A couple of days ago the hot discussion on Reddit was about No Man's Sky [offical site] refunds, with a post about applying for refunds on Steam (and being granted them) regardless of playtime quickly garnering a lot of attention. Steam has since added a notice to their store page for No Man's Sky stating:
"The standard Steam refund policy applies to No Man's Sky. There are no special exemptions available."
It's interesting language because the statement mentions that there are no "special exemptions" for No Man's Sky. This is speculation on my part, but having read the original Reddit post and subsequent edits my feeling is that perhaps players were left with the impression that No Man's Sky is being treated differently as a product by sales platforms and that retailers like Steam were being more generous with their refunding outside the usual parameters.
The thing is, you could still theoretically get a refund if you've got a longer playtime than the standard less-than-two-hours, but that's actually not specific to No Man's Sky.
If you take a look at the Steam Refund policy it states that generally (and with a few exceptions) you can get a refund for any reason if you request one within fourteen days of purchase and have played for less than two hours. That's the no-questions-asked, quick refund option. It's not a flawless system, especially for short games, but you can see the basic idea - you've played a little of the game and found it's not for you so you get to take it back.
The policy also notes: "There are more details below, but even if you fall outside of the refund rules we’ve described, you can ask for a refund anyway and we’ll take a look."
Essentially Steam acknowledges that there might be cases which fall outside the fourteen days/two hours scenario and leaves the door open for players to state their case and argue for a refund.
Based on discussion around the game, responses to that Reddit thread in particular, and the fact Steam now has a note to officially restate their position right next to the purchase button I'd assume that people are requesting refunds en masse on the offchance that they can get their money back now they're done with the game.
As someone still playing the game and working through my own thoughts (I'll try to put something together later today) as well as an observer of the backlash to the game I've started to wonder about the point at which you might realise that a game isn't the game you thought it was. Whether, for No Man's Sky, that would be in the first two hours?
I think there's a big chunk of discussion around No Man's Sky which seems to have become unmoored from the actual game and is actively revelling in the calamitous launch and ongoing fallout so I really don't want to add to that.
What I will say is that it's interesting to me the point at which you might hit a feeling of samey-ness. In a lot of the pre-release situations where I encountered conversation/interviews/footage/marketing material for the game there was also this idea that sometimes you would encounter awesome things and sometimes you might encounter a lot of boring things. If you're someone who doesn't like the basic experience of No Man's Sky would you realise that or might you be holding on and assuming you just needed to find a different planet - one similar to the oft-referenced gameplay trailer with its space-brachiosaur and herds of cyber-gazelles?
Anyway, to me this reads at Steam trying to stem the tide of people chancing their arm at a refund but not denying that some valid refund scenarios outside the fourteen-day/two-hour window might exist.