While the dust has largely settled regarding the disagreements over Steam’s refund policies, the extent of their impact has been illustrated by Garry Newman.
The developer has revealed that his sometimes controversial survival sandbox Rust has revealed that the game has in total been refunded 329,970 times, which in total equates to lost revenues totalling $4,382,032.
The most commonly cited reason for the refund request,Newman subsequently toldPCGamesN, is that the game is not fun”, although how true this is of users’ feelings cannot be known – a lot of the time people just click on anything on the online form to get the refund processed.
Newman also acknowledged that Rust has a fairly steep learning curve, so finding it not fun” early on is understandable really”.
He added: I put that down to people using the refund system as a demo. I think in the long run, people knowing the refund system is there probably gained us more sales than it lost us.”
Steam’s fund system was implemented back in 2015. At the time many big indie developers, including Thomas Was Alone’s Mike Bithell and Nuclear Throne’s Rami Ismail, backed the new scheme due to its bolstering of consumer confidence. Others – including Brianna Wu – asked whether it puts smaller games in a more perilous position.
The fear was that those who buy smaller games such as Proteus, Gone Home or The Stanley Parable will buy the title, experience most of what is on offer and then claim their money back.
Rust itself has not been shy of controversy.
In 2015 the game was changed to randomise a player’s character at the point of creation. This included the skin tone which, once selected for a player, could not be changed.
"We wanted a way to recognise people beyond their names, kind of a fingerprint," Newman said. "We already kind of have this; players recognise each other via their voice, and that’s pretty interesting. So we wanted to push it further.
"There’s a lot of skin colours in the world, and it’s really easy to appear racially insensitive when doing this. This is compounded by the fact that everyone is really used to seeing this guy as a white guy, so when you see him as a black guy it feels like he’s just ‘blacked up.’ So we’re spending a lot of time trying to lessen that effect."
We understand this is a sore subject for a lot of people. We understand that you may now be a gender that you don’t identify with in real-life. We understand this causes you distress and makes you not want to play the game anymore,” Newman said.
Technically nothing has changed, since half the population was already living with those feelings. The only difference is that whether you feel like this is now decided by your SteamID instead of your real life gender.”
This very much echoed his statements from the previous year when he revealed plans for the feature: We’re not ‘taking the choice away’ from you. You never had a choice. A man’s voice coming out of a woman’s body is no more weird than an eight year-old boy’s voice coming out of a man’s body.”