Smaller Devs Abused By Steam's "No Questions Asked" Refund Policy

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viranimus:

"Bloody hell steam refund rate has gone from 0.09% to 17%. Methinks people are taking the piss. Here comes DRM again sadly..." Harris lamented.

OK I do not get this at all. So... a company is going to implement DRM because they HAD been supporting DRM free, but because a DRM client decides to cut into their profit they are going to abandon DRM free?

I think my brain just broke.

They released the game on steam without it being integrated into steams DRM. In other words because of this when someone got a refund for their game that person could just keep the game on their computer and continue to play it. The dev had no way of knowing if the person who had gotten the refund had actually removed the game.

I'm going to echo what I said in the GID forum thread this subject, which is that this whole attitude of 'oh this is going to kill indie devs' is the exact same logic being used by triple A studios to put in DRM.

It's an assumption that every player in the world wants to steal rather then pay for something they want. And as I said there, if a game is GOOD, then no matter how short it is I would never refund it. However, there are games I have brought that I would want a refund for because I found myself not enjoying it, and not because I'm not 'giving it a chance', just not enjoying themselves. If a little over an hour and a half in ai'm still not having fun, that tells me there is a mechanical, fundamental thing that I'm not enjoying.

But again. it's the old assumption of "Every player is just a pirate unless we DRM" or something like it."

if the game is bad, i see no reason to keep it either. regardless if its 1 hour long or 20 hours. this is a good move from valve and indie developers should be more careful what they make. when games like slaughtering grounds get very bad reviews and other titles jim once touched up on, i sure as hell would like to get my money back too.
i have a bunch of games, indie and AAA, i wish i could get a refund. games i would never play again since they are bad or simply not fun at all or have some annoying issues like bad controls or port.

just yesterday i have purchased fahrenheit aka indigo prophecy when it was 50% off and in less than an hour of playing, i requested a refund. there was the option to explain as to why you want a refund, but you can simply choose the reasons as from technical issues, simply no fun and more. i chose "it is not what i expected", with no further explanation.
today i see that i got my full refund.
very happy with this since i dont see my self playing this game with its horrific controls.

Maybe more people will consider putting their games on GOG and Humble now, sans Steam codes. I'd be happy about that.

If this is the "necessary evil" or whatever in order for the market to have a real way to institute quality control and quit the fucking Unity asset flippers and sellers of broken garbage, then I'm totally okay with that. I think a one hour experience can absolutely be worth money, and if I made one, I would be happy if 83% of the people who gave me money for it thought that it was worth the money they gave me. I don't doubt that for devs used to a less pro-consumer Steam, it was great to know that if someone gave you money then they had no recourse at all.

If 17% of the people who took the time to buy your product didn't feel that it was worth money, then next time blow them away within the first 2 hours. If the experience is less than 2 hours, make it an amazing 2 hours or price it accordingly, but DRM shouldn't be on the table here. DRM doesn't work for piracy (you know, the actual fucking thing that consumers do when they don't want to give you money), and I can't believe that devs are talking about DRM being instituted to help work around a Steam initiative that cuts through the mountain of garbage and gives consumers more peace of mind.

I really am sorry that some people are making less money than they did on the old Steam, but that's the old Steam, and this new Steam has way too many positives if this is the real negative side of it.

Side note: Length isn't an issue to me here. There's games that are like 100 hours that I wish I could refund after 11 fucking minutes like Two Worlds or something, and if Journey were on Steam I would buy the soundtrack or do something to give Thatgamecompany more money than I had given them after completing it.

DrunkOnEstus:

Side note: Length isn't an issue to me here. There's games that are like 100 hours that I wish I could refund after 11 fucking minutes like Two Worlds or something, and if Journey were on Steam I would buy the soundtrack or do something to give Thatgamecompany more money than I had given them after completing it.

same here. i have purchased so far every DLC (except the bonus content pack) for "the talos principles" and havent regretted a single cent. got them all at full price. why? because the main game works and its lots of fun. croteam is a indie developer (as many would know) and i gladly give them my money to show them that i like their stuff.
i sure as hell will not give a single cent to gearbox for the huge let down called duke forever. now thats a game i wish i can get a refund.

Worgen:

viranimus:

"Bloody hell steam refund rate has gone from 0.09% to 17%. Methinks people are taking the piss. Here comes DRM again sadly..." Harris lamented.

OK I do not get this at all. So... a company is going to implement DRM because they HAD been supporting DRM free, but because a DRM client decides to cut into their profit they are going to abandon DRM free?

I think my brain just broke.

They released the game on steam without it being integrated into steams DRM. In other words because of this when someone got a refund for their game that person could just keep the game on their computer and continue to play it. The dev had no way of knowing if the person who had gotten the refund had actually removed the game.

OK thank you for that explanation. I understand what you are getting at. It still makes zero sense because it is displaced anger. If they are upset over steam instituting a policy that dicks them over, then they should not be abandoning DRM free (which works well enough for them on GOG & Humble)... they should be abandoning the DRM client that dicked them around in the first place. They should Abandon Steam. The DRM or lack their of is not the problem... The problem is Steam and its policy (Imagine that)

Edit: I know it works well enough for them, because for example I just bought the entire Democracy 3 series over on GOG just a few days ago. However this kind of attitude actually makes me want to request a refund cause I hate the idea of my money going to a company that ends up vilifying its customers

Sorry, but the sad reality of it all is that Steam refunds is an unquestionably good thing and if you suffer from them you should adapt to the market.

viranimus:

Worgen:

viranimus:

OK I do not get this at all. So... a company is going to implement DRM because they HAD been supporting DRM free, but because a DRM client decides to cut into their profit they are going to abandon DRM free?

I think my brain just broke.

They released the game on steam without it being integrated into steams DRM. In other words because of this when someone got a refund for their game that person could just keep the game on their computer and continue to play it. The dev had no way of knowing if the person who had gotten the refund had actually removed the game.

OK thank you for that explanation. I understand what you are getting at. It still makes zero sense because it is displaced anger. If they are upset over steam instituting a policy that dicks them over, then they should not be abandoning DRM free (which works well enough for them on GOG & Humble)... they should be abandoning the DRM client that dicked them around in the first place. They should Abandon Steam. The DRM or lack their of is not the problem... The problem is Steam and its policy (Imagine that)

Well, with the humble bundle, any sales are final. With gog, I understand that while they do offer refunds, you have to argue as to why you should get one. The dev is just worried people will buy his game then just return it from steam but keep the game. Essentially getting it for free without having to worry about bothering with a torrent site. It also probably changes how devs get paid since now instead of when sales are made they get paid, they can't count on that money for 2 weeks since there is always the possibility of people just wanting refunds, although I don't really know how it currently works with steam paying out to the devs.

His worry is just that its a very easy method to pirate his game.

Hmm so the steam refund hmmmmm...

Steam: "Here is a rather Strict refund policy better late the never am I right huh huh?"

Gamers: "Finally!"

Respectable Indies: "This is fair if they didn't like the game they deserve a refund its not like it 2 Months, 2 Hours. No Gain No Loss."

AAA Devs: "Nothing new here refunds have been in stores since the beginning."

Quick Cash Grabs Devs: "No Fair i/we's put lotsse of hard work in to this gam thing you owe me moneyyy!!1!DRM!"

Me:"So whats the problem again? It will just kill the those horrible games that come out every day from Greenlight and early alpha making sure they don't come back to abuse the system like they did before the refunds after all why do they avoid GOG and Origin even Desura."

loa:
You can't "refund and then keep playing" unless you do stuff that would enable you to keep playing regardless of DRM.

Not entirely true. It is possible to play a game without Steam actually running. One example I know of is Super Meat Boy.

Meh, I thought this might happen. I guess that's the minefield of return policies. If people can get something for free through legal avenues, they will. Steam refunds are necessary, but it IS going to dick over a lot of the guys making smaller things. From now on if smaller devs want to sell their stuff on Steam, they'll have to adapt to the new market and make sure their stuff is at least entertaining for two hours.

Some people here also seem to be equating length with quality, and I'd just like to point out the examples Portal and Journey. Would you demand those games cost nothing because they're short? Seems to me like going into a movie and demanding your money back at the end because it wasn't long enough, and these games are usually a lot cheaper than movies. That being said there is a lot of cash-grab shit on Steam these days, I'm just concerned about the actual quality stuff.

I dunno, some games are going to be entertaining for less than two hours. That's the flexibility of the medium. You can make something small but poignant, and it might be something you'll never want to play again. Doesn't mean it should have to be free.

Alfador_VII:

templar1138a:
Hey, Escapist. Enforce journalistic integrity among your writers. The title is biased and the story is seriously one-sided and lacking information that doesn't take much digging to find.

I'm not sure how many actual writers they have. The news is mostly copy/pasted from elsewhere, or re-typed with errors.

I can't remember who, but I know that one writer has caught flak in the past for posting [rumour] stories that only had 4chan or Reddit as their source...

Back on topic, while length is not an arbiter of quality, two hours is a good amount of time to assess games like The Witcher Three or Civ 5 to see if they have bugs or don't work somehow. It's essentially long enough to get past the "Tutorial".

And, I might also add. You don't have to pad length, make a game entertaining and re-playable like Portal or Journey and people will play it once through and then if they keep returning and purchasing every time they want to play it again (Let's face it, we all come back to some games we love now and then...) then that's not difficult to track and hit somebody with a hammer for.

From the game's page:

- Procedurally generated levels ensure non-repetitive and never ending fun.
- Many goals and upgrades waiting to be unlocked, providing hours of entertainment.

Apparently, "hours" means "less than two". I don't blame people for refunding.

A sudden uptick in refunds after valve started allowing it? That's like saying the ground is wet after raining wouldn't it?

Of course there will be more refunds...

The number of people impulse buying then regretted it after did not increase, There was just a solution that became available to them.

People would not go through the trouble of buying then refunding games if they have no intention of keeping them. They can and would probably just pirate them the old fashioned way. Why go through all the trouble and waiting for steam?

Oh no! You can't dump quick cash-grabs onto Steam anymore! What are you gonna do?

Jim Sterling did his Jimquisition on this topic and made some extremely valid points as well as other observations. Ill sum there here:

1) There will always be people that abuse the system for free games.
2) If people really wanted your game and didn't want to pay for it they would pirate it.
3) Some people are testing the refund waters with cheap games.
4) The game in question in this article has lots of negative reviews.
5) It was asset flippers and small companies that were screwing consumers in the first place. You reap what you sow.
6) If you don't want your game refunded make it worth the investment and know your target audience. Most Steam users do not tolerate mobile ports in the first place.
7) There is now a system in place for impulse buyers and for people who have buyer's remorse. This leads us to:
8) Most importantly, it is every consumer's right to request a refund on purchased goods, especially if the product was falsely advertised. The gaming industry is not special. There is nothing about it that inherently makes it exempt from allowing the right for a refund.

As my own addition: Likewise, you are not entitled to sales. If you won't listen to your customer's feedback then maybe the loss of sales will make you listen. Also, just because you made a game and put it on Steam doesn't mean it will sell. I'm sure that $35USD loss on the refunds is huge (/sarcasm). Many Americans can earn that in 3 hours or less.

TL;DR - Get over it you self-entitled pricks. If you don't want your game to be refunded then how about making a game worth playing. Gone is the time of developers screwing over their customers without fear of retaliation. Steam is no longer going to play big brother and cover for your mistakes.

Oh my God! Refunds went up from less than 1% to 17% when Steam went from being virtually impossible to get a refund from to being refundable?! MADNESS! This is obviously a failure.

Now, lets get real here. With the amount of unplayable garbage that gets on Steam, this is a necessity. The fact that it's only now just begun supporting this feature is probably more of a failure of its model prior to having this than anything. Of course "devs" who shovel garbage are going to have a problem with the customer having recourse to their swindling.

Good? Lets keep mobile games on the mobile platform?

They aren't losing money, not really they simply aren't getting the money they shouldn't have been getting in the first place.

also "Smaller devs"? more like one Developer, three days after the implementation of the program who's selling a mobile port.

Yeah question though. Of all the games players are getting refunds for, how many of them are shit?

And like Jim said, it's possible people are getting more confident and trying games they weren't going to try before because of the lack of a refund.

See, back and the days of old, we had these things called demos. If we played a demo and didn't like it, we didn't buy the game. That's mainly what's going on here.

And if people abuse the system to get two dollars back after playing a short ass game, odds are they weren't going to be buying the game in the first place.

I certainly am more likely to try buying a game which I don't know if it will run well or not on my pc if I can get a refund for it. Before I had to guestimate and err on the side of caution; now if it doesn't work, refund, and if it does, hooray money well spent.

EDIT: Also, according to Erik Kain of Forbes, 37% of steam games bought have never been played, so the market is still an over-generous one. People may return games after 2 hours/2 monthsweeks, but apparently a significant number of people will never play your game and still give you money for it <_<

loa:
The fuck does this even have to do with steam, who cares if a game that is tethered to steam anyway has (additional?)
DRM? Steam IS DRM.
You can't "refund and then keep playing" unless you do stuff that would enable you to keep playing regardless of DRM.
And how nonsensical is it anyway to boast to never use DRM and then have your games on steam only?

Wrong, wrong and wrong.
Steam is not DRM, Steam is a distribution system. Valve also has an optional DRM system that you can use with Steamworks.
Some developers choose not to use this DRM and so their games, even if they are downloaded through Steam they can be played completely separately from Steam.
This was not a problem before but, now, all a player has to do is, with a DRM free game on Steam, is copy the game files somewhere else and then claim a refund. After this has occurred Steam will cancel the game in their library but will have no way of knowing if it has been copied elsewhere (as the Steamworks DRM was not being used). This allows the player to effectively pirate the game without ever having to go to less secure websites.
As such, some of these developers now feel they have to use the Steamworks DRM that they would prefer not to.

Further, Cliffski, the developer in question here, does sell his games outside of Steam but, for obvious reasons, Steam is the most profitable place for them.

You people in the comments make me sick, to half of you your answer is "Well just make a better game!" sorry not all indie devs can make triple A games, and for 2 dollars, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

Steam never needed a refund policy like this, they need smarter customers, and don't try and tell me that you couldn't get a refund because the game doesn't work on your computer, they were already doing that.

I think this policy is shit.

The internet is horrible and you all know it, and everyone here is brushing off the fact that this platform is set up to be abused, which will lead to more anti-consumer trends to try fight it.

But then again, I live in a country where our consumer rights protection means steam always had to give us refunds, so I get to cast stones at a shitty system.

I mean the real solution, is to actually have your laws back up the little guy, but thats not how America works, right?

Ticklefist:
Maybe more people will consider putting their games on GOG and Humble now, sans Steam codes. I'd be happy about that.

If a dev isnt willing to stand behind a money back guarantee then chances are they have no confidence in thier creation in the first place.

Hence, nothing of value lost.

Not gonna lie, I hate steam. This makes steam slightly more tolerable. I also feel and for indie devs, but Steam honestly had this atmospher where absolutely anyone who wanted to could basically throw up a game on there and make money. Will this policy adversly effect some good indie devs? Of course. Will it also discourage some really BS games from going up on that store? Absolutely. Honestly I have no problem with this. It's a policy that is in line with EU law, and reflects the "if you don't like it, return it" policy that Americans are fond of. If you're upset because you can't make money, my heart bleeds for you, but its time to adapt. I can't see them making any headway fighting this one.

FogHornG36:
You people in the comments make me sick, to half of you your answer is "Well just make a better game!" sorry not all indie devs can make triple A games, and for 2 dollars, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

Steam never needed a refund policy like this, they need smarter customers, and don't try and tell me that you couldn't get a refund because the game doesn't work on your computer, they were already doing that.

I've played many, many free indie games that has more work put into them. Some of them lasting for dozens hours. If there's something that I'm expected to pay for, it better not make me want to return it within 2 hours.

Developers are finally answerable to their customers, and unfortunately, for some developers that answer is going to be "No".

FogHornG36:
You people in the comments make me sick, to half of you your answer is "Well just make a better game!" sorry not all indie devs can make triple A games, and for 2 dollars, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

Steam never needed a refund policy like this, they need smarter customers, and don't try and tell me that you couldn't get a refund because the game doesn't work on your computer, they were already doing that.

There is nothing wrong with a refund system. A no question asked refund system to me is where the problem lies. If someone completes a game I believe they don't deserve a refund because they knowingly completed the game. It would be like if someone watched a movie and then tried to get their money back because they didn't like it. If anything I think this proves that demos need to become a staple for games again.

Ticklefist:
Maybe more people will consider putting their games on GOG and Humble now, sans Steam codes. I'd be happy about that.

GOG has a similar refund policy and you can't refund games that were not bought through steam like those from humble bundle.

Bat Vader:
It would be like if someone watched a movie and then tried to get their money back because they didn't like it.

I think that's something you can do. Especially if the trailer(s) is misleading. I think you're more likely to get your refund in the form of a free movie ticket if you waited until the end to complain however. All depends on how many people are mad about the ending (see Devil Inside)

Jim Sterling put in a good point about this today: basically he stated that if you were to buy a short indie game, plot through it in under 2 hours and only to refund it, then it's likely that they wouldn't have bought your game otherwise anyway. Thus it isn't really losing sales so much as having a spike in people who buy and then refund their purchases. Which I guess makes this kinda like piracy.

Anyway, because I'm bad a summing up people's opinions, watch Jim's latest video here: https://youtu.be/k1-0dgDsCtw

P.S. I don't know how to embed videos. Wish I did.

loa:
The hell is this garbage?
You equate this to paid mods because some shitty IOS port gets refunded a lot and someone whines that they need to "reintroduce DRM" because people can't pirate that stuff anyway if they wanted to?
The fuck does this even have to do with steam, who cares if a game that is tethered to steam anyway has (additional?)
DRM? Steam IS DRM.
You can't "refund and then keep playing" unless you do stuff that would enable you to keep playing regardless of DRM.
And how nonsensical is it anyway to boast to never use DRM and then have your games on steam only?

So devs now need to make worthwhile games and if it's less than 2 hours long, it better have replay value?
Games need to be, like, good now or people return them a lot?
Boo fucking hoo, cry me a river.

Actually, lots of games on Steam can be run by the .exe file, regardless of whether Steam is on. There's a list of them somewhere, and it's pretty huge.

Don't get me wrong though, I don't think this justifies the claim, particularly since most people (including yourself :3) don't know about this to exploit it. That and, yeah, DRM isn't exactly infallible.

As usual, a lovely-in-concept system being ruined by assholes.

This is why we should not have nice things. (Yes, "should not".)

EDIT: To those commenting that people would not have bought the game anyways if not for the policy, I straight up do NOT believe you. At all. Before the policy change, sales were at an amount. After the policy change, they were at a disturbingly lower amount. The end. Explain.

And if you're going to tell me that people AREN'T abusing the system but are merely returning it because they didn't like the game and not because they're the worst breed of cheapskate, I simply don't believe you either. You're fooling no one, people on the whole are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling and I know this and you know this and your grandmother's dog knows this and we all know that people are not honoring the honor system. Don't pretend otherwise.

EndlessSporadic:

8) Most importantly, it is every consumer's right to request a refund on purchased goods, especially if the product was falsely advertised. The gaming industry is not special. There is nothing about it that inherently makes it exempt from allowing the right for a refund.

This.

Im sorry but im from the UK and have always found it dodgy that steam hasnt offered refunds on games. Its the law here, conumers have rights. I don't know how it works in the US but I pity you if you are that brainwashed by corporate culture that you support companys rights over consumers.

And just to add, i agree with everyone who points out, if I can complete your game in under 2 hours and am left with no interest in playing it ever again, then its a bad game, try harder next time.

eg, stanley parable, completed in 15 mins? played it many times for a quick chuckle.

Before it was developers abusing customers and now customers have the power to abuse developers. There are always going to be some jerks who abuse the system but for a healthy industry i think it is better for the customers. This buy/play/refund scam will probably calm down when the fury of people who will abuse it have finished doing the rounds and is similar to the spillage you would otherwise see as just plain piracy, only now you get fancy graphs to track it well.

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