Developers hit by Steam refund spike

Ben Parfitt
Developers hit by Steam refund spike

Steam's new refund policy is hitting some developers hard.

Destructoid reports that Ball King and Bike Baron creator Qwiboo has struggled with its latest release, Beyond Gravity. Of the 18 copies sold in the last three days, 13 have been refunded – that's 72 per cent. Prior to the policy change the refund rate was said to be minimal”.

Beyond Gravity, it should be noted, can be completed in around an hour, meaning that players are free to experience it in its entirety and still request a refund according to the new T&Cs.

PCGamesN reports that Revenge of the Titans developer Puppygames, meanwhile, has seen its game endure a 55 per cent refund rate. Prior to this it has directly processed only five refunds in the previous ten years.

It's a similar story for RPG Tycoon developer Skatanic Studios. On May the game was refunded once. The first week of June, meanwhile, has seen 20 refunds from only 60 units sold.

Octodad developer Kevin Geisler said in a piece on Gamasutra that while Steam's new Refund policy is a positive change”, his game has also been hit – since June 2nd, 30 per cent of Octodad purchases have been refunded.

However, his data also suggests that the successfully refunded purchases were made between two and five months ago, which is well beyond Valve's advertised two-week window.

As to why people are refunding the game, that's unknown,” Geisler said. We can speculate that it's mostly people who impulse bought it on sale, either didn't play it or played it a bit and didn't enjoy it, and discovered now that they can refund the game more easily.

Purchases made in the last six months do show up in a list when applying for a refund, so they may as well try. It's also possible that these are people who bought the game in order to resell as a gift.”

The fear of which, of course, is that indies will have to default to DRM to try and fend off the fear that gamers are buying a game, copying it and then claiming their money back.

Now I kind of want to add DRM to the game so that you can't play it because you've actively revoked your rights to it,” Skatanic's Matt Gambell said. But doing that is against everything I believe in and is totally unfair for those that have paid for it and have paid for it to be DRM free.”

That's a position mirrored by Democracy creator Cliff Harris, who said: Bloody hell steam refund rate has gone from 0.09 per cent to 17 per cent. Methinks people are taking the piss. Here comes DRM again sadly.”

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