Steam Finally Sets Up A Refund Policy… And It’s Terrible For Indie Games

It’s been a gripe about Steam for as long as the service has been raiding your wallet with quarterly sales; you buy it, it’s yours, no matter how much you hate it. Either because they’re sick of the whining or because they finally figured it out, Steam now issues refunds. One problem: It’s got a massive loophole that lets scumbags rip off indie developers.

Here’s the deal: If you buy a game and, for whatever reason, don’t like it, you can get a refund within two weeks of purchase, provided you’ve played the game for less than two hours. It’s quite a generous policy, which is kind of the whole issue.

There are plenty of games on Steam that don’t take two hours to play; for example, you can knock out an episode of a Telltale game in less than two hours, as a rule. Roundabout, a delightful puzzle game, has a story mode you can get through in less than two hours. And that’s not even getting into the smaller indies who put out really, really short, punchy games.

It also, of course, opens the door to trolling, which is a problem on Steam in the first place. If a coordinated campaign to buy a game at launch only to return it and crush the developer’s dreams and finances isn’t already in the works, it’s only a matter of time. Valve claims it will ban abusers… but that strikes me as a tricky line.

Valve will inevitably tighten the hours played, probably down to one. A refund policy is at least now in place, but it still seems likely that this policy will backfire sooner or later.

(Via VG 24/7)