Currently, there’s not much you can do about getting a refund on a digital purchase of an Xbox or Windows 10 game. Microsoft’s policy as it stands now is a simple “no” on returns. But that may soon change. Selected Xbox and Windows 10 Insider members have access to a self-service refund pilot program, with parameters that are similar to the Steam return policy. Games eligible for a full refund must have been purchased within the last 14 days, and can only have less than two hours of play time recorded across all accounts. DLC and other digital add-ons are not allowed.
While the refund policy being tested seems like a great idea for customers, not everyone is pleased. The Chinese Room, the studio behind Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, has been firing off on Twitter about the impending policy change, mostly taking issue with the two-hour play window.
It’s REALLY simple. Refunds should operate off a percentage of game completed. Simple, fair, representative.
A common complaint of Steam’s refund policy by some independent developers follows in the same vein. Critics say the two-hour refund turnaround is unfair to smaller, more “artsy” projects. Games that can be finished or have a majority of their content experienced within the time limit can then be returned for a full refund because there is no difference in the policy between a two-hour linear videogame story and a limitless open world sandbox. Essentially, Steam customers can consume the whole product, get their money back, then leave the developers in the lurch.
Microsoft hasn’t officially commented on their refund policy yet, but it’s possible we may get more news at E3 in June. Also, it will be interesting to see if Sony follows suit.