Two week return policy for games is insanity

I’m on record here as being a big fan of Steam. It makes buying, updating, and playing games easy, and has enough social features to support that side of gaming as well. If anything, I wish they did more on the modding side, so a site like Mod Nexus wasn’t needed. Most of all, the best thing about Steam is that 99% of the time, it simply works. Steam is the Apple of PC gaming; might not always have the newest feature or the lowest cost, but paying the premium is worth it because you don’t waste time fighting against it like you would other options.

I bring this up because Epic Games is launching a Steam competitor (although it will only be that if it grows popular-enough to actually impact Steam), with the big selling point being a larger split of revenue for developers, more heavy-handed moderation of which games make it to the platform, and a two week return policy.

That last point, the return policy, will 100% change. Why? Because you can finish A LOT of games in two weeks, and that will be a disaster for the Epic Store. And when I say finish, I don’t necessarily mean fully beat and see the ending. I mean play enough to justify returning the game and not paying a dime for the two week experience. Morality aside, think about all of the games you have played recently, how many would you return after two weeks if given the option? I’d say at least half my Steam library qualifies, and almost all of those titles are non-AAA games from smaller studios.

So we will see how this goes. I personally hope it fails because, much like with Netflix now, the more platforms that pop up, the more annoying it becomes to actually track down what you want. Just keep everything on Steam, it’s fine.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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13 Responses to Two week return policy for games is insanity

  1. It is tough to go after an incumbent like Steam and all that it has built. So many users like you and I are already invested in Steam. But the revenue scheme, which goes after the devs rather than the end users, looks like one way to get there. Steam just got through telling people that if your game makes a lot of money, they might take only 20% of the price. (Peons still pay 30%, or maybe 25% if you are a standout.) And then Epic steps up and says it will be just 12% for everybody and you’ll get a pass on the licensing fees for UE4 as well. That sounds like shots fired. We’ll see if they can make it come to pass.

    • SynCaine says:

      Only way I can see it working, return policy aside, is if devs put their game on both Steam and Epic, and price it lower on Epic to encourage people to buy it there to get that higher return % (offset by the lower price of course).

      But even then, if a $30 Steam game is $25 on Epic, I’m buying it on Steam. If a decent but not must-have game is only on Epic, I’m not buying the game.

      • Kryss says:

        I know that i will not bother with store other than Steam, i had some games on Origin, and totaly forgot about them and bought the same titles on steam, i guess i wont even bother with “store exclusives”, you not on Steam – sorry you not exists for me.
        GOG recently got very harsh reality check then try to sell Thronebreaker as gog exclusive and GOG already established online store with good library.

        • SynCaine says:

          Yea, unless you are AAA and I’m aware of you for some reason (like with State of Decay 2, because I played the first on Steam), if you aren’t on Steam you might as well not exist.

  2. Jonneh says:

    I consider myself pretty average and it doesn’t tempt me at all. I find I don’t buy many AAA games anymore so it would need the same choice of indie developed games to get a look in. Even then, I’m not sure if I can be bothered with yet another online account to manage.

    Steam, amazon and netflix covers me for about 99% of my online activities now and I’m happy with that.

  3. Hmm, the two week thing might work if it uses a digital wallet that you can’t cash out. That way the platform retains your money, leaving the risk to the devs who are supposedly getting a better cut if the sale goes through. Obviously this would increase the onus on them to make better games too.

    But yes, some people will be scum – and shorter games might/will suffer to dishonorable exploiters.

    • SynCaine says:

      A game that you can beat in two weeks (lets call it 30 hours) isn’t by default a bad game, or one that can be made better by being 50+ hours long. Especially indie games that aren’t open-ended/sandbox are going to have a hard time packing in that much content. I think that’s who gets hurt the most by this, although I’d also buy/return a ton of AAA games from studios like EA/Ubi/Blizzard (lets assuming they all have games on the Epic store), in part because hurting those studios with returns doesn’t feel bad for me.

      • Then yes, they’ll definitely need to do what you said and change their terms. Maybe to something like “2 weeks refund no questions asked, -UNLESS- you’ve already played x hours of said game”. Say, 2 hours?

        Probably should know after 2 hours if the game is for you or not.

        • SynCaine says:

          If they do 2hrs, then that return policy is worse than Steam. Steam is unlimited time after purchase that a title can be returned, so long as you have fewer than 2hrs played.

  4. Bill Bones says:

    It might work if they log playtime and rule out returning games that have been played for longer than X hours. If Scumbag McWeasel has spent 40 hours playing a game it’s hard to pretend he didn’t like it…

    • SynCaine says:

      But that’s Steam’s return policy, with the 2hr limit. This is “no questions asked” two weeks. Now likely the change will be to set some hourly limit or something, but then my point here still stands that you can’t do two weeks without it being abused.

  5. Darkaine says:

    I can’t imagine two weeks working at all unless they only allow it if you haven’t played X hours or beaten the game.

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