Steam's new refund policy

General discussion about Cyan products / the company.

Steam's new refund policy

Postby Magic88889 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:33 pm

Have any of you guys seen this? http://store.steampowered.com/steam_refunds/

Steam will now give refunds to people if the have 1) played the game less than 2 hours, and 2) purchased it less than 2 weeks ago, with no questions asked.

There has been a lot of discussion about this, some praising it, some condemning it. Most of the people condemning it cite the two hours, and the automatic nature of it. Small developers especially seem concerned. Especially ones with short games. Personally, I think there is a huge potential for abuse with this system. Refunds should be on a case by case basis, not automatically given if you meed the requirements.

Here's a pretty good article citing some of the issues with this system: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/06 ... m-refunds/

So what do you think? Is this the refund policy that we need, or is it going to hurt smaller developers like our beloved Cyan?
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Twitch » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:22 am

I think it's a great thing. So far, the only people that seem to be having trouble with the policy are people that make low-quality games. The vocal opposition is calling this 'abuse', but they're just whining that they can't sell their short little experiments anymore. Well guess what, if people are demanding refunds for your experiments, it means your game wasn't worth money and you don't deserve money for making it.

If you look at the system from a different angle, you see that the refunds policy is equal for all games regardless of the size of the studio. The AAA game industry has it's own issues, but right now the only barrier for entry for an indie game is greenlight, which is deeply flawed because you can't actually play the game before voting. The reason these indie devs are so vocal is because Steam has become choked with garbage indie games, and this policy is a much better form of quality control than greenlight ever could be. From what I've seen, the people who are complaining the loudest have the most bad reviews.

Another major gripe seems to be the idea of downloading a game, copying it elsewhere, and then receiving a refund. I don't see how this is any different than simply piracy, which is already easy enough without telling Steam that you did it.

Overall, I don't see how empowering the consumer could ever be seen as a bad thing. The people that are going to refund Obduction are the people that don't like or can't run Obduction, and taking their money simply isn't ethical anyway.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby JWPlatt » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:05 am

Twitch wrote:Overall, I don't see how empowering the consumer could ever be seen as a bad thing.

I know nothing of the Steam refund issue; this is news to me. But I will say that eBay is tilted so far in favor of the buyer that I will not use it as a seller. Abuse by buyers ripping off sellers is endemic with no effective recourse. I think it's "a bad thing" there. It's not a bad thing to protect buyers, but it is possible to go too far, enabling and encouraging abuse on the other end.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby belford » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:52 am

So far, the only people that seem to be having trouble with the policy are people that make low-quality games.


That's going too far. I've seen reports from real indie developers of worryingly high refund rates (from purchases going back as far as six months, not just the past two weeks).

I've also seen reports from developers who have *not* seen very high return rates.

The sense of the community so far is that having a refund policy is good, but it's too early to tell how abusable it is or how this will impact developers. We're keeping a very close eye on it.

(I say "we" because my text adventure got Greenlit. Did I mention that?) (It's not up on Steam yet because I have additional UI work to do.)

Also: not everybody is convinced that a one-size-fits-all refund policy is the best plan -- for example, there are games which take less than two hours to *finish*.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Twitch » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:07 pm

I've seen reports from real indie developers of worryingly high refund rates (from purchases going back as far as six months, not just the past two weeks).


I'd like to see specific games here, because some of the games I've seen cited were arguably pretty garbage.
Also, Steam seems to be currently accepting refunds older than 14 days because the policy was just rolled out, I don't think that will last very long. The only game I've gotten refunded was Homeworld Remastered, which I bought back in April and turned out to be a buggy mess instead of the graphical update we were advertised. I actually had to go through an approval process for that, it wasn't 'no questions asked'
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby belford » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:30 pm

I've seen a mix of the same articles everybody else has seen ( http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/2452 ... policy.php , e.g.) and private discussion. I won't try to pick out specific titles. (Anyhow I don't want to fall down a rathole of deciding which games are "pretty garbage" when I haven't played them.)

Also, Steam seems to be currently accepting refunds older than 14 days because the policy was just rolled out, I don't think that will last very long.


Sure, that's part of "too early to tell". But it's also true that we're all guessing about those details, which is not the ideal in transparency.

(And I can promise you, as a newly-registered Steam developer, that I don't know any more about their refund policy than you do.)
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Twitch » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:23 pm

I do agree that Steam needs to be transparent. There are quite a few things I dislike about Steam's policies. While this new policy isn't perfect, its a step in the right direction. (Nobody complains about people returning items at retail stores, and many of them have a very similar refund policy to this one)
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby JWPlatt » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:15 pm

Returns to retail stores require deliberate effort by the consumer. i.e., it's not automatic.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Twitch » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:59 pm

You can't possibly claim that one policy is better simply because the consumer needs to drive someplace to keep himself from getting ripped off.

What I think Steam should do is make it so people who get lots and lots of refunds need to get approval after a certain amount, where they have to cite a reason for the refund. Scrapping the entire system would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And I suppose it would be fair to make very cheap games have smaller refund windows, but honestly if your game is less than 2 hours long it's not a game; it's a demo.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Magic88889 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:17 pm

Doing some searching, I found this video that has actual responses from developers. I can't say if they make "garbage" games or not, there's quite a few of them, and there's a link in the video description to more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPUToCNq-iA


Basically, most are saying that it's way too early to have any kind of meaningful statistics. But most are also expressing some concern about the possibility for abuse.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby WeldFord » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:38 am

Only one soluton : get rid of Steam. :mrgreen:
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Ian Atrus » Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:28 am

I agree that a 2-hour flat may hurt the small and indie devs (and we're not talking just 'garage games' or experiments, but also big names like TellTale or Red Thread), since you can make complete playthroughs of some games in that time.
However, allowing indie devs to lower that time is going to bring more problems, because: 1. on what authority do you allow, say, Tale of Tales to allow one hour of 'free' game but not EA or Cyan? money invested in the game? average playtime? whether the company is in the stock market or not?; and 2. if a refund is for a legitimate software problem, it might take the whole of the 2 hours to fix it, regardless of game length. It's not a Steam game but, to use it as an example, it took me a week of fiddling with drivers and settings to get Dragon Age Inquisition to play properly on my system.

Steam also says that, if an user is found guilty of abusing the refund system, they will block their ability to ask for further refunds. Unfortunately, what constitute 'abuse' hasn't really been specified.

In general and for all media, however, I found that those willing to give money to a creator/content will find ways to do it, and those who do not want to will find ways to get around without paying. IMHO, giving more rights to honest customers who buy through official channels is worth the price (heh) of the small amount of sales that will be lost to refunds.
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Re: Steam's new refund policy

Postby Twitch » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:01 am

[Reveal] Spoiler: Some relevant tweets
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