One of the biggest complaints levied at Valve is the lack of proper refunds. Yes, every once in a while during controversial game releases gamers are allowed to exercise refunds, but it's not a standard policy on Steam. Well, that all changed today after Valve announced full refunds for games for up to 14 days after the initial purchase.
Over on the official Steam website Valve makes the wording quite clear and cut on games and DLC – yes, DLC is included as well – that gamers can get refunds for, stating...
You can request a refund for nearly any purchase on Steam—for any reason. […] It doesn't matter. Valve will, upon request via help.steampowered.com, issue a refund for any reason, if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours.
This is a huge step up and a major victory for gamers concerned about their consumer rights. You can also get refunds on in-game DLC purchases, with a 48 hour window for Valve's own games and a developer-discretion model for third-party games. This means that if you want a refund on some DLC for Call of Duty or the latest Need for Speed game, it would be up to Activision and EA to enable the option for DLC refunds on their products.
Valve is also opening up the option to get refunds on pre-purchased titles as well, so any gamer who put money down on a game before it released can also request a refund prior to the release of the game. You're no longer locked into the purchase of the pre-order culture that some gamers feel is very anti-consumer (mostly because you can't know what the content is like and paying full price for an untested game is dangerous territory).
Keep in mind that third-party purchases for content outside of Steam will not be refunded. So if you get a CD key from a third-party distributor or vendor, Valve will not refund you for that purchase.
VAC bans on a game also prohibit you from being eligible for refunds. So if you spend two hours playing a game, cheat, get VAC banned and then attempt to get a refund your request will be denied. Cheaters never win... when it comes to getting refunds from Valve.
The initiative comes shortly after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued and won against Valve back in mid 2014 in regards to offering consumer protection for digital goods. In this particular case, the protection was the ability for consumers to exercise their rights to refunds on digital goods.
Valve's Doug Lombardi had acknowledged that Valve would be cooperating with the ACCC and the ruling governing bodies regarding consumer concerns and protection when it comes to digital goods, and thus we now see that Steam has offered users the ability to get refunds within 14 days of purchase and with less than two hours of gameplay on record. I'm sure there will still be some hackers who will attempt to circumvent the system one way or another, but that's to be expected.
Valve also has in place a safety measure for those who attempt to use the refund policy as a means of “play testing” a game for two hours and then getting a refund: accounts found to be in violation of the refund policy will be restricted from exercising their right to use the new system.
You can learn more about the new refund policy over on Steam's help section.