Steam announced that they will be offering refunds for games bought through the Steam digital distribution service. It’s been a problem in the past that there was no real recourse for customers who ended up with a faulty game or a game that wasn’t compatible with their computer. And hey, sometimes you just end up not liking a game. If you’ve paid a lot of money for it, that can be pretty obnoxious.
These refunds will be available within 14 days, and only if the game has only been played for less than 2 hours (Steam tracks this). You’ll be able to get a refund for any reason. Steam is also willing to look at games that fall outside of these rules on a case-by-case basis.
This is good news for consumers but not for some developers. I’ll use a case example: one of my favorite games is The Yawgh. It’s by indie game developer Damian Sommer and comic artist Emily Carroll. I love The Yawgh. I’ve played it probably eight times in the past month. I can do this because the game is only about 20 minutes long. I’ve clocked about 2 hours in this game. With Steam’s refund policy, I would be able to return The Yawgh for a full refund, and Sommer and Carroll would have given away their game for free.
A lot of indie games are short. Some people don’t like short games, which is fine. But others—like me—find that quality is more important than quantity. I don’t mind spending a couple of dollars for a wonderful game, even if it only lasts a couple of hours or less.
I’m happy to hear that Steam refunds are being offered, because I’ve been stuck with a buggy game in the past, and it sucks. But I hope they reassess their policy with shorter games in mind.