Customers will no longer face the prospect of a Byzantine journey when attempting to extract a refund from Steam, as Valve has today established a fairly comprehensive policy on returning people’s money.
I say “fairly,” as it does still have a couple of loopholes, which we’ll come to in a bit.
First, the overwhelmingly good news. According to newly established Steam refund rules, you may now request your money back for “any reason” as long as “the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours.”
If you meet those requirements, your request and refund should come through within a week. You can receive the money through your initial method of payment, or (presumably if you prefer) in Steam wallet funds. Valve say they’ll also opt for Steam wallet funds if they’re unable to refund you through the other method for whatever reason.
Refund requests will be handled through Steam’s help page.
Customers are also welcome to request a refund, “even if [they] fall outside of the refund rules.” Your chances will probably be reduced, but Valve say they’ll “take a look” anyway.
The page linked above outlines a few special cases and circumstances (refunds on DLC, refunds on in-game purchases and so on,) and what Valve will consider acceptable grounds for a refund in each case. They’ve actually thought about these things in advance, which is encouraging.
There’s also a note on potential abuse of the refund process, which states “If it appears to us that you are abusing refunds, we may stop offering them to you.” This is presumably designed to address the potential for (a) Buying a Steam game that the developer has kindly opted to make DRM-free, copying it to a separate folder, and then requesting a refund, or (b) Finding all the sub-2 hour games on Steam and playing them for free.
Hopefully Valve can keep track of anybody trying to pull that sort of stunt.
Requesting a refund for a game you just bought because it’s now on sale (and cheaper) is listed as a specific example of something Valve does not consider abuse of the system. As long as you’re still within the 14 day/2 hour period. So that’s something you can do, if necessary.
Overall, as the headline states, this is long overdue, and a major positive in Steam’s favour.