Are You Watching, Valve? – GOG’s Money Back Guarantee

By Nathan Grayson on December 10th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

*Shwing! Sparkle, sparkle*

Back in my day, getting a refund was as easy as strolling down to the local barbershop and pointing out that your trusty neighborhood mane groomer lopped off your ear instead of your hair. He/she would hand you your money, you’d hop in an ambulance, and everything would be squaresies. But times have changed. The Internet has made many of the goods and services we sacrifice our hard-earned paychecks to much less, er, tangible, and some of them can’t even properly be returned. Refunds, then, are tricky business. Steam, for instance, has pretty much just blanket-stated, “NO,” except in special, infrequent cases. GOG, however, is taking a firm stance in the opposite direction.

Here’s the full policy, straight from GOG. It comes in two flavors: 1) In the event that a game simply won’t function as advertised and 2) if you change your mind about a purchase.

“Game doesn’t work for you? Contact our support (http://www.gog.com/support) and tell us to fix it! But what if they cannot find a solution? If such a rare event should occur, we’ll give you your money back. Simple as that. If you buy a game on GOG.com and find that it doesn’t work properly on your system, and our support cannot fix the problem, you get a full refund. It’s a worldwide guarantee, and you have whole 30 days after the purchase date, to contact us about the refund.”

“There’s even more! If you bought a game by mistake, or simply changed your mind about a purchase, you can get a full refund within 14 days, as long as the game wasn’t downloaded.”

The 30-day guarantee applies to “technical problems or game-breaking bugs that prevent you from finishing your game,” so there are still some questions surrounding relative severity. What if, for instance, a glitch is game-breaking in my book, but not by GOG’s standards? Will I still get a refund? Or will GOG just tell me to glue my ear back on and deal with it?

Given, however, that GOG is DRM-free, many aspects of this program will run on the honor system. You could, for instance, simply claim your game continues to crash and burn even when it’s purring like a kitten strapped to a motorboat that happens to be directly in the crosshairs of a purrrfect sunbeam. You could claim exactly that – using those words – and no one would ever take you seriously again. But also, GOG would probably, in the end, give you your money back. However, it’s also well aware that abuse can and will happen, and it’s addressed that in an FAQ:

“If you’re being a bad person who’s abusing our trust of you and asking for a whole lot of your games to be refunded and we can’t resolve your problems, we’ll have to stop offering you refunds. So don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.”

There’s no hard number on that darker side of the policy, but if it seems like you’re taking advantage of GOG’s kindness, the company will notify you directly.

All in all, it sounds like a step up from most digital storefronts’ return policies, especially given some older games’ propensities to stick their tongues out at newer hardware like children (or, I suppose more fittingly in this overwrought simile, extremely elderly individuals) who refuse to slurp down their mashed vegetables. It’ll be interesting to see how customers interact with the service and – in turn – how GOG chooses to shape it further down the line.

I hope other e-tailers – especially Steam – are watching. Earlier this year, Origin instated its own less restrictive (but also less helpful) 24-hour return policy, but otherwise this subject hasn’t been broached very much in the Big Leagues. That’s not to say Steam has never offered refunds (see: Dark Matter, Ashes Cricket 2013, The War Z, etc), but that’s the exception, not the rule. This needs to change now more than ever. Steam is exceedingly forward-thinking in many other areas, but its priorities are rather questionable sometimes (see also: fixing its long-troublesome offline mode).

For now, though, props to GOG for taking a big step in the right direction. Here’s hoping others follow suit sooner rather than later.

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112 Comments »

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  1. SkittleDiddler says:

    Money-backs are going to be a digital retail standard in a couple years, so Valve and Ubisoft and the rest of the opposition would be wise to make the change now before they’re forced into it by some regulatory body.

    Good on GOG for recognizing the necessity for this kind of thing.

    • Baines says:

      Money backs on physical goods are fairly restrictive in the US in part because people abused them. Games and movies are particularly restrictive, such as only being able to return an unopened copy or to return for another copy of the same title. (That has hurt me in the past with DVDs, because some cheaper DVDs have compression that artifacts nastily or even makes the disc unplayable on entire lines of DVD players.)

      Physical video game stores, before Gamestop swallowed everything, used to have simple game return policies. There were people who abused those policies heavily. In the Playstation era, people would openly brag about getting all their games for “free”, because they’d get a title, make a copy, then return the game in order to get a different game. Or they”d simply play the title for a week, beat it, and return it. When a store would make its return policy more restrictive, all the abusers would simply move their practices to competing stores. (People would brag about it right outside the store, and some would even mock the customers who weren’t exploiting the return policy.) The competing stores would eventually change their own policies to match, because the goodwill of maintaining a less restrictive return policy didn’t match the hassles that it brought.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        I’m well aware of how goodwill programs can be abused by unscrupulous consumers, but they are still a necessity in this day and age. Video game companies in particular are all too eager to rip off their customers when they can get away with it, and middle-man retailers like Valve are happy enough to go along with it as long as they get their cut.

        Having some protection, no matter how prone to abuse it may be, is better than having none at all. Properly maintained systems can benefit both company and consumer.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        Remember that DVD and CD are trademarked standards, so check for the logos when buying both disks and players.

        • Baines says:

          There are standards, but in reality not all discs are compatible with all players, at least not in a fully functional form. This is also true with Bluray, but Bluray players are more likely to allow firmware upgrades that can fix issues. (I had to download a firmware upgrade for my mother’s BD player, offered when Disney released a movie that did not play on the player.)

          Both cheaper, high compression releases as well as discs with new, complicated copyprotection systems can be marked as meeting standards, but still fail to play on some older players that themselves are marked as meeting standards.

          Of course that doesn’t even get into discs that technically play on a machine, but have compression so high and/or poor that the video is simply terribly artifacted. I’ve a couple of collections where it looks like the companies took the compressed video from the original DVD releases and re-compressed that instead of going back to a master copy, resulting in one DVD collection that has video of around VHS quality and another that has video of around an nth-generation copy of a VHS tape. (Seriously, I have copies of copies of copies of fansub anime that are more watchable than the first disc of that collection. The company releasing it butchered the video quality.)

  2. Low Life says:

    “What if, for instance, a glitch is game-breaking in my book, but not by GOG’s standards?”
    I don’t think “game-breaking bugs that prevent you from finishing your game” leaves much room to interpretation.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Hmm. Is Boiling Point on GOG?

    • Grygus says:

      But what if it only prevents you from getting one particular ending of a game with multiple endings? Skyrim has/had bugs that prevented one from completing one major quest line (but not the main story); does that count? What about broken achievements (so that a game cannot be completed 100%)? I don’t think it’s as black-and-white as it may first appear.

      • Hahaha says:

        “broken achievements” are game breaking for sure.

      • Ich Will says:

        Do we seriously care that much about achievements that to not be able to have them is “game breaking”? That seems sad to me, especially when games like asscreed give them out for feats of endurance in bland grindy flag collection.

        To answer your question, I expect a partial refund would be the order of the day – you had been entertained for many, many hours and played for a long time before the glitch occurred. This refund is more aimed at those who can’t get any entertainment from their game, as in, it doesn’t work at all. I wouldn’t expect GOG to provide a system to claim a partial refund on something so obviously subjective.

        • Premium User Badge

          puppybeard says:

          A retailer won’t accept less than 100% payment, so why should a customer have to accept 99% of a game?

          • Ich Will says:

            Hence “partial refund”.

            Do I need to explain to you why it would be impractical to put an automated or semi-automated process into place to deal with this?

          • DuneTiger says:

            What if you buy the game at a 75% discount? Should you then only expect 25% of a game?

      • Bull0 says:

        Those all sound sufficiently game-breaking to me to warrant a refund, or at the very least, some other gesture of conciliation such as some DLC or a voucher for x% off something else, or another game, or any combination of those based on the severity of the issues experienced. A bit like when EA gave everyone unfortunate enough to have bought The Sims a free game. Yay!

        As has been stated elsewhere, by not offering returns, I’m pretty sure services like Steam are on the wrong end of EU consumer rights legislation and will have to change eventually.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        I would think the: “If you’re being a bad person who’s abusing our trust of you and asking for a whole lot of your games to be refunded and we can’t resolve your problems, we’ll have to stop offering you refunds. So don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.” clause would come into play.

        This is a trust based system and there is an expectation of reasonableness on both parties. If you’ve completed the main game and 90% of the side quests, but there is one thread that doesn’t work – do you really think you’d be entitled to a full refund? Is that fair on GOG?

    • HothMonster says:

      What if it doesn’t affect the main storyline but a side quest is broken, or the ability to get a 100% completion? Seems like there is some wiggle room in there.

  3. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    The thing is, for GOG this is primarily a very sensible (and commendable) marketing move. They need something to distinguish them from their competition, and I’m not quite sure the DRM-free thing is doing it.

    Steam, on the other hand, doesn’t need any of that. And with the massive userbase Steam has, it’s almost certain that a similar system would get abused on a daily basis, resulting in lots of extra work for their still seriously understaffed support.

    • ZakG says:

      The reason i use GoG and not Steam(or other similar DD services) is all about the DRM Free. That is the cornerstone of why GoG is different. This returns policy is just another step in the direction of the good side of the force that GoG represents in the DD market.

      • Shadowcat says:

        Well said.

      • Barberetti says:

        Same here, and agreed

      • Premium User Badge

        tomeoftom says:

        gog really is fighting the good fight. I preferentially buy any title on gog.com before Steam et al, now, as a result of how nice they are as a company.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Abuse is a possibility with any kind of consumer “goodwill” program. That shouldn’t be an excuse to not bother with them at all.

      And Valve have been whining about their overloaded CS system for years, yet they’ve done little to improve it. Maybe it’s about time they started.

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        Possibility, yes. What I’m arguing is that in this case it’s a certainty. They claim to have 65 million active accounts. Let’s be conservative and cut that in half, to 32.5 million users. Now imagine this one person you know who has no moral standards to speak of, the kind of guy who’d scam his own grandmother for free cash if he saw an opportunity to do so. We know these people exist. If there is just one such person for every thousand honest souls (another conservative estimate), you have some 32 thousand complete bastards running loose in the system every minute, every day. And because we’re talking about the digital world where they can engage in their arseholery without ever leaving the chair, you bet they are going to abuse that system to hell and back. After all, they have so far abused absolutely everything even remotely prone to abuse Valve has put up (the coal metagame, the first iteration of Greenlight, rampant account scamming etc.).

        At the end of the day, Steam is still a business. I can’t imagine a move like this having a positive impact on their bottom line. Goodwill certainly translates to some extra sales, but I don’t think the volume of those extra sales can offset the costs.

        • Grey Poupon says:

          Given how easy and safe (if you do it right) pirating is, the fact that someone can scam a drn free game via a money back returns policy seems kind of moot. You’d have to go through a lot less trouble if you’d just download the drm free copy from somewhere else. This is again one of those things where legit customers are the ones that get sharp end of the stick while scammers and pirates are fine either way. Don’t f- over your customers just because there’s excessively greedy people in the world.

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            That is a very good point, yes. But I always fear the creativity of those people.

        • Mctittles says:

          I really think you are over estimating the amount of people willing to do this.

          Keep in mind that people LIKE to spend money. Most of us enjoy buying and owning “things” or at the very least just enjoy the act of buying. Things like Steam trading cards have boiled that down to the bare minimum and there are tons of people that still enjoy spending money just to spend money.

          With that in mind you can go a long way with customer support in your business and have little worries of not being able to handle it. Some of the most popular retailers realized this, with a take all returns with no questions policy. It kept customer satisfaction up with negligible cost.

      • ScubaMonster says:

        Yeah, at first I was thinking this will be too easy to be abused, but then I thought about it a little more. They already offer the games DRM free, so there’s no stopping anybody from distributing it to as many people as they like or uploading a torrent. And considering that you don’t get unlimited refunds, they’ll cut you off, their perceived losses would probably be even less than the nebulous and elusive claims of piracy numbers damaging a business. In short, if someone wanted to get their games for free, they were already doing it so any losses from this system would be negligible, and the free publicity of good will by them would probably increase their sales. I wish more businesses had this thought pattern.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Valve’s issue is that they want to keep everything running like a small company.

        They see hiring a dedicated support staff (or outsourcing one) as a step up the ladder to becoming an “evil” conglomerate like EA, Activision, etc.

        Remember Valve’s office culture is all about cliques. They see a support clique as a threat.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          That’s pretty much the gist of Valve’s outlook regarding any kind of upgraded customer service system. They’re avoiding the reality of the situation, though — there are a plethora of companies in the U.S. that specialize in setting up and maintaining specific custom-made CS packages that can fit any type of business, large or small.

          Valve could hire the right people and have a streamlined, tiered CS system within three months. Hell, I did precisely that type of work for many years, and I’m currently looking for supplemental employment opportunities. Hint hint, Valve :)

        • Baines says:

          Unfortunately, that desire has been helping move Valve towards becoming an “evil” conglomerate in effect, if not desire, anyway. When people have started grudgingly saying that EA offers a better online store service than you, you *are* becoming the bad guys.

          Gabe wants to split off Steam from Valve, or to split off Steam from responsibility (by making it just a storefront and delivery system, with players having to take up any issues with whoever is selling), but at this point even that is a disservice to customers.

    • misterT0AST says:

      Not having DRM is huge. Plus they are the only ones selling games like Nox and Sanitarium.

    • PonchoD says:

      I would have thought Steam would be able to implement this better than GOG as if you request a refund then the game is removed from your library remotely. Thereby making it unplayable…unless there is some way to copy the game files and play it without Steam that I don’t know about.

      • Tssha says:

        Unless the game requires Steam to run, yes, it often is that simple; just copy it to another spot on your hard drive.

        I mean, it won’t work for Civ V and Half-Life 2, but for everything else, it works just fine. Just don’t expect the copied folder to update itself.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          It will work for Half-Life 2, actually. Tried it myself for a lark the other day. One of the most famous DRM locks in the industry was silently removed a few months back.

      • Baines says:

        I’m pretty sure Valve simply doesn’t care. Their poor customer service is notorious.

        Further, a return policy might at least imply that they care about the quality of the games that they sell. As they continue to sell multiple broken games, or at the very least working games delivered in a broken state, they don’t.

    • Talon2000uk says:

      So staff up then. Being a good company is all about prioritising your customers needs. Good support should be a top priority for any software service provider. In today’s market steam is starting to get a lot of competition. The way you keep your customers is by providing them with a better service than any one else. Other wise they migrate to a company that does. Be warned Valve, you have had it easy for a long time, this is not 2006 where you were the only game in town.

    • hemmer says:

      The biggest reason for me to use gog.com is that they keep updating games to run on new systems.
      Of course no DRM is big for me too, but I find the comptability thing is often overlooked when discussing their service.

      • Premium User Badge

        tomeoftom says:

        Yeah, this is really important. I bought Thief 3 on Steam and ran into many nasty bugs. It required a lot of work that Valve could have done before packaging and selling it. Eventually I ran into a gamebreaking bug and received fuck all support. Last time I buy an old title from Steam.

    • Excelle says:

      It depends whether lost sales and the cost of supporting such a scheme weigh up favourably. I, for example, never buy old games on Steam anymore because I got fed up of the number of titles in my library that are just dead lost cash, because they have never worked and apparently never will.

      I wish Steam and GOG could resolve their differences and allow Steam to sell GOG-fixed titles.

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        That does not really depend on GOG or Steam, but on the publisher in question. I believe that for example the Thief releases sold on GOG and Steam are identical to the last byte, simply because Squeenix owns the full rights to that particular release, even though it was put together (i.e. patched) by GOG. And I think there were quite a few other cases where that happened.

        • Baines says:

          Its kind of sad to see GOG do the work, and then the publisher releases the fixed version of the game on Steam, where Valve makes all the profits. It is good for customers, but kind of sad for GOG.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            Gog doesn’t actually do most of the work in a lot of cases. They provide the tools but it’s up to the publisher to get the game working to standard in many cases.

          • MisterMumbles says:

            @Mokinokaro

            My BS senses are tingling something fierce. Publishers fixing their old games for GOG? If that isn’t a load of crock. There are a quite a lot of cases where those IP owners don’t even have the original game files anymore where GOG ends up having to rip those old game CDs from their own collection, patching them up for their re-release, and bundling it in their very own installers. Publishers (with some very very rare exceptions) have jack all to do with fixing their old games.

            Here’s a good example: The at the time quite rare World of Ultima games. EA didn’t have the slightest thing for either of those. The only way GOG was able to re-release them (for free! too) is due to fans of these games sending (lending?) GOG their old game disks as well as bundled extra materials such as cloth maps, manuals, etc. Yup, we wouldn’t have had those without these proceedings.

            Another example of GOG doing a superb fixer-upper of another at the time more obscure PC game: King of Dragon Pass. Hell, the original developer couldn’t figure out how to ‘digitize’ his game without it requiring it the game disc in drive as it used some very antiquated mechanics, but GOG did its magic and managed to work around that issue. Good thing, too, as it is a superb game a lot of people haven’t heard of before, including myself until its GOG release.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            @MisterMumbles, my fanboy meter is tingling

            The games that went from gog to steam were not modified by gog. System Shock 2, for instance, is a package compiled by the current rights holder using fan patches to run on modern systems.

            90% of gog’s library is using the same setup to run on old systems (DOSbox.). For most of them that’s all they require to run on newer systems.

            You make it sound like they’re completely rewriting the games when they’re not ( except for a very few cases.)

            GoG’s biggest contribution to the gaming community is making these older games available at all.

            I also suspect they get some cut of the games using their distribution packages.

  4. deiseach says:

    I work for an American company who operate on this kind of basis. All of our products are electronic, have a 30-day money back guarantee, and we have no way of stopping customer continuing to use it. It works very well. Customers are often embarrassed to ask for refunds. I would add though that our customers would not be particularly computer savvy. They tend to think that once they get the refund they won’t be able to access the product, which obviously won’t be the case here. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how this experiment in earning goodwill gets on.

  5. MeestaNob says:

    I think this policy will just encourage dishonesty and give people an out when they make a poor purchases, but it’s still nice of them. It will win then lots of lovely headlines.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      It’s surprising that GoG hasn’t done this before. Their games are already drm free, so anybody who wanted to cheat would just have torrented the game in the first place!

      Edit: wasn’t intended as a reply, pardon

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      It doesn’t “encourage” dishonesty. It gives already dishonest people a way to scam GOG.

      • MisterMumbles says:

        As gombicek has already pointed out, if a person really doesn’t want to pay for it, there’s a very likely chance a torrent for the GOG version exists. I know for a very sad fact that a lot of GOG games/installers are floating around on torrent sites out there. So why bother trying to scam and going through a possible several days/weeks-long convoluted back-and-forth with GOG support when you can get the very same title with practically no hassle with just a few clicks? That’s a lot of time wasted, and I really can’t see many of those people be bothered enough to go through with the former.

        If you’re going to be shady might as well be smarter about it. =/

  6. bruibrui1 says:

    I wonder how this applies in the EU. After all, here we have implied warranties on all goods. The warranty period is 2 years (maybe in some member states it is a little shorter, say 1 year, I am not certain).

    Theoretically, if GOG delivers a faulty good (= software that does not work even though my PC meets the minimum requirements) or even if it “goes bad” in that 2 year period (= I buy a new PC that STILL meets the minimum requirements, but for some reason the game won’t run on it, even though it did on the old PC) they have to either fix it or refund it.

    Apparently so far they have been ignoring that law. And even now we only get a glimpse (30 days) of the protection that we are entitled to.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      The EU directive in question refers to the sale of consumer goods, defined thus:

      consumer goods: shall mean any tangible movable item, with the exception of:
      – goods sold by way of execution or otherwise by authority of law,
      – water and gas where they are not put up for sale in a limited volume or set quantity,
      – electricity;

      So not downloaded software, sorry.
      (source: Eur-Lex )

      • Ich Will says:

        You are entitled to a 7 day statutory cooling off period with software, though not if “service has commenced”. If you have access to a download, then service has commenced. Unless you can demonstrate that you couldn’t download the game and it was their fault, then you have no automatic rights anymore. This doesn’t mean they can fob you off with a duff product, but it does mean that you’ll likely have to go through a small claims court.

        It is a glaring hole in consumer protection though, and I fully expect this to be patched up soon – well soon in political terms, say in the next decade. Probably will be instigated when someone like Adobe starts shipping a broken product because who cares about games, right, Games are for kids.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      Warranty regulations do not cover software unless specified by manufacturer.

    • Premium User Badge

      jimbobjunior says:

      As pointed out above, it doesn’t currently apply to software, nor can it easily be applied to software without some serious thought http://www.lavasoft.com/mylavasoft/company/blog/two-year-guarantee-for-software-products-within-the-eu

  7. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    An excellent move. Another needle in a back of a huge companies doing half of the “wrong” things in a PC gaming.
    I just wish they’d get more AAA titles to gain popularity on a mass-market.
    Oh… and Paradox – they should have signed contract with them. I don’t know why they didn’t do that yet. Paradox desperately needs to move away from Steam dependency, and GoG shares many good values with Paradox.

    • gombicek says:

      At least paradox games are drm free, so you only need steam to download the game. So I don’t care if i download it from steam or gog. But yeah it will probably get them more sales.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Paradox likes the patching convenience of steam which is a good thing considering the release state of many of their products.

      Patch delivery is not one of gog’s strong points.

      Also I can’t trust the company that dropped Sword of the Stars 2 on our laps. Paradox lost me forever as a customer after that.

  8. somnolentsurfer says:

    Thing is, even if Valve offered this deal, the proportion of games I’ve bought on Steam that I’ve even installed within 30 days, never mind actually attempted to play, is a tiny, tiny fraction.

  9. Vorrin says:

    Nathan: about this second bout of: ‘(see also: fixing its long-troublesome offline mode).’ , that is kind of fixed, as far as I know, and was already so when you posted your linked article regarding a 6 months old forum post about it (so no valve time in there, it was fixed already).

    • Shadowcat says:

      Well let’s see. I just unplugged my network cable and tried to load a Steam game. I am now looking at a dialog box which reads “Steam – Error. Unable to connect to the Steam network. ‘Offline Mode’ is unavailable because there is no Steam login information stored on this computer. You will not be able to use Steam until you can connect to the Steam network again.” (and yes, I have logged into Steam on this computer in the past, and I have not asked Steam to purge any data).

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        Auto-login needs to be turned on for offline mode to work. It’s designed to work like that, for fairly obvious reasons. The checkbox you need to tick says “Store credentials on this computer”, or something like that.

        EDIT: It actually says “Don’t save account credentials on this computer”, and needs to be unticked. And it even says that this is required for offline mode right below.

        • Shadowcat says:

          My (online) log-in window had no such text, so in fairness I decided to log in online and let Steam update itself so that I could obtain the offline fix. Logging in worked fine. I then told it to go offline. Hilariously, Steam is now broken, and doesn’t let me connect (online or offline), so I cannot play any games. I know I’m publicly anti-DRM and critical of Steam in general, but I swear I am not making this up. This is, of course, exactly the class of bullshit problem which simply isn’t a possibility with DRM-free games.

          • Bull0 says:

            Well, you could have a game that won’t launch, or won’t launch without a patch, or won’t launch after a patch, etc. The idea that the only thing that ever stopped someone from playing their game is DRM or online requirements is a bit, uh, what

          • Shadowcat says:

            Which is why I said “class” of problem, and didn’t say any of the things that you just said. I will also emphasise that the current issue doesn’t prevent me from playing “a” game; it prevents me from playing ANY of my Steam games. In other words, this is a particularly nasty class of problem to encounter, and a much bigger deal than any specific game not working for some other reason.

          • Bull0 says:

            Sorry for not understanding what you meant by “Class” of problem. You’ll have to share your classification criteria with the rest of the group at some point.

          • Emeraude says:

            The problem isn’t that DRM are the “only thing” that can stop you from playing, it’s that they’re a thing put on top of all the others, that have no benefit whatsoever for the consumer. And the developer as well as far as we can tell.

            As for the other issues you mentioned: a game that just won’t launch, period, is a defective product, one you can get a refund. And a game you own without DRM that gets broken by a patch (if anything an indictment of why auto-patching shouldn’t be a thing) can just be reinstalled. That’s not necessarily true for a DRM laden game, depending o the solution used.

  10. Jayson82 says:

    I was stung by the X-rebirth issue on steam i.e. its a game that is unfit for retail.

    When I asked for my money back a guy called tech support Robbie basically said no look at section 3 of there terms and conditions. Apparently this guy says no, no matter what anyone says he also will use any excuse even false ones.

    Anyhow I rang up trading standards here in the uk and they said under the sale of goods act 1979 digital sales are covered and if you buy a digital good that is unfit for purpose and the retailer can not fix it or replace it if you had trouble downloading it if that was your problem then they have to give you a refund.

    I stated this act to tech support Robbie and what trading standards said and did you know what he did? Just ignored it, yea here in the UK companies even ones outside the UK can not do that. So this week ill be reporting steam to trading standards. Wonder how that will turn out.

    Another interesting new piece of legislation in the eu and uk is something called the consumers rights directive here is the EU page http://ec.europa.eu/justice/consumer-marketing/rights-contracts/directive/ and the actual uk bill https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/206367/bis-19-925-draft-consumer-rights-bill.pdf check out the section on digital goods it looks like steam is not following them here.

    This bill is something for the RPS staff to look into as it effects all digital goods now including games.

    • Ich Will says:

      Use: https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

      You’ll have to pay £25 to access the small claims track on your local courts but you get to claim that back. If we all fucking do this, and it’s really simple and straight forward, you need no legal representation and the whole process is there to support you, steam will have to stop taking the piss and the courts will be so inundated with these claims they will bitch to the policy makers about it.

      Yes you have to front £25, yes you have to go to court and dress nicely but it will be so worth it in the long run! How many of us have spent £25 to support our principles, say in kickstarting a game in a genre we love or buying a second copy of a game because it’s rereleased DRM free. This way however, you get it back in the end.

    • kororas says:

      I’m currently stuck on this as well, Robbie is really **** me off. He even went as far as to re-categorise and close my ticket.

      Thanks for the headsup though guys, I’m not going to let Steam get away with this.

    • JiminyJetson says:

      I too have been lumped with Robbie when trying to get a refund for X:Rebirth. I’ve had a string of one-line replies just stating ‘We cannot give you a refund’, regardless of what reasons and facts I throw at him.
      The standard of customer service i’ve gotten from Steam has been absolutely shocking. I think i’m done buying games with them.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Anybody affected by this twerp Robbie should definitely not allow him to get away with that kind of behavior.

        *Push the subject with him if the ticket is still open — be polite, add more details if you have them, but make him aware that you will not be ignored.
        *Ask him to escalate the ticket — Steam doesn’t have a tiered CS system per se, but any rep worth their weight is going to know what you mean when you ask for an escalation.
        *If your ticket is closed, open another one — mention Robbie by name and request a different CS rep. Make sure your new ticket has as much information as possible, and be polite.
        *If all else fails, threaten to get third parties involved — you’d be surprised at how quickly things can turn around once “interested outside parties” like watchdog groups and regulatory bodies are mentioned; just don’t bother with bringing your lawyer into the conversation, as Valve is essentially solicitor-proof ATM.

        Steam reps have a habit of closing tickets prematurely, so don’t let them think they can get away with that.

        Refunds from Steam are possible (I’ve received four of them). You just have to be persistent.

    • Jayson82 says:

      I don’t really care about the cash you know its the principle of the thing, if steam is willing to brake the law in such a way and treat there customers like this they do not deserve any more cash from myself or anyone else.

      I always thought steam was the best digital games platform out there, its a shame that I was wrong.

      The way they act should be a warning to any games companies that uses them exclusively if they are willing to treat there customers which such contempt there is nothing to stop them from treating those developers with the same contempt.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      That bill does not apply to digital good as mentioned above. Digital goods currently count as a service under EU law.

  11. Premium User Badge

    FriendGaru says:

    Given that it would be incredibly easy to pirate GOG games, I expect that anyone who would abuse the system would just go to the Pirate Bay anyways.

  12. Lobotomist says:

    GOG is really pushing the envelope. Unfortunately i bought just about everything i am interested in from their store. So come on bring some new stuff :)

  13. jatan says:

    Hi-what about a demo policy?
    how about a demo is just a time locked version of main game say 1 minute for ios/mobile/android and upto 10 minutes for pc ‘full experience ‘ games (or longer if devs want)- the store ( would define the minimum )
    players can see if it runs and is non rubbish at least (this would kill about 75% of all my ios purchases :)- and help sort the wheat from the chaff more naturally
    also devs would get download figures and see conversion rates

    steam is an odd one because loads of people/me included- buy games on steam that i will never have time to play- but there are definite games that i have bought- that i would like to register they fact that is was not for me – i e i bought it and it just was not what i wanted ..(.monaco is a case in point – i thought it looked great interesting in videos and it got great write ups- within 5 minutes of buying i knew it was not for me- be nice to get a refund)

    i know this is not a new idea- but i imagine if refunds were as easy as purchases – there is going to be a lot of issues (30days seems unfair btw 1 day or 30 minutes etc seems more realistic)

    i think this also leads into an early access /kickstarter conversation…..

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Time locked demos get hacked really easily unfortunately.

      It would be nice for Valve to institute a mandatory demo policy but that would drive the big publishers away who won’t spend time and money on demo development.

      (Edit: cellphone mangled the message)

  14. AbyssUK says:

    Does GOG have a transfer your stuff from Steam button ? or can I unlock games I own already on steam for free ?

    • Tssha says:

      Though Steam’s policy on keys is quite generous (developers can get access to as many steam keys as they like, and give them to whoever they want), I haven’t encountered even a single other DD distributor who had a policy anything like this. GOG, I know, doesn’t have this.

      You’d have to buy the game from them to get it from them, or to get a refund from them. They need to pay the bills, you know.

      • gombicek says:

        I think that only game on steam which can also be registered on gog without buying it from them is The Witcher 1 and 2. At least it was possible.

        • Similar says:

          Pretty sure it isn’t anymore, not for Witcher 2, at least. I think it was for a limited time or something (or maybe it only worked one way, from Steam to GOG).

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Desura and Humble are the notable exceptions. Both give steam keys when possible.

  15. noxteryn says:

    Steam does the same thing as well, despite their official stance. I’ve had a bunch of refunds to my Steam Wallet for unopened gifts and stuff simply by asking. This isn’t such a big deal.

    • Vinraith says:

      Steam most certainly does not do this, in my experience. Refunding unopened Steam gifts is one thing, but just try getting a refund out of Steam for a game they sold you that doesn’t work. You’ll be lucky if support even writes you back to say “no.”

      • DrGonzo says:

        They most certainly do do this. You may encounter an arse in customer support. May gave to quote your rights, but they give refunds, stop spreading your misinformation.

        In fact, blocked, you are the worst thing about this website, and don’t deserve to use that avatar.

        • Faxmachinen says:

          Real mature. I for one appreciate it when people tell me of their experiences, whether it’s Vinraith or noxteryn.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Yeah, there’s one or two “support” people that are really hard to deal with, but if you avoid them it’s not hard to get a refund from Steam as long as your request is reasonable (they’re not going to refund you for a game you’ve already spent a good dozen hours playing, for instance, outside of really extreme circumstances.)

          • Vinraith says:

            I obviously can’t speak to anyone else’s experience, but I’ve never had a good customer support experience with Steam. More often than not I’ve had no luck getting a response at all, and when I have gotten one it’s always been no. Silent Hunter 4 spent 6 months on my Steam list, unpatched and incompatible with the DLC, unable to be run at all, and three separate inquiries to Steam support resulted in “that’s already been fixed,” “we’re working on it,” and “try reinstalling” (in that order). It was eventually resolved a couple of years later, but that game was unplayable for years on my account, and they refused to even acknowledge it was a problem. Other experiences have been similar. If there are only a few people like that in Steam support, I must have incredibly bad luck.

            Conversely, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with Gamersgate, who have gone so far as to refund a game because I’d failed to notice it had unpleasant DRM on it. I can’t say nice enough things about those guys. I’ve never had reason to contact GOG, so I’ve no idea how they are.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            My one experience with gamers gate support: When I bought King’s Bounty there was some kind of problem with the credit card transaction and the payment bounced, but I still got the download key.

            I emailed them 3 times to tell them I owed them money for the game, never got a single reply. I’d have just rebought it, but I couldn’t as it was already on my account.

            Not sure if that’s a positive or negative experience…

          • Mokinokaro says:

            I’ve occasionally had an issue with a missing activation key on Gamersgate (we’re talking maybe 1 in 25 purchases) and it took them a couple days to resolve it.

            Didn’t have any issues at all with the staff response there. They were quite courteous so I suspect the delay was more likely on the publisher side.

  16. Spoon Of Doom says:

    I think Steam primarily says “no refunds” to prevent abuse of the system (buy, play and/or crack, return or something like that). If you have a somewhat reasonable request, they don’t seem to have much issues with offering people refunds (at least as Steam Wallet money, but if you buy stuff on Steam you can probably use that anyway) – as evidenced with stories like War Z and other broken releases lately, where I’m pretty sure I read about refunds to womanz (and manz).
    And as additional, but purely anecdotal evidence: on the last Steam sale, I bought the “Enter The Dominatrix” DLC for Saints Row IV. Stupid as I am, it was only after the purchase that I saw there was a season pass available for only about one euro more, which I also bought. I then wrote a nice mail to support, explaining this situation and that I’m an idiot, asking nicely if it would be possible to refund the original purchase of the single DLC. After a few hours I had a polite answer and my money in my Steam Wallet.

  17. Malfeas says:

    Another reason to support GOG. I’m fine with that.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Simbosan says:

    I’ve got refunds from Steam a few times, they’ve been very good. I think this would be a great addition though, and maybe easier for Steam than GoG to control. Let’s see if they go for it.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Martel says:

    Wish I could have gotten a refund for X: Rebirth. And yes, I know it’s all my fault for preordering the game, but that is a situation that Steam refunds should have been warranted.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      Sorry to be an asshole but, people who preorder games should not have any refunds even if the game ends up being crap… and then they should learn to stop preordering games.

      (ah!, that felt good)

  20. dmoe says:

    I’ve had 2 refunds given to me by Valve after having issues with non-Valve titles. And a third initiated by a friend in Australia after purchasing the L4D2 censored copy which he had no idea about. After he spoke to them and said he wasn’t happy about getting the censored version, Valve refunded his money back.

  21. PsychoWedge says:

    I once tried to get a refund but after a week of… correspondence… I gave up. I got SiN Emergency as a gift from a friend and after I downloaded and played it, I saw it was the heavely censored German version they sell here in retail stores. But, and this is the important point, there was no low violence warning on the store page, therefore making it false advertisement of a product. So I wrote them that I played it for 20 minutes, which they can check, deinstalled it, want it removed from my library and want my friend to get the money back. I argued that we would never have bought it in the first place if the low violence warning had been correctly stated on the store page and that neither I nor he want to have or play censored games.

    I thought my reasoning was rather understandable and my approach rather sensible. The first three replys demonstrated they didn’t even read my first mail (they told me about the German government and the laws for youth protection) and after that it got worse. In the end I just got so tired of this bullshitting that I gave up. Every single of my encounters with the steam support has been ridiculously unfruitful because they don’t even read the messages. It’s the worst support I’ve ever had. Even SWToR in the months after release was better and that was BAD support…

  22. MichaelPalin says:

    If you are going to abuse the system to get free games you could, you know, just pirate the game instead.

    As for Valve’s policy, one thing to take into account is that Valve wants to be a company that moves a massive amount of money, while being relatively small. They make as much money as a big publisher, while having ten times less workforce. Therefore, having to go through individualized problems with games and players is something that they want to avoid as much as possible. Hopefully, they will eventually have to take responsibility for what they sell.

  23. Germanicus says:

    Steam: Charge a digital “restocking fee” for general returns or trade away :) Limit the number per year or something.

    There are some games I’d just like to get rid of from my library.

    I do read the reviews and watch game play, but sometimes what you expect or were led to expect simply isn’t there.

    GOG: It’s a bit easy for them to do this as they aren’t selling 59.99 just released yesterday games.

  24. waltC says:

    I buy games everywhere (but the only online services I use are Gog and Steam), and I have an anecdote worth sharing about Gog:

    There are a series of old games that I’ve been buying from Gog (the series title is irrelevant–hint, though: so corny they are funny, fedora), but one afternoon I attempted to purchase #4 in the series as I had all of the other ones (lost my originals in a fire ages ago)–but somehow feeble-fingers here pressed the buy button for #3, and I already had #3! Of course I didn’t download the game as I didn’t want it! I emailed Gog support immediately, and even though it was the middle of the night there, I had a response in under an hour. The guy asked me for the pertinent transaction info which I supplied, and in under six hours the sale for #3 had been reversed and it was no longer in my Gog library and #4 was sitting there just waiting on me to download it! (The games were the same price so this was possible for Gog to do with no further action on my part.) Terrific service! These guys will go the second mile–and the really great thing is when you email Gog support you *don’t* get a script reader–you get someone who is thoroughly involved with the company and has the authority to do what is necessary. The error was mine–not Gog’s. But they fixed it anyway–in the middle of the night–and sent me emails which convinced me they were sincerely glad to have been of service. That’s first-class, in my book! Bravo!

  25. Premium User Badge

    puppybeard says:

    I bought Dark Souls on pc, and the tutorial section was utterly unintelligible. They didn’t bother to change the dialogs to reflect the fact that people might not be playing it on an xbox controller. Wish I could give it back, but I don’t think it would count as un-finishable.

    I’m not sure if “it’s a half-arsed pile of shit” counts as a game-breaking bug, as I could only play it for five minutes before giving up, maybe it is? It looks like shit and all.

    • Ich Will says:

      Not many retailers give refunds because you didn’t know what you were buying and don’t like it. In future, do more research, don’t pre-order and don’t assume that just because you don’t get on with a game that there is something wrong with it. Many people adore Dark Souls.

      • Premium User Badge

        puppybeard says:

        Yes, Dad.

        I actually bought it on a whim, in a sale, for about a fiver. But even the mild curiosity that drove me to do that turned to ashes in my mouth when I tried to play it.

        Caveat emptor and all that, certainly. It doesn’t excuse the fact that they made a big pile of muck and charged people for it. It’s a blatantly unfinished piece of software, and From Software, the cheeky scumbags, have acknowledged that it’s horribly broken. So they do they patch it? No, they tell us they’ll do a better job next time. I can’t see how they could possibly do a worse job. This isn’t a matter of taste, it’s a matter of integrity.

        Honestly if I gave someone a piece of software like that, I’d feel morally obliged to commit seppuku in front of them. Where are the standards?

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Sadly dark souls is an absolutely awful port (and a terrible game IMO) as it was ported by its Japanese developer and PC gaming just isn’t a thing in Japan outside of fan games and porn.

      It’s also awful to play with a keyboard even if you figure out the controls.

    • Archangel says:

      Thank goodness I didn’t pay much for it, but I was eventually convinced to buy Dark Souls by its legions of rabid fans. What I would have given for a demo! (Youtube playthroughs only do so much.) I found mouse/keyboard control with DSFix, natch) superior to the drunken-backwards-trolley-pushing of the xbox controller, but rest assured this will be my first game on the block when Steam implements their Used Game sale policy.* I know it’s just the cost of a sandwich, but hey — I could have had a sandwich!

      * They will never do this, of course.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Even if they did, Dark Souls is cursed with GFWL and it’s unlikely to be patched out by the developers.

  26. Agnol117 says:

    This would be much more appealing to me if it applied retroactively more than just thirty days. All the games I’ve purchased that don’t work for me are long outside that period. It’s great that they’re doing this, but it doesn’t really help those of us with broken games we purchased a while back.

  27. DrManhatten says:

    Steam is only forward thinking in terms how it can get more money from you!

  28. Greggh says:

    I got my money back on many occasions on Valve – the 1st off a “bad” pre-order – I found out later that the game was launched via the developer.

    On others I just explained, with honest to god feedback, how the game I had bought wasn’t even worthy of being called a game (or a piece of shit, even!)

    YMMV! – it depends on the mood of the indian guy on the other end, trying to impersonate a british girl or a cowboy-hat gun-toting american (see, I was doubley prejudiced! That zeros it out, right?)

  29. DuneTiger says:

    Good. Maybe I can return my copy of Soul Reaver that refuses to work on modern systems. I thought that gog specialized in making old games work (at least functionally). Meh.

    In their defense, tho, 80% of their catalog is old stuff and readily available from any number of sources. They’re in a much easier position to do refunds because these games have all been endlessly pirated already, which is essentially the reasoning behind no-refunds anyway.

  30. wodin says:

    I remember going to Game and HMV and taking games back for exchange..reason,..didn’t like it…Always got an exchange no problem.