It’s not unusual to hear of a transaction on Steam that a customer had found to be disagreeable, only to be told by Steam Support (when they even answered) that it was too late, and that their digital purchase was non-refundable. The question is; how much will that change now that Steam has a shiny new Refund Policy?

On the 1st of May this year, I purchased a game called Phantasmal.” It sounded good on paper, and sure enough I decided to try this Early Access title out. Whilst what I could glean from the game was not bad by any measure, the technical difficulties were innumerable. CTD’s, Black Screens, freezing, shoddy framerates in nonsensical areas (such as sudden drops when standing still,) crashes when alt+tabbing, window mode refused to work whatsoever...

The game, whilst good in the imagination, did not translate well into an interactive product. A month gone and a few updates later and the game is still in a semi-unplayable state to me. I’ve tested various hardware and software configurations but it all seems to come down to the game itself.

Fast forward to the 1st of this month, and I purchase “Lego Worlds.” Another promising Early Access game that sounds incredible, but performs universally like trash. I first started playing it on an HD 7770 graphics card and couldn’t even hit 30 frames a second at minimum settings and a reduced resolution. Recently having upgraded to a sleek and sexy GTX 960 (an incredible mid-to-high range performer mind you,) I still find the game sputtering at around 14 - 30 fps depending on what’s happening on screen.

Here are the two scenarios:

Scenario 1

Purchase date of “Phantasmal” is outside of Steam’s new refund window. Attempting to refund based on the grounds that the game doesn’t perform adequately, Steam’s refund page states that “Refunds are not normally processed for transactions over 14 days old.” I have only played the game for a total of 59 minutes (most of which were spent on menus and settings), so I’m hoping that I have a little bit of leverage there.

I am still allowed to submit the refund request despite only meeting 1 of 2 requirements. I am told that I will be contacted via my registered email address when my refund has finished being considered.

Interesting to note is that, whilst researching how far back the lenient window of return could be, Brutal Legend is completely non-refundable. It was bought back in 2013 but is still under the 2 hour limit. I can’t submit a request at all.

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Scenario 2

Purchase date of Lego Worlds is well within the 14 day refund window. Refund is based on the fact that, like above, the game performance is sub-par based on the hardware that I’m currently using when compared to other games. I have only played the game for 80 minutes so I should get this refund with no questions asked.

Again, I’m told that the refund needs to be considered by a member of the support team, who will be in contact.

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What do I expect to get out of this?

I’m not entirely sure if my request for Phantasmal will be approved, as it is outside of the 14 day period but Steam definitely seem to be putting more of a focus on customer service. It could be that every now and then, as long as your account can be seen to be in good standing, you could be approved for a refund outside of the 14 day window. I don’t know what the deciding criteria is exactly, and whether or not my refund is necessarily fair.

On the other hand, I am expecting a refund from Lego Worlds purely for the fact that I meet the criteria. We’ll see.

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At the very least, I can hopefully shed some light on just how likely it is that you can receive a refund on that purchase you may not like all that much from last month.