Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Steam Refund Policy of 2015 Is a Huge Blow To Smaller Indie Games

NOTE: I am writing this article mainly for developers who have already published their games on Steam and also for giving this little piece of information to all the indie developers who seems to be unhappy with the recent change in refund policy of Steam and it could be a huge blow to the game industry especially for smaller indie games and their developers.

Recently, I have noticed some developers who have recently released their games on Steam, the largest marketplace for AAA and Indie titles. But their recent refund policy are unacceptable by many developers who are scared of getting many refund requests than they used to get

The thing which the developers fear the most is that the gamers are free to purchase smaller indie titles and they can play them for 2 hours or less. If they are not satisfied or for ANY reason they can ask for refunds. They can ask for refund within the 2 weeks from the date of purchase. 

This system has made a way for the gamers to use it as a weapon. The gamers can purchase the game, play it for 2 hours and they will ask for refund. But the main problem is that most of the DRM -Free Indie games are shorter in length(approximately one hour). This system has caused a great problem for indie game developers especially who create small indie games and they are vulnerable to the scams. 

There is no doubt that the gamers can purchase the games and can download them to their hard drive. They can even copy the main game and paste it in their USB drive in no time. Finally, they can ask for refund. If it happens, they can easily get the Commercial games for free without spending money for it. 

From the gamer's point of view, this refunding policy is good and Steam should have a refund policy in case of wrong game purchase and accidental purchases. But from game developer's point of view, this has caused a big problem as they can be scammed easily. 
I have no idea how Steam can protect Small Developers from these scams but this is clear that it is unacceptable by larger groups of developers.

Many game developers and game reviewers have presented their own opinion regarding the Steam refund policy.

I have just found a post in reddit where this system is being abused. The players are very happy playing a game for 3 hours or 5 hours or even 100 hours and then they get a refund. How awful? If this continues then, no one is going to spend money on buying games rather they play the game for free. Click Here to see the reddit post

This same piece of information I wrote here is found in comments section: 
7th Comment:
"Its not the f*****g same. A digital copy can be copied against an unlimited amount of time with a marginal cost of 0 and can't be consumed or even deteriorate.
It would be more like eating a steak that always reverts to it's original state and can be duplicated for free any time."

[This is true that piracy of games can't be stopped if you even try to.]


RPS' John Walker(From RockPaperShotgun) said,
“Games that have opted not to use Steam’s DRM, which of course is usually perceived as a customer-friendly decision, can now be purchased, copied over into a different directory, and then a refund requested. With the new no-quibble policy, they’ll get their money back, and have a working copy of the game remaining on their hard drive. It is, essentially, the same shady antics that were possible when brick-n-shelving game stores would provide refunds on DRM-free boxed PC games. It was, in fact, a huge reason why boxed PC games had DRM.”

He also noted that Steam trading cards unlocked within the first couple hours of a game’s runtime can still be sold for profit, meaning that people could get both free games and (mostly) free money out of the deal.

It is clear that this new Refund Policy of Steam is going to hurt some small very personal Indie Game Developers who had worked so hard for years on making their games. This is a great problem for them which must be solved quickly. But I don't know whether the Steam cares for smaller games anyway. If they care about them a little, then, this problem can be solved. 

Note to Developers: I have presented here this important information to all of you to let you know about the problems arose due to the new refund policy of Steam. This is no way a criticism but a note to developers as they have worked hard on their games overnight and if they fall in such a trap then, it would be worse. This article contains the people's opinion regarding the system on Steam which I found to be discussed in forums and Game Developer's Communities.    


No comments:

Post a comment