New refund policy from Steam.

SomaelCK

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You can now ask for refund for a game for any reason, provided you owned less than 14 days and played less than 2 hours.

That got my concerns. This effectively made short narrative games like The Bird Story and Actual Sunlight targets for exploit. What is your take on this?

http://store.steampowered.com/steam_refunds/
 
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GethN7

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Torn. While this can effectively help people avoid buyer's remorse, it could be abused to screw over makers of short games, regardless of their quality.
 

SomaelCK

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And there are hordes of RPG Maker haters out there at Steam regardless of the quality of the game. What if they buy a game, plays 10 minutes and give negative review and then refund because they simply hate RM game and want to flood the game with negative reviews?

This could seriously damage the sales, especially at the initial launch period.

On the other hand, revoking the right to give review on the game you refunded is not right either. The game could be broken/ full of bugs and that's why you want a refund in the first place.
 
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Uzuki

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I'm pretty okay with it. While yes this can be abused, just like any system in the market, I feel it will do more good then bad. This will actually encourage people to buy more games. I've got a couple of RM games I've got my eye on, but I don't want to spend $10~$15 dollars for bad mapping, lackluster writing, and RTP filled maps. Now I can buy them, try them out for a hour and make a conclusion there. If it has me hooked within that hour then my money was well spent and I keep playing, if it doesn't hook me in a hour then I feel better knowing I can get my money back and it can either go back in my pocket or to another game I want.
 
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SomaelCK

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I'm pretty okay with it. While yes this can be abused, just like any system in the market, I feel it will do more good then bad. This will actually encourage people to buy more games. I've got a couple of RM games I've got my eye on, but I don't want to spend $10~$15 dollars for bad mapping, lackluster writing, and RTP filled maps. Now I can buy them, try them out for a hour and make a conclusion there. If it has me hooked within that hour then my money was well spent and I keep playing, if it doesn't hook me in a hour then I feel better knowing I can get my money back and it can either go back in my pocket or to another game I want.
I'm not so sure. Say, you buy a short but great game, like Gone Home at full price. The game itself can  be effectively finished in 2 hours. The game has been "consumed" and the buyer still have the claim for refund. Then most people will think that 20$ they paid is too much at that point, regardless of the quality. Even AAA games like Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zero can be finished in 2 hours (I did in about 45 mins). That's effectively giving out "Free Rentals".

I have no problem with refunding itself. But I honestly think giving refund for ANY game for ANY reason, as long as it's under 2 hours of playtime is like saying we are giving you chance for  "free rentals" for shorter games.

-EDIT-

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think all the RPG Maker games on Steam (As of today) can be launch in offline mode and I am very sure they all can be finished in 14 days. I can smell the exploits from miles...
 
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Scythuz

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Yeah at the moment this is a problem I'm really worried about, particularly in light of how badly Valve have handled things like Greenlight and the whole paid mod fiasco.  My main worry is how easily pirated things without proper copyright protection (mainly rm games and dlc resources) will be if the refunding system is too lenient.

I also do agree that the main reason this is a problem is because a refund can be given for any reason, in order for a system like this not to have massive repercussions for everyone involved, that really needs to be changed. 
 

cabfe

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If the refund is motivated (hardware related etc) there's no problem.

I'm quite certain there will be a need to justify asking for a refund, not just say "It was meh" and get your money back. Well, I hope it'll be like this.

Also, maybe this will make developpers offer demos of their games instead of only the full-featured-full-priced one.

It's pretty common in the RM community, especially for feedback but even commercial games have demos. You shouldn't be allowed to get a refund when a demo is available.

Of course, that's still a problem for short games. Having a 1 hour demo sometimes is enough to finish a game, like Bird Story.
 

Esrever

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Let me preface this by stating that I do feel like many of your worries are warranted and are not of some monolith. Around the web you can clearly see these same concerns, especially as Scythuz had mentioned, with recent events concerning the Greenlight and paid workshop mods. I certainly feel that Valve needs to implement changes to the system as it stand today, but they are limited in what they can do as well. For those unaware, this has been coming for some time now and Valve has been resisting it.

Australia and the European Union both have their own respective consumer protections laws which stipulate that in order to do trade under a registered business within their country and/or when accepting payment in the Australian Dollar or Euro, the business must accept certain conditions in regards to refunds. Previously, Valve's Steam service was exempting themselves from such responsibilities by having consumers waive their rights upon purchase by stating that Valve had held up their obligations once the digital goods had been delivered. This has since led to lawsuits against the company and is why we are seeing these changes being made.

To provide quotes from Europa.eu's English site.

Returning unwanted goods

14 days to withdraw when purchasing goods

In the EU, for contracts concluded as of 13 June 2014, you have the right to withdraw from your online purchase as well as from purchases made elsewhere than in shops (e.g. from a salesman on your doorstep; by phone or mail order) within 14 days.

This “cooling off” period expires 14 days after the day you received your goods. However, if this period expires on a non-working day, your deadline is extended till the next working day.

You can choose to withdraw from your order for any reason within this timeframe - even if you simply changed your mind.
Warning!

Please note that you may not use goods that you have received before deciding to withdraw from the purchase. The right to withdraw exists to allow you to examine the product in the same way as you would in a shop, not to give you 14 days free use.

Be aware also that more specific rules apply to digital content (e.g. downloading or streaming music or video).
Shopping online

Digital content

Specific information requirements apply when you buy digital content online, e.g. when downloading or streaming music or video. Before you make the purchase, you must also be informed how the content operates with relevant hardware/software (interoperability) and about its functionality, including whether any geographical restrictions apply to the use of the content and if private copies are allowed.
You also enjoy the right of withdrawal within 14 days from concluding the contract for online digital content. However, once you start downloading or streaming the content you may no longer withdraw from the purchase, provided that the trader has complied with his obligations. Specifically, the trader must first obtain your explicit agreement to the immediate download or streaming, and you must explicitly acknowledge that you lose your right to withdraw once the performance has started.
So you see, this isn't exactly something that can be completely skirted around. These changes are going to be here to stay, in at least some form, going forward. I do think that there should be a more strict set of rules that are to be followed for purchases via Steam on returns, as the two hour grace period for instance is not something required. Fixes to offline mode manipulation also need to be reconciled where possible, as well as any other means of exploitation. There are fixes to be made, and hopefully the development community will have their voices heard and we'll see those fixes, but you have to also realize where this is coming from too.
 
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Wavelength

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I think it would be better if the developer got to choose whether to offer this refund (and each game would be clearly marked as "refundable" or "non-refundable".  But this is a step in the right direction for everyone.  It gives the player better protection but also gives them an incentive to take the plunge and buy a game they're not sure about, which I think will be good for the developers (and for Steam) more often than not.
 

Andar

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And to add a bit of background: these laws have been created to protect against several cases of aggressive or illegal sales. There have been companies who pressed people to purchase something they don't need, or who made wrong descriptions (online or by phone) of the objects of sale and so on. And you often couldn't proove what was said on phone or written on a website after an admin changing it...


Things like selling a high-prized 3D-TV-system to an old, one-eyed lade who didn't understand what the salesman was talking about.


As with all cases there are loopholes, but it also has been proven that those loopholes aren't exploited as often as feared.


For example the same laws require the shop to pay for shipping back of the unused objects if they're not digital, and there was a lot of opposition to that stating that this would cost the shop too much for cancelled sales. In the end that didn't happen often enough to need more than a tiny percentage of the price set aside to cover for the few items shipped back.
 

Esrever

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I think it would be better if the developer got to choose whether to offer this refund (and each game would be clearly marked as "refundable" or "non-refundable".  But this is a step in the right direction for everyone.  It gives the player better protection but also gives them an incentive to take the plunge and buy a game they're not sure about, which I think will be good for the developers (and for Steam) more often than not.
This seems much more likely in the way of DLC than with each game. Exclusions to DLC refunds could be things which allow your character to advance past a point of return (such as reaching a higher level or receiving items only available in an expansion) or DLC which is offered in the way of additional assets that are not able to be protected once downloaded.

As far as games themselves go, we may see a reduction in the time allotted each user that has purchased a license. We may see a minimum amount of time with a developer decided adjustable maximum limit. Say the minimum on all games is 30 minutes of gameplay, but larger AAA studios with games lasting 20 hours or greater for a run-through could set their limit to 4 hours.

As far as independently developed games go, specifically in regards to RPG Maker games, there are numerous methods of protecting your game's assets to help prevent people from abusing this current refund policy. You must remember though that DRM is similar in ways to how locks are with doors. They're there to keep honest people honest. If someone wants to pirate your game and they have the knowledge and/or determination, they will. One should never expect to thwart 100% of all piracy but only to minimize it as much as possible and to capitalize on it when it does happen.
 

Makio-Kuta

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Like Esrever said, if someone wants to pirate something, they will. Whether there are new policies in place that make it easier or harder for them, they'll find a way.

Selling anything is a system of trust between the seller and the customer, and it's a pretty common trend for policies to bend in favour of making the customer feel more secure. (They are the one handing out the money afterall) people who cheat and abuse those systems always exist, but for every one of them you have [x] many honest people. Yeah, the scammers suck and they stand out more because interaction with them is going to be more 'memorable,' but at the end of the day, they are just one person.

Plus, with the growing trend of 'pay for what you want to see more of' through things like kickstarter, *******, etc I've noticed (at least in other circles like comics and stuff) people latching onto that more and more and being more willing to support creators they like monetarily. So again, scammers will undoubtfully exist, but there will also be honest people who want to pay for the games they enjoy.
 

cabfe

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(...)Also, maybe this will make developpers offer demos of their games instead of only the full-featured-full-priced one.It's pretty common in the RM community, especially for feedback but even commercial games have demos. You shouldn't be allowed to get a refund when a demo is available.

(...)
Excuse me for auto-quoting myself, but I realized that it was probably a silly idea. It looks like you can get a refund even if there's a demo provided.

In fact, on the contrary of what I've said, it's because you can have a refund that demos will no longer be needed.

The game itself will become a demo and you can test if it's OK for you.

Although, a free demo to know if a game will not crash on your computer is easier to handle than having to ask for a refund, justifying it etc.

The problem is to prevent abuse from this possibility.

There could be a new type of DRM, using online connectivity to measure time. After a set amount of time playing a game, it will register your purchase with no refund possible. If you have a problem, just report before the end of the timer.

But for games with no DRM policy or rejecting constant online requirement, it fails.
 

Sharm

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I would just like to point out that the mentality of someone getting a refund from a game they played and the mentality of a pirate is different. This isn't a situation where a pirate's going to pirate anyway, so let's not make things hard for consumers. This is something where people who would normally be just fine with paying will start asking for refunds for fully completed games.  These people will think "It's permitted within the rules, how could it be morally wrong?"  and even more that won't think that far but just "Well, I'm done now.  Oh hey, I could still get my money back!"
 

Galenmereth

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I think you guys missed something important:

You also enjoy the right of withdrawal within 14 days from concluding the contract for online digital content. However, once you start downloading or streaming the content you may no longer withdraw from the purchase, provided that the trader has complied with his obligations. Specifically, the trader must first obtain your explicit agreement to the immediate download or streaming, and you must explicitly acknowledge that you lose your right to withdraw once the performance has started.
This is from the alert quote under the section "Digital content" here: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/shopping/buy-sell-online/rights-e-commerce/index_en.htm

Nintendo has implemented this in the European eShop months ago; when you purchase a digital product, there's a window warning you that you agree that their delivery of "the product" starts immediately, and that you therefore lose your right to withdraw your purchase.

The result? Very little is changed. Except there's more protection for consumers if the seller doesn't uphold their end of the sale, for example by lying about the contents of the game. What this means is that developers and publishers will have to be more honest about their games, or people can easily get their money back since that breaches the trust part of the delivery contract.

Edit: It seems Steam's own refund policy is different, but they do specify that:

 and if the underlying title has been played for less than two hours since the DLC was purchased, so long as the DLC has not been consumed, modified or transferred.
I assume this means that if the game or content has been completed, it's not refundable anymore, as it's then been "consumed".
 
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Makio-Kuta

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As a person who has worked in retail for over 10 years, of course those people who buy something, use it for what they need, and return it before the allotted refund period has past exist. But again, the number of HONEST people who don't do that far out number them at the end of the day.

The place I work at now has a 14 day refund policy w/ package and receipt, used or not, no questions asked. For the most part, the majority of people returning stuff are returning it because it didn't work for them, not in some abuse for the system. You get like one person every three days that you suspect the whole "Oh they just needed this popcorn maker while they had friends over" rental feeling. (And they aren't as annoying as the ones who steal the stuff off the shelf and try to return it)

Perhaps pirate was the wrong word to use. DISHONEST people will always exist and always find ways to be dishonest, but the honest person still out numbers them.
 

Esrever

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I hope I didn't come across as someone who thought they were one in the same, Sharm. I do indeed think that changes should be made so as to limit the amount of issues that could occur from the typical user who sees a method of exploitation and takes it. However, until changes are made, there are some preventative measures one could put into place for certain scenarios that would prevent such things. In the respect of DRM/protection in general, it is there to keep your average user at bay.

If you are using RPG Maker to create your game and you do not use any protection measures, then one is leaving themselves open to exploitation if their game is one hour long or twenty hours long because it is easy to copy the files and circumvent the SteamStub wrapper on the Game.exe file by simply replacing it with an unprotected copy. If additional steps are taken, this at least becomes less of a worry.

They're two separate areas, each with their own difficulties. I suspect most of us already realize this, and at the very least, it isn't lost on me.
 

Galenmereth

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If you are using RPG Maker to create your game and you do not use any protection measures, then one is leaving themselves open to exploitation if their game is one hour long or twenty hours long because it is easy to copy the files and circumvent the SteamStub wrapper on the Game.exe file by simply replacing it with an unprotected copy.
Except games released on gog.com and most indie games on Humble Bundle do this already; no copy protection, because it often ends up hurting the trustworthy buyers more than the untrustworthy ones. This isn't the place to get into the pros and cons of DRM, I realize that, but I just want to point out that this is more and more becoming a "non-issue" as more and more statistics indicate that the cost / benefit ratio of DRM for small studios is not worth it.

And lest it gets buried in off topic posts, please read my previous post: this policy doesn't do what most seem to think it does.
 

Esrever

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I think you guys missed something important:

This is from the alert quote under the section "Digital content" here: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/shopping/buy-sell-online/rights-e-commerce/index_en.htm

Nintendo has implemented this in the European eShop months ago; when you purchase a digital product, there's a window warning you that you agree that their delivery of "the product" starts immediately, and that you therefore lose your right to withdraw your purchase.

The result? Very little is changed. Except there's more protection for consumers if the seller doesn't uphold their end of the sale, for example by lying about the contents of the game. What this means is that developers and publishers will have to be more honest about their games, or people can easily get their money back since that breaches the trust part of the delivery contract.
This isn't something that was missed. This is exactly how Valve had implemented their sales through Steam as well.

See:



Things have since changed because this practice has been deemed as non-abiding in certain jurisdictions. As such, we see this new implementation. You should expect similar changes through many distributors and not solely via Steam.
 

cabfe

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It's not really common, but there are games even on Steam that do not require nor use the Steam connectivity. How would they know about the 2 hours?

The recently released Homesick, for example, can be played just by launching the exe. Steam is only needed for installing the game.

Would that mean that it'll no longer be possible to have that kind of game? Or would they be in a separate category where "no refund is available", which is doubtful, if legal.

Steam will have to do the same as GoG does at the moment, with the same potential risk of abuse.
 

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