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GOG's new refund policy is betting on the good faith of customers

GOG.com have gone and updated their refund policy, and it’s a doozy. This week, the DRM-free storefront announced that their 30-day refund window is expanding, no longer limited to games that have sat unplayed and undownloaded in your library. Now, you can spend a whole month plugging in the hours, working out whether you want to keep your new toy before the clock runs down. It’s a generous move – twice as long as comparable policies, with none of the playtime restrictions. But it’s one places a lot of faith in their customers not to take advantage of that generosity.

GOG’s refund policy has always had a month-long breathing room, but there were strict caveats. You’d usually only get your money back if a game hadn’t yet been downloaded or played. A sort of “oh, I didn’t really want that” option for salvaging impulse purchases. Special consideration would be taken if a purchase had technical issues, but ’til now, you’d usually be stuck with a game once you downloaded it – whether you liked it or not.

This week, GOG announced that it was kicking the doors to refunds wide open, whether you’ve downloaded a game or not.

This new approach is staggeringly generous, even by the standards of GOG’s competitors. On Steam, you’ve got 14 days to decide whether you’re sticking with a purchase, as long as you don’t plug more than 2 hours into the game. It’s the same deal over on the Epic Games Store. But with GOG, you’ve now got a whole 30 days to make up your mind, and it doesn’t even look like there’s a hard limit on playtime.

Of course, refunds aren’t being granted without question. Refunds can be requested by contacting GOG’s customer support team, and – as GOG confirmed to the folks at PC Gamer – the store will treat each refund on a case-by-case basis, asking you to explain why you’d like your money back. It’s not really clear where they’re drawing that like, though. On their Refund Policy FAQ, GOG merely ask that you be reasonable.

“Please respect all the time and hard work put into making the games you play and remember that refunds are not reviews. If you finished the game and didn’t like it, please consider sharing your opinion instead. Also, please don’t take advantage of our trust by asking for an unreasonable amount of games to be refunded. Don’t be that person. No one likes that person.”

If you are that person (really, don’t be), GOG reserves the right to say no to refund requests. Still, 30 days is a long time. Long enough that you could beat all but the longest RPG sprawls and still potentially get away with a refund.

There’s a more troubling side to GOG’s policy, mind. See, the store’s big selling point is that, unlike Steam or Origin or that, none of the games it sells contain DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions of any kind. You shouldn’t ever have to check in with a server or launcher to verify ownership before firing up a game. Good stuff, right?

But it throws a strange wrench into this refund policy. Right now, it’s unclear what’s stopping someone from downloading a game and backing up the installer (or the game files entirely) on another drive before getting a refund. Responding to a concerned comment on their original Twitter post, GOG explained that they’re counting on their customers to just, like, be cool about it.

“This update was possible thanks to our community’s respect for all the time and hard work put into creating the games you buy on GOG.com and playing by the rules. We can only hope and encourage users to continue to do so.”

Time will tell if that faith holds out.

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Natalie Clayton

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