Well that didn’t take long. The Epic Store return policy now matches that of Steam, because I guess they realized letting people return games 2 weeks after purchase without an hours limit means a LOT of ‘game finished’ returns that crush smaller studios. Or anyone that makes games which aren’t 60+ hours long.
I suspect the only reason Steam hasn’t matched Epic in developer compensation is because they don’t have to, at least not yet. If/when they do, that’s when you know the Epic Store has actually become a real competitor.
Returns policies are interesting. Obviously, “returning” a digital file has different implications to returning a physical object, but in the UK “buying” things, using them and returning them for a full refund has been part of the culture for decades. One particular clothing chain used to be famous for its no-questions asked returns policy, which allowed people to buy something on a Friday to wear to a party on a Saturday, then return it on a Monday. It was all but actively encouraged as a marketing device.
Where I work our returns policy has been 30 days, return in same condition, full refund for as long as I can remember. Over the last seven or eight years we’ve been given much wider leeway than that, with time limits extended well beyond the 30 days and no proof of purchase required if you take an exchange rather than a cash refund. It is entirely possible, not even remotely difficult or awkward, for a careful reader to read a book and return it looking as though it has not been read. We also sell (not many) DVDs and as far as I know there’s no requirement for them to be returned unopened. I often encourage customers to buy things they’re not sure about on the grounds that if they don’t like it they can return it, provided they haven’t damaged it.
There is, of course, the inconvenience of having to return to the store to bring the thing back. That probably puts people off bothering unless they’re coming in anyway. You wouldn’t have that concern with a digital file. Even so, I wonder how many people would actually bother. Inertia is a huge factor. Provided the digital return process was designed to be mildly time-consuming and slightly annoying I would guess most people would tend to avoid it unless they were really dissatisfied with the purchase.
Or maybe online gamers are inured to that kind of annoyance and also tend to be tight-fisted, penny-pinching scammers. Who can say?
The return process on Steam is super easy via the Help menu. Takes 30 seconds, so that’s not really a barrier like say walking into a store. Which makes sense in a way, Steam probably gains more from the user-friendly return process than it personally loses from returns. Devs might disagree, but I bet it works out as a net-positive for Valve.
Steam’s biggest problem isn’t competitors like the epic store, but rather big publishers pulling games off and offering them exclusively on their own platform. Video games are following the same path as the movies/TV in this regard.
Agree. And just like with TV, I expect this whole thing to come crashing down at some point as most people aren’t going to bother with 4-5 different sources of content, especially if there are subscription costs like TV has.