Steam Is Offering Refunds For From Dust

By John Walker on August 24th, 2011 at 10:53 am.

Scenes inside the hearts of players.

With peculiar timing, Valve seem to finally be offering refunds on From Dust. Customers who bought the game under the belief its DRM required a one-time only activation angrily responded to the revelations (as brought to the world by the fine eyebrows of RPS) that the game required a connection for every launch. Demands for refunds were being met with stony silences in every direction, with Ubisoft pointing customers to the retailers. And while there were rumours of Steam giving some money back, most were being met by their questionable stance that they don’t offer refunds for anything. Well, despite the recent announcement that the DRM would soon be patched out, that seems to be changing, as it appears (from the text of Valve’s emails) Ubisoft have specifically asked Valve to return the cash. (Let’s put in a disclaimer here – this is based on reports from a couple of readers, and Valve are notoriously fickle in these regards.)

A couple of readers have contacted us to say that they’ve been receiving emails (sometimes multiple times!) from Steam explaining that there is a patch coming, but if they still want their money back they can have it. It reads,

“Ubisoft has just announced that they are working on a patch that will eliminate the need for any online authentication for From Dust. The patch will release in approximately two weeks.

If you don’t want to wait for the patch or if you haven’t played the game, per Ubisoft’s request, we will issue refunds for this title.

If you would still like your purchase of From Dust refunded, please reply to this ticket.”

I’m not sure what “or if you haven’t played the game” means. The use of “or” suggests that not having played isn’t a requirement (and many will have only discovered the surprise DRM by playing it), but it’s still a touch ambiguous.

This also seems like an opportunity to get your money back if you believe the game falls horribly short of the PC conversion it deserved. I’m really hopeful that the reaction this has generated, and the unquestionably bad publicity it has brought upon Ubisoft, will lead to a change of their behaviour toward the PC and PC customers. They’re putting out a ton of good games at the moment, and we want nothing more than to be championing them for this. If they can start treating customers with dignity, what a splendid day it will be.

Big thanks to Sean and Dan for getting in touch.

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60 Comments »

  1. DrugCrazed says:

    It’s horrible controls, but I don’t think I’ll be asking for a refund. With the patch, I have no quarrel with them.

    • by.a.teammate says:

      god the controls, i just hate the controls

    • willfarb says:

      I would really like to return it, based on principle; but I have already completed (and enjoyed!) the game, so I do not feel that would be right of me.

      Despite enjoying the game very much; I am still greatly upset about this silly DRM thing, and I feel my enjoyment was impacted by the GODAWFUL controls and general shoddiness of the port.

    • AshEnke says:

      I actually can forgive the controls. Whenever I see RPS begging for a traditional RTS-style mouse control, where the cursor and the camera are indepedent, I try to imagine what it would mean in term of design and immersion.

      On a forum I’m visiting, one of the game developper is fairly active and talks about the game (from both a gamer and a game-developer stand), and explained some of the reasons strange design like this one were added into the game.

      The decision to use this kind of controls came from an art designer and not a game designer : the objective was not to be some kind of abstract god like the ones who control traditional rts units, but to be the black & white kind of god that you embody and control. By focusing the view on the Breath, their aim was to make you be the Breath in the same way that in B&W you are a hand.

      So it’s really really not perfect when playing with a mouse, but I don’t think it’s due to the controls being quickly and badly ported from the console, I think it’s just the game, in its core design, that is hard to control with the mouse. They can try to tweak it, but they can’t change it without removing a core design decision which may have been a bad one for the gameplay, but which is important for the athmosphere and ambiance of the game.

      (By the way in the (horrible) control options, you can uncheck something called “Center View on Breath” or something like that. It’s still far from perfect, but a little better anyway)

    • coledognz says:

      The fact that the mouse control is of an RTS nature is fine, it’s the fact that the mouse scrolls the screen before reaching the border. It’s as if there’s a 200px margin around the screen (more so on the horizontal sides). This aggravated me the most and I couldn’t even play it for long lengths, leading to eventually just stopping all together.

    • MrMud says:

      @AshEnke
      No, its just bad controls.
      If your design means the controls have to be terrible then the design is terrible.

      I dont really care about the DRM, this is whats causing me not to play the game.

    • AshEnke says:

      All I’m saying is, you won’t get a patch with other controls.

      Black & White had terrible controls and I enjoyed it very much.
      From Dust has terrible controls and I enjoy it very much.

      There might be a patch with graphical options, and even a sandbox though.

    • futage says:

      If you turn off “mouse scrolling” in the controls menu it’s fine. Not great, I really longed for a B&W style thing where I could grab the land and pull myself along or double click to whoosh over to somewhere. But fine.

    • Ghil says:

      The DRM is the main issue which makes me ask for a refund, but conveniently, I played and really didn’t like the buggy mess the game is in. and for a “god game”, the limits are so clear and painful it is horrible to play. The concept was so interesting, it’s a shame the game turned out the way it did.

    • Fiatil says:

      I don’t really see how the devs wanting you to be godlike in a Black and White fashion has to do with the bad controls; Black and White didn’t control terribly differently from an RTS, I would be just fine with a hand style control that lets you move it independently of the camera as well as using it to move the camera such as in B&W,

    • kjolnir says:

      Got my refund today, and put the money towards Deus Ex.

    • dudeforlulz says:

      i would like a refund im quite annoyed with the gameplay and controls. I see no reason not to ask for 1 its to laggy i haven’t really played the game due to this.

  2. Jumwa says:

    I very much doubt anything good will come of this beyond the much needed refund offer. In fact, launching games with horrible DRM then later removing it seems to be “their thing”.

    Sounds to me from how things have gone down they believe their only mistake was lying to customers outright and not treating them like criminals.

    • Pinkables says:

      I don’t know, i think someone is probably having to do a lot of explaining to their shareholders right now. I don’t think i’ve even heard of anyone getting a refund for a PC game before. This is kind of a big deal from a business perspective.

    • Jumwa says:

      I imagine the shareholder meeting would go something like this:

      Frantic Ubisoft representative raises his hands in a calming gesture, “Let’s all remain calm, people! Don’t worry. Don’t worry! This is no way harms us in the long term, our anti-piracy measures are still in place, your investments are safe!” Sighs of relief are heard all throughout the room, “And in the long run this will probably turn out to be a positive, as people see this as a noble and unheard of gesture on our parts.” Knowing nods from the crowd.

    • Pinkables says:

      I really wish that wasn’t such a convincing argument.

    • gou says:

      or maybe “40% of our customers accidentally bought the PC version, we’ll just give them their money back and they can try again”

  3. Prime says:

    “If they can start treating customers with dignity, what a splendid day it will be.”

    That’s really all we want. It shouldn’t be too much to ask, not even in this day and age.

  4. Symitri says:

    It’s strange, I got this e-mail today after getting a e-mail last week rejecting my claim. I guess they went over them again! Lovely customer support :D

  5. Premium User Badge

    Malibu Stacey says:

    I haven’t bought the game as I don’t give in to pre-release hype but are they giving actual refunds or just putting the cash into your Steam wallet? I asked for Bioshock 2 to be refunded after I purchased it in a sale a few months ago without realising it required GFWL. They were happy enough to refund me but only to my Steam Wallet (which was fine as I spent it during the summer sale on copies of Terraria anyway).

    Personally I couldn’t care less about the DRM if the PC porting is so horrendous. Although if they’re patching the DRM out soon there is hope of it being patched to be less horrendous. Annoying as I quite like the look of this game but I’m not buying it on the strength of the impressions John Walker & others posted last week.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      In your case of Bioshock they were well within their rights to give store credit as it was clearly stated that it needed GfWL (though possibly it should have been clearer). In this case, as you could argue that the game was not fit for purpose a cash refund is their only option I would think.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      “Not fit for purpose” would be very hard to argue. “Not as described” is more appropriate.

    • johnpeat says:

      “Not as Described” would mean that it differed from what the RETAILER told you about it – that’s nothing to do with anything Ubisoft have said on their forums or anything like that, it purely applies to what Steam said when you bought it.

      Consumer Law and software do not get on well tho – and certainly the person who suggested they were entitled to a refund on the basis of bad controls is a dreamer who has NOTHING in his favour, legally speaking…

  6. Premium User Badge

    thekeats1999 says:

    Managed to get a refund last weekend loaded to my steam wallet. That was the only option available to me.

    Promptly pre-ordered Clash of Heroes, completely forgetting that it is another ubi game.

    I can think of a couple of names for that level of stupidity…

    • Premium User Badge

      alexheretic says:

      Don’t be too hard on yourself, keeping track of games that impose ridiculously draconian requirements upon us poor users is hard work. Do what I do, keep your eyes open and, of course, maintain a constant internet connection.

    • johnpeat says:

      Could be worse – I can see the wonder that is “Rock of Ages” but it’s being published by Atlus who I’d really rather not support given that they still ask for money for Droplitz but refuse to support it and it no-longer works on ATI graphics cards for some reason (quite possibly AMD/ATIs fault but Atlus’s “we don’t support this anymore attitude” stinks when they still CHARGE for it).

    • diamondmx says:

      Valve will allow you to cancel pre-orders, by the way. So long as you do it before the game is released.

  7. AIEmpire says:

    My refund request didn’t get accepted? This was a good few days ago mind you. Would it be worth asking again?

  8. d3vilsadvocate says:

    My refund was denied a few days ago. Will give this another try, I expect the same treatment for everyone.

    I hope to get refunded just to make a point.

    • Kadayi says:

      A point on what exactly and to whom? They are patching the DRM anyhows? Surely you originally bought the game with the intention of playing it no? So why now continue to ask for a refund when they are addressing the problem? I’m curious as to the mindset here? What changed exactly?

    • sd4f says:

      I suppose the point is that they sold him something which he disagreed with, so he wants his money back, in full light of the situation, they would have never got his money!

      If i bought the game i would have done the same, but i don’t like buying single player games that need to be tethered to an account in the first place, so i buy very few games through steam, actually i buy very few games now at all, since so many have DRM which i disagree with.

    • Kadayi says:

      @sd4f

      But if they are fixing it what’s the problem exactly? It’s not like the game somehow isn’t going to be the same? It’s still the same game? What point is being made?

  9. Premium User Badge

    FunkyB says:

    I always wondered how Steam get away with refusing to offer refunds at all, when we have clear Distance Selling Regulations in this country stating that they have to. Do they have a special exemption or something?

    • d3vilsadvocate says:

      no, but noone ever sues them over 10-60 dollars

      come to think of it, much of what is written in the Steam user agreement wouldn’t even be valid in my country. As a consumer, my law would be applicable in my opinion. Should I sue them over petty issues in my own country? The likelihood of that being successful is almost zero.

    • Premium User Badge

      TeraTelnet says:

      Actually, it might well be successful as they may not even bother entering a defence. Whether they have any assets in your country that could be affected (via their credit rating, most likely) is another matter.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I think it’s probably to avoid scams such as

      1) steal someone’s credit card info, or game activation key, or Steam ID

      2) Buy/activate/”gift” games on Steam.

      3) demand money back

      4) profit

      There have been instances of Valve allowing refunds before, but scammers are all over the internet and relentless, so caution whenever money is involved is a good thing.

    • johnpeat says:

      I covered this in the other thread – the UK Distance Selling Regulations would see DD software as a ‘service’ and not a ‘product’ (as nothing is physically shipped) and that means that the DSR ceases to apply when the ‘service’ commences.

      Commencement for a utility product or a Gym membership obviously has a starting date or obvious ‘first use’ event (and thus you can cancel it until that happens) – but it’s hard to know when the ‘service’ of a DD game starts.

      The DSR does cover things like ringtones which are very similar in concept and it seems to suggest that receipt of the ringtone is consider ‘commencement of service’.

      There’s a gotcha tho – people who provide ‘services’ must make it CLEAR that your right to cancel ends when the ‘service’ commences – and I cannot find anything in the Steam terms which would cover that. If they don’t mention this – you can use that very fact as a reason for demanding a refund.

      p.s. I suspect Steam’s change-of-mind here has probably been prompted by someone pointing out something like this – so expect changes to their Terms ASAP!

    • d3vilsadvocate says:

      I don’t think that steam or even Ubi have any assets in my country.
      I could probably ask for a “refund” of my credit card company. They have been very helpful in the past.
      But steam would probably block my account over this, and that’s where the main problem is at in my opinion.

      I like steam, but in the old days you’d just buy a game in a store and that was it. Nowadays, when you complain about something and threaten to take legal steps you risk that your access to your accounts are blocked. That sort of dependency we have in the gaming business these days basically deprives you of your means to fight. As a customer, you’re forced to accept pretty much anything.

      Hell, I’m not even able to buy my games on intkeys because it goes against the steam user agreement. Moreover, the latvian version of Deus Ex HR sold on intkeys is region locked so that you wouldn’t be able to activate it outside of Latvia…

  10. Arona Daal says:

    Next time,in big red letters,under system requirements of the steampage:

    NEEDS PERMANENT ONLINE CONNECTION DURING PLAY!

    But then,why provide Information which could lower Sales?

    • Bilbo says:

      To avoid a consumer backlash which may impact on sales of future products and to minimize refund payments on the product in hand. Next question

  11. mindlessrant says:

    I simply dont pre-order any games unless they are developed by Valve. A lesson learned over many, many years.

  12. MadTinkerer says:

    “’m not sure what “or if you haven’t played the game” means. The use of “or” suggests that not having played isn’t a requirement (and many will have only discovered the surprise DRM by playing it), but it’s still a touch ambiguous.”

    I would guess it means something like this:

    1) If you haven’t played it yet, and do want to wait for the patch, then you won’t run into the DRM issue, so you probably don’t want your money back.

    2a) If you haven’t played it yet, and don’t want to because of the DRM issue, you might want to wait for the patch. (Note that after installation, you currently need to sign up for UPlay before you can activate the game. So some may have installed but refused to activate it.)

    2b) Or maybe you just want your money back instead.

    3) Or maybe you have played it and you want your money back because of issues you’ve encountered directly.

  13. Premium User Badge

    egg says:

    Just checked my Steam Support profile and saw about 10 replies with the same message you guys posted above.

    Since I haven’t touched the game (just installed it, but didn’t ever open it!) ever since I found out about this DRM thingie, I am feeling pretty relieved that people changed their minds. Phew!

    Hooray for that. I hope Ubi starts being a bit more humble and open now.

  14. Zanchito says:

    Steam: well done, that’s how you treat customers.
    UBI: For shame. The patch is appretiated, but the damage is already done. Pity, the game is pretty neat (if more of a puzzler than a full fledged god simulator. We need another Populous!)

  15. panzer1990 says:

    I dident read through the comments but my Steam support ticket said this
    “Ubisoft has just announced that they are working on a patch that will eliminate the need for any online authentication for From Dust. The patch will release in approximately two weeks.

    If you don’t want to wait for the patch or if you haven’t played the game, per Ubisoft’s request, we will issue refunds for this title.

    If you would still like your purchase of From Dust refunded, please reply to this ticket. ”

    *just noticed it was posted in the article lol* *failure*

  16. Premium User Badge

    Rinox says:

    Isn’t this kind of thing a big pain in the ass for Valve too? I mean, Ubisoft presumably didn’t just lie to its customers, but to Valve as well. I can’t imagine they’re happy with having go through this either.

  17. MythArcana says:

    Ubisoft & v@|V3…all that is wrong with gaming today.

    • Renfield says:

      Could you be more disingenuous if you tried? People felt they were misled, the publisher asked the distributor to issue refunds, refunds were issued.

      What on earth is ‘wrong’ with this? I’d say it’s as it should be.

    • Premium User Badge

      thristhart says:

      why do you do that to the name Valve? it is harder to type and doesn’t change anything except making you look silly.

      why?

      also what Renfield said

  18. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    Probably not going to go in for the refund now that they’re patching it up. I’d love for that patch to have something more than removing the DRM though.

  19. theloz says:

    Humble Pie, Ubisoft. Choke it down!

  20. Sgt_Peanuts says:

    how do i get that refund

  21. joske653 says:

    i want a refund cause mij exe is broke and when i reinstal its the same problem

  22. enSparqe says:

    I asked Steam for a refund and got this in response:

    “If you have not played the game and don’t want to wait for the patch, per Ubisoft’s request, we can issue you store credit for the amount of your purchase into your Steam Wallet.”

    - which clearly conflicts with messages already posted on the Steam forum where people seem to be getting their money back. I’m as annoyed with Ubisoft for lying about the DRM as I am with Steam for passing it on to me without warning, do they even look at what they’re shovelling out?

    EDIT: and as I’ve said on the Steam forum, I saw the news break about the DRM switcheroo the same day my game was unlocked – I can’t cancel a preorder for not being what I ordered when I don’t yet know it isn’t what I ordered – I’m not precognitive!

  23. yoger says:

    i have tried to play the game but it fails to load every time i would like to get my money back

    steam money is fine with me i will just end up spending it there any way

    my brother is the one i give my money to that way he can put it in his pay pal i do not have a pay pal would i have to do the refund or would he

  24. maxbee says:

    i would like a refund havent played it atall
    steam wallet would be prefaired

  25. waok says:

    What a joke this is. I opened From Dust and was forced to register the game, so I did this then realized that I had an active connection while playing. I closed the game down and went about my day leaving my computer on as my roommate was using it. When I got home I relieved the login screen for From Dust was open in the background and that Steam had logged over 12 hours of game play when I had only played for 2 Minutes. I received this from Steam
    “Hello,

    A staff member has replied to your question:

    Hello @#$%,( Blocked out name)

    Thank you for contacting Steam Support.

    We did not send out an email in regards to refunding the game.

    Unfortunately, due to the excessive amount of playtime, we will be unable to offer a refund.

    Anytime you wish you can view your question online:”

    This is after I received an E-mail from Ubisoft authorizing a refund and being directed back to Steam. I e-mailed Ubisoft back with the details from steam and they agreed that I should recieve a refund, but also mentioned that I is entirely up to Steam.

    Poor Ubisoft: Just lost another customer!

    **The fact is, If you have even opened the game, Steam will deny a refund; funny that you have to open the game in order to know that it requires a connection!!
    Should that not have been explained on the Sales page before you decide to buy the game?
    Does this not fall under false Advertisement?
    Kind of feels a little like a Scam to me!!!

  26. freshkosose says:

    I can honestly cay that this is the worst written article/worst writing I have seen in a long time. It’s too bad that these days one can call themselves a writer if they have a keyboard, a website, and an opinion.

    • AnotherPasseby says:

      I can honestly cay that this is the worst written reply/worst writing I have seen in a long time. It’s too bad that these days everyone thinks they can do a better job if they have a keyboard, a website, and an opinion.

  27. edmomaticpulse says:

    My DRM didn’t even work at all so i would like a refund (didn’t even get to play it)