»By playing this game, you agree to terminate it first before requesting a refund. Unless you’re a coward.”
With these words, an independent developer is challenging players on Steam to play with his first act of “Give Me Back If You Can” in a couple of hours. Of course, this time period is not chosen arbitrarily – it corresponds to 2 hours in the Steam redemption agreement. In this article, we explain what the experience is all about and why the game indicates a long-standing problem.
What is it all about?
Refund Me If You Can is a small standalone project that you can buy on Steam for only €3.99. Your goal: to escape from a scary maze. Sound easy? However, on your way to freedom, you have to fight your way through over 100 different tracks and paths – but only one actually leads to the exit.
And of course you’re not alone: while you stumble through dark corridors and allow yourself to spray sonic jump scares, the beast is still breathing down your neck. “Don’t get caught by a monster,” the developer wrote on Steam. “One last tip: never stay in the same position for more than 45 seconds.”
Your stay in the maze is tracked throughout the game and you can see how much time you’ve actually wasted in the top right corner. If you cannot complete the game within 2 hours, your chance of achieving the achievement “You survived the nightmare” will also expire – you will lose the developer challenge. The achievement is currently unlocked by only 24 percent of all players.
Funny challenge or scathing criticism?
Such challenges have of course found food for YouTubers and streamers. Since its launch on July 22nd, the how-to videos of the game on YT have garnered thousands of views. But why get a refund if you can get the players’ attention?
After all, it is a small game that cannot be persuaded with its overly complex mechanics, graphics or soundscapes, and is even insulted in the comments as a “waste of time”.
Link to YouTube content
Challenge or not, however, the game draws attention to an issue that game developers and indie gamers have dealt with for years: Steam’s refund policy. The Valve Agreement states:
The Steam refund policy applies to all games and software applications in the Steam Store for purchases made within two weeks of purchase and less than two hours of play.
However, in the past, problems associated with this exact time window have already been revealed. For independent developers whose games have a maximum playing time of two hours, this often means that Steam users can play through their entire projects and then immediately redeem them.
Such a system violation surfaced less than a week after refunds were submitted. Indie developer Qwiboo released statistics at the time to show that since the start of the redemption program, 72 percent of all purchases of their game Beyond Gravity have been refunded.
But not only from the standpoint of independent developers, there are always obstacles in the system. The release of Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2020 has generated critical voices from the community. At the time of release, the simulator was simply inoperable for many due to technical issues.
Problem: Download started via Xbox player and this was already counting playtime on Steam. Thus, the right to a refund has expired before players can play in it. Shortly thereafter, Valve gave everything clear and promised a refund even if it took more than two hours to download.
By the way, we actually spoke to the lawyers for a report and asked them what options are available to you if Steam refuses to return:
What can you do if Steam refuses to refund – this is what lawyers say
We’re interested in your opinion: How do you feel about Steam’s refund policy? Have you ever had problems with this? And did you try a refund if you could on your own – if so, did you do it in less than two hours? Write it to us in the comments!
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