New refund policy from Steam.

Esrever

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It's NOT the refund that the short games are worry about. It's the "Free Rental" Abuse that short games devs are worry about.

You play a game to the end and return it for full price, is "free rental" and is morally wrong.

Current 2 hours test-period is opened to that abuse for games shorter than two hours. There should be flexibility to cover this up. No one is against refunding. Like 30 mins or 1 hour is enough to decide whether you like the game or not for Short Games.
People already pirate games which are found on Steam. This allows people who'd be looking to abuse any such "free rentals" to simply pirate, which has been an option to them for far longer than this refund policy was even in place. Also, to quote myself earlier:

[...] refunded sales, like pirated copies, do not necessarily mean lost sales since you are unable to prove that those potential customers were going to buy your game to begin with if not for the availability of such refund policies in place. Correlation does not imply causation. A portion of these customers might [actually even like the game and wish to purchase the game since it was enjoyable], which actually may [...] [increase] sales.
 

Tuomo L

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Games like Actual Sunlight and A Bird Story only asked for like 5$. I think, (my own opinion) that it's perfectly fine. You pay about the same for cinema (one time experience) and some short books, anyway.

Let me make a speculation here.

Games like Gone Home make you feel like it's "Worth Playing" but as soon as you finished under 2 hours, most people will start to feel like the game is not "Worth Keeping". It's nothing to do with game's quality at this point. Most people don't need a special reason to get 20$ back at this point. Like if you can ask your 12$ from a cinema right after a credit scene, I honestly think most ppl will ask for 12$ back. Regardless of the quality of the movie.
Expect cinema has actors, better music and visual effects and books are usually longer. People watch movies when they want to watch and read when they want to read.... and play games when they want to play games.

You need to have faith in your customers. They're your customers and at the end of the day they are the guys with the money and can decide what to do with it. If they like your product, they will not ask for refund. I didn't go see Dark Knight and thought "Man, I loved this movie but it sure would be fun to get my money back" but Man of Steel blew ass and if someone would have offered to pay me the money back ,I would have accepted.
 
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SomaelCK

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Expect cinema has actors, better music and visual effects and books are usually longer. People watch movies when they want to watch and read when they want to read.... and play games when they want to play games.

You need to have faith in your customers. They're your customers and at the end of the day they are the guys with the money and can decide what to do with it. If they like your product, they will not ask for refund. I didn't go see Dark Knight and thought "Man, I loved this movie but it sure would be fun to get my money back" but Man of Steel blew ass and if someone would have offered to pay me the money back ,I would have accepted.
But there! My point is there.

Just because of a movie is bad, you are not entitled to watch it for free. Just because of the game is short, it shouldn't be opened for abuse.

Flexible test period is win win for both.

People already pirate games which are found on Steam. This allows people who'd be looking to abuse any such "free rentals" to simply pirate, which has been an option to them for far longer than this refund policy was even in place. Also, to quote myself earlier:
I will just quote Sharm

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!"
 
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Tuomo L

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But there! My point is there.

Just because of a movie is bad, you are not entitled to watch it for free. Just because of the game is short, it shouldn't be opened for abuse.

Flexible test period is win win for both.
Expect you're the one who proposed the refunds from the movie in the first place, if they allow refunds and my reason was that the movie was one of the worst movies I've seen in years then I deserve my money back as a customer. If you are going to allow refunds, you cannot go cherry picking and singling out your customers who have valid and completely legimate reason to want a refund.

That's not abuse towards short games, having a refund system and then putting all these limitations because of lack of content from the game would be abuse towards your customers who had to pay for a game that's just barely longer than some demos.
 

SomaelCK

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Expect you're the one who proposed the refunds from the movie in the first place, if they allow refunds and my reason was that the movie was one of the worst movies I've seen in years then I deserve my money back as a customer. If you are going to allow refunds, you cannot go cherry picking and singling out your customers who have valid and completely legimate reason to want a refund.

That's not abuse towards short games, having a refund system and then putting all these limitations because of lack of content from the game would be abuse towards your customers who had to pay for a game that's just barely longer than some demos.
I am not saying you should take out the refund system. Never said that.

I am only pointing out the fact, short games are opened for abuse than longer games. Flexible test-period is all we need to set things right.

You test the short game for 30 mins, decide whether you should keep it or not. If the game is not worth your time. Refund it. What's so wrong with it??
 

Tuomo L

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I am not saying you should take out the refund system. Never said that.

I am only pointing out the fact, short games are opened for abuse than longer games. Flexible test-period is all we need to set things right.

You test the short game for 30 mins, decide whether you should keep it or not. If the game is not worth your time. Refund it. What's so wrong with it??
The thing that you'd have to give short games special treatment and such would require altering the coding and it'd be needless busy work from Steam to incorporate numerous algorhitms which would count the length of the game (which could be debatable or even easily manipulated by scummy devs to make the whole thing anti consumer again) Just make your games have more depth and length instead and your players will like your games more and not ask refunds.
 

Makio-Kuta

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For short games, what if developers were told to set an average play time to their games when submitting them - and the policy (rather than a flat 2hours) works on a percentage of the total estimated gametime to beat it. So like, you can't play for longer than 20% of the estimated game time.

Developer sets an estimated playtime of 10hours, so Steam's refund limit is 2hours. If the developer sets an estimated playtime of 2hours, the Steam refund limit is around 24minutes. 1hour game - 12minutes. Then have a low end and a high end cap. Refund window is never greater than 2hours and never lower than 10minutes.

With shorter games I think most people form their opinions pretty quickly anyway. (Especially if it is those short, interactive movie styled ones. If the writing or art direction (which those tend to focus around) sucks, you'll know in seconds.)

Obviously this puts the trust back in the hands of the developers to set an HONEST estimated gameplay time, but again, the sales industry is based around trust. (though it should be the customer who is on the safer end of that trust) A system like that is going to involve a lot of moderation on Steam's part - listening to customers who might complain that a game lied about how short/long it was and screwed with the refund system. (example: A game with a 1/2hour intro cutscene lies and says that there game has a only an hour of gameplay would be HEAVILY unfair) A system like this would mean Steam watching for a trend of customers complaining that the refund window time frame was unfair and make a judgement call how to handle that. (Personally, if a developers lies about their product in such a way to betray their customer, they should lose their right to publish on Steam.) With social media as it is though, it would be ridiculously foolish to set customers up this way and expect to ever be trusted again anyway. It just takes one person to crack your lie and the rest of the world will know quick enough. Not worth lying.

This doesn't fix the assets thing. I don't think disallowing refunds on this sort of material is the right solution though. (How many times have I not bought a pack because I wasn't sure it was going to have what I actually needed? Lots. Especially stuff related to sound.) Esrever's suggestion sounds really hmmm.... complicated and largely not user friendly in the long run - products should be user friendly. Though - I'm still in the mindset that criminals will be criminals no matter what you do. Before refunds? One person buys the pack and then distributes it. There wasn't anything in place to combat that, was there? Again, all this does is open a tiny new window to thieves that probably already had their way of doing things already. They aren't really a lost sale; they were NEVER a sale in the first place; if they wanted to steal it that bad, they'd find another way - at least they can't return a pack that they stole from somewhere else! (because that WOULD result in a loss) I don't have any good solutions to combating immoral thieves - and I'm not sure there is one. If there was, then I wouldn't get an new email every day at work about a new scam, a new person to watch for. I wouldn't be handing people gift cards who I see everyday and KNOW for a fact that they are scamming us. It sucks, but all you can really do is add more loops for them to jump through and hope that they think it's too much effort to do it. (But again, then they'll just do it another way. So blah)

People keep mentioning that Steam does have something in place to track refunds, so I'm sure they would notice a trend like someone buying and returning a ton of resource packs and ban their refunds. (better yet would be if they recharged their account for the ones they already bought, but I don't think you can legally do that xD Not without actually involvement from a form of law enforcement.)

ULTIMATELY it's silly to try to find a solution before we actually have proof that the problem exists in the first place (Those earlier graphs were not proof) and we won't be able to have any solid evidence until the policy has existed for a bit longer.
 
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mlogan

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Trying out a game is good? Renters indeed. Your supposed to be buying the games. If I wanted to rent a game I would. The fact that the art pacts are being stolen is bad but since most ppl don't like rpg maker games I don't see it as a huge problem.
I'm curious. Can you define what you mean by a renter here?
 

Geoff Moore

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This notion that length and quality are directly related is really bugging me. Would you seriously rather waste 30 hours playing a dull game than play an incredible game, a lasting experience that you'll always remember, for an hour or two? It's pretty clear to me which offers better value for your money. The idea that developers should change the way they make games purely because of a refund policy is absurd to me. Art should not have to bend to policy.
 

Tuomo L

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This notion that length and quality are directly related is really bugging me. Would you seriously rather waste 30 hours playing a dull game than play an incredible game, a lasting experience that you'll always remember, for an hour or two? It's pretty clear to me which offers better value for your money. The idea that developers should change the way they make games purely because of a refund policy is absurd to me. Art should not have to bend to policy.
Why can't the memorable game be 30 hours? I don't get this whole "choose either" things, many great games are also long. I have played Payday 2 for over 331 and I've not gotten everything there is.
 

SomaelCK

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This notion that length and quality are directly related is really bugging me. Would you seriously rather waste 30 hours playing a dull game than play an incredible game, a lasting experience that you'll always remember, for an hour or two? It's pretty clear to me which offers better value for your money. The idea that developers should change the way they make games purely because of a refund policy is absurd to me. Art should not have to bend to policy.
Definitely!

Short and one-time experience games are unique from each other, unlike 20 hours long "Generic Warfare 11" with Generic stuff.
 

Makio-Kuta

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Why can't the memorable game be 30 hours? I don't get this whole "choose either" things, many great games are also long. I have played Payday 2 for over 331 and I've not gotten everything there is.
I don't think Mostly Useless was saying long games CAN'T be memorable. Just stating that forcing shorter games to be longer is silly and comparing the long, boring games to short, interesting games to back up that statement. Of course, there can be really dull short games and really awesome long games.

Length doesn't instantly equal quality is the point they were making.

(Gosh, Mostly Useless, do you have a nickname I can call you. I feel bad calling you that, because you are far from useless o3o~* )
 
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Tuomo L

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I don't think Mostly Useless was saying long games CAN'T be memorable. Just stating that forcing shorter games to be longer is silly and comparing the long, boring games to short, interesting games to back up that statement. Of course, there can be really dull short games and really awesome long games.

Length doesn't instantly equal quality is the point they were making.

(Gosh, Mostly Useless, do you have a nickname I can call you. I feel bad calling you that, because you are far from useless o3o~* )
Thing is, if the game says it's over 150 hours long and it bores you to death the entire time the player is playing, I doubt the player plays it longer than 2 hours and will ask for a refund then too.
 

Makio-Kuta

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Yes? That's one of the reasons the refund thing exists now. What does that have to do with devs still making their game the lengths they desire it to be? Or length≠quality? o3o You lost me there.
 

SomaelCK

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Thing is, if the game says it's over 150 hours long and it bores you to death the entire time the player is playing, I doubt the player plays it longer than 2 hours and will ask for a refund then too.
Thing is, 2 hours is not much for 150 hours long games, but it is the entire game for shorter games.

The current 2 hours test period allows players to fully consume the game and still have the claim to ask for refund. (This clearly open the window for Abuse)

Note that Steam DO NOT refund on consumed DLC and In-Game Purchases.



Why can't they protect the short games from being consumed and refund like they did with DLC and Add ons?

Also, Refund Policy is NOT a quality control tool. If Steam doesn't want to fill their store with Cash-Grab games to protect consumer, THEN they better fix the green-light. Weed out the badly made games. You don't need to open the door for certain genre of games to be abused to protect your customer. Take GOG for example. They handpick the games for their store. You see less crappy games on their store than on Steam.
 

Makio-Kuta

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Hmmm, but the NICE thing about having a system where it's not games that are just handpicked is that it gives the chance for unknowns with great games to have a place to put their stuff up. I mean, the bad stuff does come through as well, but as it was said in another thread here - that's a natural reaction to opening the gates to more people.

Anyway, I think a refund policy truly is a quality control tool.

Let's look at it in terms of physical merchandise, since that's where refunds have applied for a much MUCH longer time. A product is made, customers buy it, every single customer returns it for the same problem. This problem is reported to the manufacturer, either by the seller OR by the customers phoning customer report. The manufacturer sees this problem. If they are a legit company who has a standard that they wish to uphold, that either results in a recall, or discontinuing that product and coming out with a newer version. (I've directly seen this trend with Keurig (forget the reason - recalled, new product released), Goody hand mirrors (the glue that held the mirror on wasn't strong enough - recalled, new product released), Sunbeam Popcorn Makers (the clips that hold the lid on broke easily - discontinued model, new model released. A different Popcorn Maker (caught fire - recalled and discontinued. Don't think I've seen a unit from that brand since.))

Likewise, refunding trends help employees make suggestions. I work a refund desk and you can sure as heck guarantee that if I see a customer buying something that I know has a high rate of refund, I'll tell them "Just so you know, this model is one that we get refunded a lot for 'X' reason." or "That product has a history of doing [x] if you use it for [y], but most people agree it's great at [z]." This is something that tends to happen with lower end products from noname companies, because they don't have as high a chance of taking in that feedback and fixing the problems at hand. Again though, it's a trend in refunds acting as a form of quality control.
 
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Geoff Moore

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I don't think Mostly Useless was saying long games CAN'T be memorable. Just stating that forcing shorter games to be longer is silly and comparing the long, boring games to short, interesting games to back up that statement. Of course, there can be really dull short games and really awesome long games.

Length doesn't instantly equal quality is the point they were making.

(Gosh, Mostly Useless, do you have a nickname I can call you. I feel bad calling you that, because you are far from useless o3o~* )
Yep, that's exactly it. :) You can call me Geoff if you like, but the nickname was self-imposed so I won't be offended :D
 

amerk

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Expect you're the one who proposed the refunds from the movie in the first place, if they allow refunds and my reason was that the movie was one of the worst movies I've seen in years then I deserve my money back as a customer. If you are going to allow refunds, you cannot go cherry picking and singling out your customers who have valid and completely legimate reason to want a refund.

That's not abuse towards short games, having a refund system and then putting all these limitations because of lack of content from the game would be abuse towards your customers who had to pay for a game that's just barely longer than some demos.
You seem to forget that not everybody thinks like you do, or buys the same things for the same reasons. Plenty of people do enjoy short games just as much as a bad movie, plenty do enjoy the cinematic approach of such games, plenty of people feel the "crap" you seem to have a vendetta against and want back on mobile should belong on PC. Just because you may not like a type of genre doesn't mean it should be open to abuse. This is the opposite of "putting all these limitations" because there are no restrictions whatsoever, and the only way around it (for now) is to pad out a game longer than it should be or hope the person doesn't play it until after the 14 day limitation.

Back on topic:

Personally, I think lowering the play time to one hour and 7 days from purchase would do a heck of a lot to squash potential abuse, and then go from there. That said, Valve has something in place, and what we say won't matter so much as what occurs. Valve may very well decide to add restrictions as abuse comes up. It could very well be we're all just being a bunch of Negative Nancy Naysayers, and the end result proves to be much more valuable than we thought. I doubt Valve will throw every developer (AAA or Indie) under the bus because of refund abuse, or they'll wind up losing clients. Can you imagine Valve giving refunds for every sour customer who felt Final Fantasy XIII wasn't to their liking? Do you really think Valve would have obliged and risk offending one of their biggest clients?

I'm pretty certain they'll be taking these case by case, and then changing the rules as things develop.

Edit:

Why can't they protect the short games from being consumed and refund like they did with DLC and Add ons?
An interesting point. Maybe allow the developers the option to refund or not, but make it part of their contract to select this when they sign on with Valve, maybe even allow the developer to negotiate the refund terms for their game at the same time. Disclose everything to the consumer on the game page. That way, the consumer sees a game, knows whether a refund is viable or not, and the terms of a refund if it is available.

Games that do not include a refund option means the consumer has to do a bit more legwork before buying, and will have to weigh the risks to decide if it's worth buying. This allows a bit of control for both the consumer and the developer alike. For example, a game that chooses not to offer a refund helps the developer avoid potential abuse, but it could also mean risking sales from people who opt not to buy as a result. And allowing developers to decide on refund terms for their games allows them to find ways to protect against abuse in cases where the game may be relatively short.
 
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Musashi

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Can anybody name a good game with less than 2 hours of gameplay and no replay value? I mean, a game, not an animated story using game graphics or a "game" with the only mechanic being moving a character sometimes while watching a story - we really need to find another name for this kind of artistic product, because they aren't more games than they are movies. People trying to compare game's length to movie's length is the proof we are forgetting the difference. Anyway, people don't pay to go to the movies to watch a short film.
 

Galenmereth

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Can you imagine Valve giving refunds for every sour customer who felt Final Fantasy XIII wasn't to their liking? Do you really think Valve would have obliged and risk offending one of their biggest clients?
Why shouldn't they? If this was in place and the majority of buyers of FF13 felt that way, why shouldn't they give all of them a refund as per the rules? Differential treatment would be the absolute worst thing Valve could do here.
 

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