Shivoa's forum posts

#1 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

While I'd read quite a few of Austin's articles previous to this (and podcast appearances like 3MA), I'd not listened to Stream Friends.

Last couple of days I've had TheCrew & Beyond playing while working. Highly recommended duders! Even more excited for Giant BEast (and maybe one day a new Endurance Run series?)

#2 Edited by Shivoa (689 posts) -
@leejunfan83 said:
@tomba_be said:
@leejunfan83 said:

Steam refund quote - " maybe you played the title for an hour and just didn't like it." then " If it appears to us that you are abusing refunds, we may stop offering them to you." Huh? What?

It would make more sense if they would just stop selling games to you. If you keep returning items to a store (because the store has a refund policy that allows you to return items that you decide you don't like/need), that store will refuse to sell you anything. I once returned a DVD box because the actual DVD wasn't in there. Which seems a pretty clear warranty issue. Before they swapped it with another box, I had to show my ID. When I asked why that was necessary they said that if I returned items like that frequently I would end up on some list that (several) stores use to refuse service to customers. It's a reasonable prevention against abusers imo.

Why punish consumers for using the policy as intended? Some people are very picky and value their money and time. So they'll feel the need to return items as much as they want.

Because stores don't have to serve everyone. They're not allowed to discriminate against who you are but are allowed to simply not serve you because your history means they are no longer interested in selling to you. If you ask for a lot of refunds then Valve don't want to lose more money on you from transaction fees etc and so remove your ability to get refunds or buy more games. The policy is not to allow consumers to say they're never satisfied but to prevent the sale of items that are, broadly speaking, defective (see above link to EU regulation language). Valve include "didn't like it" in that definition but I guarantee that consistently being unsatisfied is how you lose the ability to buy more games from Steam. As it should be to prevent abuse. As it is in stores all over the world who have had to deal with operating a refund policy for decades. This is not some new problem no one has ever tried to solve before that you're going to find a massive hole in, it's actually standard business practice.

#3 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

Yeah, I'm not sure about the amount of time being a determining factor. This seems like a huge potential loss of money.

See, it really sounds like they are inviting people to download any game on their store, play it for an hour or so, and then ask for a refund - essentially making every game on Steam into a demo. The problem, though, is that when a merchant rebates a credit card, the bank takes a small surcharge on that transaction. If people start abusing this system, that surcharge could really start to add up - especially if that cost is on the developers, as they would be running a net loss on each refunded sale addition to not actually getting the sale. This could be a significant financial mistake.

Of course, as someone who spends a significant portion of their day making credit card rebates, maybe I'm overreacting - I'm sure Valve will be flexible enough to make adjustments if need be. But as they announced this, it seems super exploitable in a way that gives me a headache to think about. Those poor, poor accountants.

Luckily we literally have decades of legally mandated distance selling regulations forcing stores to offer refunds and how that has worked out to work from in working out best practices and how to minimise the cost of exploitation while maximising the economic benefit of increased consumer confidence from added rights (see above comments about making it easier to take a punt on a game on Steam due to this new consumer right).

How many games do you think you'll be pirating via Steam refunds? You get one game, play it in 90 minutes and then grab a refund. A week later you do it again with a different game. A week later you... wait, your Steam account has been locked down and you're no longer able to buy anything on the store. Maybe Valve even feel vindictive and you've got VAC bans stopping you playing the online games attached to your account. Well, that was fun while it lasted (shame you can't use your credit card in Steam any more, or any 3rd parties Valve share the fact you're a scammer with). The system works and people learn not to try and pirate games via digital storefronts.

#4 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

Steam refund quote - " maybe you played the title for an hour and just didn't like it." then " If it appears to us that you are abusing refunds, we may stop offering them to you." Huh? What?

If someone is using the service to play games without paying for them then they'll have the ability to buy new games or get further refunds removed from their account/payment details. This is abuse. The occasional title that you buy based on advertising/store copy that makes it sound good but ends up not being for you (as discovered within minutes of playing it) can be refunded but you can't make a habit of it.

If you don't like a game and want a refund then you have the legal right to it (in locations like all of Europe - English language of EU directive) and, more importantly, the economic system of trade is greased by consumer rights that allow people to buy things at a distance without fear of being scammed. It benefits developers to have people able to buy their game without having to do the labour of satisfying themselves they are not about to be scammed. This increases the number of satisfied customers.

Those who want to steal games already have torrents that don't have weeks of delays in processing refunds, handing over payment info, and a 2 hour time limit. Those who don't want to pay will not use a worse system to steam from developers.

#5 Edited by Shivoa (689 posts) -

@chaser324 said:

I can definitely see the upside on this from a consumer perspective, but the response I'm seeing on the dev side is pretty much universally negative and concerned about potential abuses of this system.

I realize that being able to explain a new policy in a few concise bullet points is nice and consumer friendly, but it leaves a ton of room for developers to speculate about all of the ways it can be abused. You'd think Valve would consult developers about these policies prior to release or provide a more nuanced explanation to them, but the reality is that they don't do either.

That consultation might have been "we can do this, or we can stop selling games in the majority of the world where consumer rights exist that mandate a functional refund policy - your choice".

#6 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -
@mister_v said:

Alex just re tweeted this. Seems like it could be an issue for really short games. Not sure how they would get around that?

It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how a retail system works. As in our current economic system of purchasing goods. There has always been the need for the right to a refund for defective goods (and on distance sales where the consumer cannot examine the item before purchase that means they need to receive the item before working out if it is defective) and this has been enshrined in laws like the Distance Selling Regulations. Saying "my business would be better if consumers didn't have rights" is not a radical position but it is also highly regressive and clearly anti-consumer. I'm not sure what US laws are like but in most Western nations we have these consumer rights to grease the cogs of the economy (if I am not afraid of being scammed then I will be more likely to make purchases and the economy is less burdened by the labour of meticulous examination of goods before purchase (to avoid being scammed by a defective product)).

Amazon offer refunds. If you try and abuse that system then you'll find Amazon have no legal requirement to sell goods to you. Your account is banned, the credit card you used and possibly even the address you got things delivered to is backlisted and Amazon eat the small loss on finding out you're a (in games terms) dirty pirate. Abusing a refund system to get access to copyrighted content you're not paying for is piracy. This form of piracy actually seems far more hazardous than looking for torrents. How many games do you think you'll be pirating via Steam refunds? You get one game, play it in 90 minutes and then grab a refund. A week later you do it again with a different game. A week later you... wait, your Steam account has been locked down and you're no longer able to buy anything on the store. Maybe Valve even feel vindictive and you've got VAC bans stopping you playing the online games attached to your account. Well, taht was fun while it lasted. The system works and people learn not to try and pirate games via digital storefronts.

Note that stores like Origin and GOG already offer refund policies like this. Mainly because trying to evade distance selling regulations by treating games as a service and not a product is somewhat questionable legally and none of these stores want the EU deciding they need to have a stern talking to (which would mandate an any-reason refund any time in the first 7 days or the first 3 months if the user could show that any of the storefront advertising/copy was inaccurate).

#7 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

Welcome Austin.

Have loved the bits of your previous writing which I've run into in various places so I'm really glad you're finding a home at GB (and look forward to getting better acquainted with your stuff).

#8 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -
#9 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

So this is the first time Sony aren't developing any games for the PC since the mid-90s (barely after the PlayStation brand existed in the West).

That's a pretty significant change for that company, even if they were always keeping SOE as very much a thing separate from the main SCEx groups.

#10 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

A fashionably late GotY 2014 blog post (although it could also be a timely mini-review for this month's PS+ offering of First Light) [Just too last for last week's round-up].