In June of 2015, Valve created a stir in the gaming industry by announcing that they were implementing a refund process for games bought on Steam. It was a huge step forward for the digital storefront, as refunds are a normal occurrence when purchasing physical goods. The announcement wasn’t without some controversy, though, as Steam has plenty of short games that can be completed before the 2-hour automatic refund period would be over, and the system could be abused by users.
Dan Marshall, the indie developer behind games such as The Swindle and Time Gentleman, Please!, recently found out that a game refund can actually cost the developer money. He shared this discovery on Twitter:
“We sold one copy of your game this month, but because of [Market Forces] you owe us 38p.”
— Dan Marshall (@danthat) April 18, 2016
The value of the Euro fluctuating between the time a game is purchased and when a user requests a refund really isn’t something storefronts can account for. It likely won’t occur too often, but it’s pretty surprising to receive a charge for a game refund.
We reached out to Dan to get his overall reaction to the negative invoice, and he seemed more amused than bothered by the tiny charge. “My reaction was one of mild incredulity,” said Marshall. “[I sent out] a tweet, and then I immediately forgot about it.”
It’s worth noting that Steam isn’t the only service that offers digital refunds, though, as GOG.com and other competitors also offer compensation for when games don’t work on a buyer’s PC. As such, Marshall confirmed to VP Daily that it wasn’t a Steam refund that caused the negative invoice.
Despite the recent unexpected result from a refund, Marshall is still bullish on refunds for digital games. “Refunds in general, I’m all for,” he told VP Daily. “As a dev it’s awful having to account for the infinite combination of PC hardware out there, and so it’s nice after a week of tech-support back-and-forth with no luck to just be able to offer a customer a refund. People can get refunds on any other goods they buy, and I don’t particularly see why video games should be any different.”
Marshall’s Size Five Games most recently released The Swindle last year. The stealth roguelike had a positive reception upon release, and is available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Vita, PS3, and Wii U.