No, Steam Isn't Offering Special Exemptions For No Man's Sky Refunds

No Man's Sky is not the game a lot of people wanted it to be. Over the weekend, people sought refunds en masse, and many reported that retailers like Amazon, Steam, and PSN offered unconditional or nearly unconditional refunds. That's not entirely true.

No Man's Sky refunds became the discussion topic du jour on sites like Twitter, NeoGAF, and Reddit, and users began recounting their success stories. Some reported that they'd managed to squeeze cash from Amazon, Steam, and PSN despite set-in-stone refund policies, which led to widespread reports like this one.

The gist? They claimed that those stores -- especially Steam -- had waived policies like a 14-day maximum amount of time since purchase and, in PSN's case, a blanket ban on refunding downloaded games. This despite the fact that users were passing around tips -- for instance, citing technical issues and asking to speak to live chat representatives instead of sending emails -- to get around typical refund policies.

In response to these reports, Steam added an orange (Valve's official colour for Serious Words) framed disclaimer to No Man's Sky's page: "The standard Steam refund policy applies to No Man's Sky. There are no special exemptions available. Click here for more detail on the Steam refund policy."

I've reached out to both Sony and Amazon, but they have yet to reply to my inquiries.

While all of this was going on, the discussion surrounding refunds heated up, with some pointing out that if you've spent 30, 40, or 50 hours with a game, you're well past the point of a refund. Heck, that implies you might even like it!

Shahid Kamal Ahmad, a former Sony director who helped secure PlayStation's No Man's Sky exclusive, went so far as to say, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He added, "We're not talking about a consumer product in the factory sense. We're talking about a work of art. You can't just treat it like a widget."

However, others countered that No Man's Sky was supposedly gonna last players until the end of time -- or at least for hundreds and hundreds of hours. Yeah, that's a ludicrous expectation, but the game's marketing didn't do much to douse it. The game didn't live up to all of the hype, and it shipped with technical issues to boot. In some players' minds, that's enough to qualify it for an exception to refund rules.

Given that No Man's Sky has sold quite well and seems decently liked by people who weren't swallowed by the marketing machine, irate players might be a vocal minority. That makes it hard to gauge how widespread refunds and refund requests actually are.

SteamSpy, for instance, noted that while the game's number of owners stopped growing, that might just be margin of error talking. People also danced on the game's grave when its active player count dropped precipitously after launch, but that too was premature.

That's not to say the game's gonna last folks a million-billion years in the way they'd hoped. Rather, it shows that it does have an appeal, and quite a few people are digging it. It's just not the precise appeal some people wanted it to have. That's a big sticking point.

This whole incident is worth considering from a broader perspective, though. We now find ourselves caught in a crossfire between expectations and reality, with marketing and consumer culture sitting on the sidelines, egging them on.

Is it ever reasonable to ask for a refund after spending 50 goddamn hours with a game, given that many of the biggest, best games offer significantly less? When the stakes are literally All Of Time, does it even make sense to measure the value of a game in hours? Could it ever measure up to expectations? Are marketing and grandiose promises fully to blame here, or did some people also conjure up The Ultimate Video Game in their imaginations?

No Man's Sky clearly isn't everybody's cup of tea, and that's fine. But it's also an interesting, ambitious game on its own merits, and I worry that the race to be The Most Outraged, Best Consumer in the wake of marketing bullshit (and some unfounded expectations) is eclipsing that. In the modern age of hype cycles and endless information trickles, no game gets to exist purely on its own terms, but No Man's Sky might be getting the rawest deal yet. When it was first unveiled, greeted by a sea of starry eyes and dropped jaws, it landed in the exact right place at the right time. The game was a baseball, lobbed straight at The Zeitgeist's noggin.

Flash forward a couple years, and we what happens when that ball whizzes by and lands in the stands. Hint: it ain't pretty.


Comments

    How can you say with a straight face?

    "Given that No Man’s Sky has sold quite well and seems decently liked by people who weren’t swallowed by the marketing machine, irate players might be a vocal minority"

    I mean.. are you kidding? The game is a train wreck. A two second search on google will reveal how much this game is steaming, hardly a 'vocal minority'.
    This site obviously got a LOT of advertising money for this game, but seriously, have a shred of impartiality. Or at least pretend to.

      He can say it due to the fact that many people still enjoy playing it.

      you know when I last heard a game was a train wreck... now let me think, it was like this time, almost two years ago. Oh thats right, the Destiny launch. People were crying about lies, forming conspiracies, calling it the worse games ever, given it hysterically bad reviews to go with the average critic reviews, it was a train wreck, the worse game crime of the century, demanding refunds (did I miss any insult out?) ... and yet here we are two years later, the game is as big as ever, with a solid fanbase just about to go into year three with a new big expansion.

      All that trash and mehness NOW amounts to nothing. Less than nothing. Just a bunch of over opinionated gamers acting like jilted lovers. Sure NMS and Destiny both had real issues and problems on launch but lets not make the mass hysteria out as if everyone is involved. Because that is just hyperbole and unprovable.

      Last edited 30/08/16 12:17 pm

        Not really, truly the same thing. Destiny didn't have a giant list of things promised, then ripped out by launch. Destiny also has functioning multiplayer, has been supported by add ons, dlc etc and there's a functioning community that extends its life as a multiplayer game. If Destiny were a single player game this would be different. Let's come back in six months time and see if your comparison is able to be upheld :)

      Yes, even a full page of google results, of pages of complaining on a forum, or pages of bad reviews, *are* a vocal minority, when you have 100s of thousands of people playing it.

        https://steamdb.info/app/275850/graphs/

        It's cooked, stick a fork in it.

          What did the game do to you? Why are you savage and nasty about it? Chill out - its just a freaking game.

          You got sucked into the hype. That's your bad luck

            In most (but not all) cases its people with no life outside the internet wanting to big note themselves by having a rant and rave online :D I cannot believe anyone seriously expected 18 quintillion planets to all have different exciting scripted quest-lines ... or to get serious PvP happening in a game where meeting other players is near impossible ... or make some permanent difference as one single individual "hollywood style" in a game that is meant to be about exploring infinite expanses of space. Well maybe the odd individual was crazy enough - but most of the knockers are just jumping on a bandwagon.

      I enjoy it and will not refund it even if the refunding restrictions are removed. You know why? because I don't seek approval from the vocal-hate-gang minority in what I love or hate and therefore couldn't care less about what goes viral on the internet's hate list. There are hundreds of thousands of players like me and a few like you no matter how loud the hate gets.

      No Man's Sky is a very good-fun game to play and a step forward in game technology. Happy I was able to support the developers and looking forwards to future game updates. Wishing for direct mod support too so we can expand it and keep it alive forever :)

    On the subject of time spent playing.

    In my case it was a matter of hoping that the game we were promised was out there hidden in the 18 quintillion planets.

    In the first few days, people began to claim that we may have been mislead, that something wasn't right about the game.
    Others jumped to defend the game, that there was this infinite universe to explore and players were complaining that they couldn't see everything in a few hours.
    The vague communication gave the impression that maybe, just maybe it is out there.
    What we know now is, we had already seen everything in the first few hours. The gameplay you begin and never stop, is the core gameplay.

    So sorry to those people who think it's unfair to want a refund, but I think it's unfair to cut communication with players while making no attempt to set the record straight.
    The idea that time played = time enjoyed is woefully off base.

    I don't want a refund, I have already gone over the limit most offer and frankly this is my own punishment for my part.
    But I cannot agree with the sudden excuse, that this catastrophic mess is players fault and that it's all just the grumblings of a vocal minority.

    Last edited 30/08/16 11:20 am

      I'm not sure about the rest of the world but in Australia we have a little thing called the ACL and if something has been sold under one impression but is completely different to the way it was presented, then whether purchased digitally or physically you are entitled to a refund. I personally like the game but I can understand how people feel duped by the advertising and developers.

      I don't think time played is an indicator of whether someone should get a refund or not.

    This is not the time for wedging in your navel-gazing opinions and linking to a dozen previous No Man's Sky articles.

    This is actual news, not sure we need the usual 'do you agree with my editorialising, let us know in the comments you saps!' rigmarole.

    Played the game on pc and loved it for what it was. A short term fling in a world too big for any one person to explore. Repetative yes but i dont think any reasonable person should have expected otherwise - the core gameplay is exactly as promised.... ok.. maybe the inability to see other players is a huge letdown.

    The interwebs reaction has made me a bit sick on the inside. This is why we cant have nice things you bunch of greedy cry babies. Anyway, no woder other major AAA developers stay so quiet about their games before release.

      ...And make the same tired, derivative thing over, and over, and over again.

    Oh, the the rank hypocrisy thats employed by rabid NMS acolytes like Nathan and his likes - where they will blame critical gamers for not having enough IMAGINATION for game x they they like because gamer critics don't see game x's 'potential' - and then now blame gamers excessive IMAGINATION for NMS not being what the " irate minority " wanted.

    Atrocious trolling hypocrisy. NMS has really brought out the inner troll that was always close to the surface for too many media fanbots, and as convincingly demonstrated above.

    The Acolyte Army went into reflexive, and now offensive self deployment for MNS, a terrible game IMO , to what should be their shame, but won't be, because their self imposed stamping of their identity onto a silly game means more to them.

    Last edited 30/08/16 12:07 pm

      And hateful, generalising vitriol and hyperbole is better how?

        Snipped off the comments here -- please keep it civil, guys.

      So we can't ask consumers to take responsibility for their own actions?
      Like don't preorder games. Pretty sure some people have been saying that for years now.
      Don't believe marketing. That should be in the standard repertoire.
      Don't ask for a refund on a product you spent an entire weekend having fun with.

      Some people are quite capable of managing expectations. It seems gamers, in general, are quite terrible at it and they'll be damned if they take responsibility for their own actions. Why would they when they can just mount a huge attack on the people that bring them games in the first place?

      I've clocked up close to 100 hours with NMS. I had no idea about it before I bought it save one conversation with a guy at game traders. I don't regret my purchase in the slightest but the reaction of the masses is truly sickening.

        normally i'd agree but i think it's a bit different when the creators of the game flat out lied about what was in the game and it's a game where you could possibly play for a decent amount of time before realising it's missing things.

          Yes, people played for 10's of hours and thought: "hmmm, not sure if it has X feature, I better play while having fun for X hours more to make sure".
          You either like the game or you don't. Same with any game really. If you cannot tell if you're having fun after a couple of hours then I dare say pebkac.

            well it's not about having fun. you can buy a ferrari drive it around and have fun but still return it when you find out it doesn't have air conditioning when it was advertised as including air conditioning.

              Bad analogy, you'd just have the dealer fit the air conditioning in since they would be the ones that left it out or gave you the wrong car.
              A more apt analogy is going to see a movie that supposedly had Will Smith in it. You watched the whole movie, enjoyed it, but at the end you realized Will Smith wasn't in it so are now demanding your money back.

                I have one...

                It's kind of like a company or rep who made misleading claims in their marketing material, or something like that.

                On your other point, I have accepted my part in this already, but that still leaves the issue with NMS. Because shame on me is fine and all, but my personal intellectual realisations aren't subject to consumer law

                  And consumer law would need to be tested because t basically amounts to "the game wasn't as good as I hoped, I want my money back".
                  That's it.

                And consumer law would need to be tested because t basically amounts to "the game wasn't as good as I hoped, I want my money back".
                That's it.

                That's a fair opinion, but what your suggesting is covered fairly extensively in the framework, to avoid exactly that.
                They make every attempt to ensure your claim isn't trivial or based on a whim before pursuing.

                My case is based on the misleading marketing, which has already been established and is considered a serious offence and grounds for a valid complaint.
                Yes, I have already started the ball rolling and it would appear I'm not the only one.

                It amazes me how angry people are getting that I felt mislead and have decided to see it through to a conclusion, what ever the result.
                I accepted my part and expressively told people who liked the game to stick to their guns, enjoy it and don't let others change their minds, but apparently that all makes me a crazy and entitled brat with no grasp on reality.

                Ah well *shrugs*

                Last edited 31/08/16 8:03 pm

              Oh would you people quit it with the dumb analogies about cars or whatever. They don't fit, it's not the same.

                You see, an analogy is kind of like....a car?
                It's supposed to get you somewhere, but it will prob break down...

          There's also a definite sizeable subset of people who bought the game at release on the word of patch day reviews and streams.

      I too like to spend my time getting angry and ranty about a video game that had a bunch of things missing. These are the real priorities in life

        adding shitty replies with no substance to every comment is far more pressing!

    I think the biggest issue where was the vague marketing and even more vague responses from the devs when they were asked questions. They were straight with what was in the game or what the game was about and so it was quite easy for people to interpret what they were saying as something different.

    Throw that in with a premium game price tag and the expectations were realistic. The game didn't deliver on those expectations and it took over a week for even the most diehard section of the fan base to discover what they thought was in the game actually wasn't. Hence long player times asking for a refund.

    It's a sticky issue but it comes down to whether or not the game was mis-represented in the advertising and developer comments. If it was then it doesn't matter how long someone has been playing it. If the parts that were mis-represented were their main reasons for buying the game then they're entitled to a refund.

    I am trying to get a refund currently, I have 16 hours in game, Valve is covered by the ACCC's consumer rights including misleading advertising, regardless of playtime, if you remember Valve lost in federal court and can face a $1.1 million fine every breach of this law, I'm hoping they refund me or else I am going through the ACCC.

    Did you say PSN has a blanket ban on refunding downloaded games? That seems like it would contravene Australia's Consumer Guarantee laws...

    Refund policies will never override local consumer guarantees, like in Aus.

    https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/consumer-guarantees

    Good chance of a refund if you can argue the game doesn't meet any of these guarantees.

    I'm just waiting and hoping consumers will start to realise developers can tell you whatever they like while the game is under lock and key, and this has been proven time and time again in the past. Case in point ACM, BF4, Sim CIty. Until the game is released into the wild there is no way of knowing how well it will meet expectations. WAIT TO BUY!!!

    What kind of guarantee's would this game have failed to meet? They're being pretty uncooperative with the refunds.

    I have tried the automated refund 3 times now, and even made a support ticket to talk to an actual person and have been denied for a 4th time. I give up wasting my time on this game anymore. I won't be getting my money back and I've never felt so damn lied to by a developer before. Lesson learned. Never pre-order. That and pirate first and if it turns out to be good, pay for it.

    No Mans Sky in it's current state is worth no more than $15.
    It's a 2 and a half gig game of empty promises.

      Are you really implying that the price of a game should be in proportion with how big the file size is?

        not at all.

        But if you want to -
        Hotline Miami is like under 100mb and shits on NMS in terms of replayability.

        Last edited 01/09/16 2:08 pm

    The game is all mine and no craft; all second but no life; all stone but no hearth. I'll never buy a full price game on release ever again.

    Just a heads up, I just got a full refund of the game under the ACL through valve support ticket. Most of them are quite rude and you really have to push the point that the ACL over ride all of the companies returb policies.

    Good luck to everyone going for a refund.

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