tested to work as i noticed some people having similar problems but no solution to my issue. Asked for a refund having had 65 mins of play logged on it. Got the refund approved within 10 mins.

  • Nope. 250+ games and I truly don’t believe I’m entitled to a refund for any of them. There is an inherent risk of subjectivity in the observation of marketing and paying for entertainment/art. I understand my role in it and accept responsibility for my generally informed choices.

    • Fair enough. I do feel a bit guilty about Dust.. it was more of a “jump on the bandwagon” to get a refund on a game I wasn’t really enjoying. However, with Carrier Command.. that game was seriously broken in so many ways. It was a product that was not of mercantile quality.. it was shocking.. and there was no indication that it would be, considering that Bohemia Interactive had already made so many massive games in the past (Operation Flashpoint and the ARMA series).

      If a physical good I bought, be it a car, TV, whatever, that was non-functional due to either design flaws or manufacturing problems, I’d feel entitled to a refund as I am sure you would. Digital property is not really any different when it comes to this type of problem.

      I also have 200+ games and only feel guilty about that one refund, all the rest were legit refund requests in my view.

    • Yeah, that’s normally the case for me. I’m coming up on 1000 titles in my Steam library and the only one I want to get a refund on was Towns.

      Besides the fact that, “Haha, caveat emptor, bitches!” is complete bullshit when taken as the final word on consumer protections (and thankfully, according to Australian consumer law, this is not just bullshit but also illegal), there was a significant amount of deception involved in that sale, between reviews being restricted to the dev-moderated discussion pages, and the devs claiming after the fact to be protected from ‘buggy and unfinished’ criticisms due to being ‘still in development’, without actually having a ‘beta/in-development’ tag on it (which was the precursor to the Early Access program) and the Steam version being fully released and following a different version-control numbering system compared to the version on their self-distributed site.

      I actually tried for a refund a couple hours after purchasing the game at the time, struggling to get it to be anything remotely like the advertised materials and wrestling with opaque systems that had me mistaking something broken for something I might possibly be doing incorrectly… no, no, it was just broken. Didn’t get the refund. Now is the time, I think.

      Everything else? Enh. I may not have always got my money’s worth, or even hoped, but I got something close to what I probably should have expected, if stripped of optimist-goggles.

  • Bought a RE game like 3 months ago. Said it had coop didn’t have like any multilayer at all was like time trials shiz. Got refund.

  • I’d like to be able to refund a gift copy of The Crew a friend bought for me. The game has never connected online as advertised and it took me five hours of troubleshooting to bite that bullet. Never actually ‘played’ the game.

    I’d much rather my friend be refunded or just credited that amount in Steam wallet. It was too long ago now to matter but for this reason I’m glad there are measures in place.

  • So lots of people are getting refunds. How many exactly? So far I’ve seen two articled talking about ALL the people getting refunds. I doubt it’s actually a sizeable amount in the scheme of the number of users and purchases through steam on a daily basis.
    Probably alot of upset early-access and indie game makers though because their crappy half made games, that they made look great in a trailer video, are gonna get refunded and the easy money is gone.

  • Crusader kings 2. Wanted to try it but with no real tutorial i got frustrated by the poorly designed ui. I’ll try it again when i have more free time to learn it.

    • I am on the fence with this one, think I saw you post that the other day. On one hand the CK 2 game is complex and the tutorial is lacking. However no real tutorial could introduce the game properly as many fan made basic tutorials span hours.

      I get why you wanted the refund, and to some point think it’s fair, but if CK made no claim about an “excellent” tutorial, some onus does fall back on you for failing to research. Not every bit of information can be contained in the shop front. The lack luster tutorial is a very well known fact as is the mountain you need to climb to learn the game.

      Middle ground could and should be reached. There are shitty games out there but to think a decent company is going to be taken advantage of sucks (not saying you did). Most companies already give us ridiculous sales cutting costs on games 50% or higher. Maybe further qualifiers need to be added.

      An extra qualifier could be added, If you have less then XX games or XX spent in your account or what ever Valves sees as “fair” you are only allowed to return 1 game for every 4 purchased. Once you meet the qualifier, and your account is deemed real or worth something so your not going to risk losing it, these types of measures can be removed.

      Steam has done a very great thing on a side note and allow people to return games that have recently come on sale. So if you bought a 50 dollar game it comes on sale for 50% off you’re allowed to return it and get the discounted price. I do think they need to stop making every new feature self managed but that is a different subject,

    • There is now a much better in game tutorial, looks like it’s been added in the last six months or so.

      Similar to you I bounced off the game a couple of times earlier on, however I tried again a few days ago and the tutorial is now pretty good.

  • Ive requested four refunds. Have two so far.
    One was a shitty rogue like called Wozhack (or something).

    The other one I just got the refund email today. Killing Floor 2 Digital Deluxe Edition.
    I was looking for a Left 4 Dead type of game. Instead I got a shallow horde mode game.

  • No, but that is only cause I havent bought anything on Steam in the last few weeks, ever since the rumor announced the Steam Sales start on the 11th June.

    So ask me again in a week 😛

  • Not yet. Thinking about having a crack at that pile of garbage, ‘Towns’ retroactively.

  • I got myself a refund on Ark: survival evolved. Game just ran like balls on my system, (gtx 960, I7 2600k, 8gb ram, 18fps, no thanks) and I will probably pick it up again if the devs manage to optimize it into a playable state. Although like all early access titles I won’t be holding my breath for them to ever fix it. Hopefully the refund policy will go a long way towards cutting back on aborted titles and those that are just plain scams like the stomping land, never seeing that $25 again.

  • Yes i did, same day

    i purchase Far Cry 3 and The extra’s separately – found it was cheaper in the complete edition special.

    Check steam refund policy which stated something along the lines as long it is not downloaded and there are different versions of the game that can be purchased – you can be eligible for a steam account refund

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