Steam refunds: A detailed examination of the Steam refund policy, including how the regulations work and what you should know about getting your money back.
When Valve launched the Steam refund system in 2015, it pledged to make purchasing digital games as simple as purchasing any other tangible item. You could get your money back quickly and easily without having to trade a novel’s worth of emails with customer service if a game didn’t operate as advertised, wasn’t as advertised, or was just plain bad.
Steam refunds have struggled to uphold that promise over the last two years. Even Valve’s own Steam refund FAQ only goes through the basics of what you can and can’t refund, missing a number of important questions that Steam users have.
- That’s why we’ve created our Steam refund primer, which can be thought of as a more advanced version of our FAQ.
- It decodes the most problematic aspects of Steam’s refund mechanism, using information from Valve’s incoherent FAQ, official Steam Support forum comments, and talks with game developers. Now that you’ve read this guide, getting a Steam refund should be a lot easier.
Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s how Steam refunds operate in a nutshell:
- 1.1 Is it possible to make a request for a game that isn’t accessible within the 14-day/two-hour time frame?
- 1.2 Is there a limit to how many games you can refund?
- 1.3 If your refund is denied, do you have the right to challenge the decision?
- 1.4 How long does it take for the money to arrive when a refund is granted?
- 1.5 How much of the refund process is computerized?
- 1.6 What is the financial plan for refunds at Valve and the developers?
- 1.7 Is it feasible to get a notice for refunding an excessive number of games?
- 1.8 Is it feasible to farm games for accomplishments and cards and then receive a refund?
- 1.9 How has Steam’s new gifting system affected refunds?
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- 2.1 Is it possible to receive a refund for a gift you purchased for someone else?
- 2.2 Is it possible to get a return on an already used gift?
- 2.3 Is it possible to only return one of the games bought in one transaction?
- 2.4 Is it feasible to get a package refund?
- 2.5 Is it possible to receive a refund for a single game purchased as part of a bundle?
- 2.6 Is it possible to return a game and get a refund if it goes on sale after you’ve bought it?
- 2.7 Is it possible to get a refund for Dota 2 as well as the time I spent growing creeps?
Here’s how Steam refunds operate in a nutshell:
On the Steam support website, go to “Purchases” and choose the game you want to refund.
- “I’d like a refund,” she says, before adding, “I’d like to request a refund.” After that, you can choose whether your refund should be paid to your Steam Wallet or another payment method.
- If you request a refund within 14 days of purchase and have played for less than two hours, your request will be automatically approved.
- Within a week, your purchase will be returned to you.
Is it possible to make a request for a game that isn’t accessible within the 14-day/two-hour time frame?
Yes, and Valve will examine it on a case-by-case basis. The refund will be rejected if it is sought after the 14-day deadline has ended.
Is there a limit to how many games you can refund?
Not at all.You can request as many refunds as you want through Steam, but if Valve suspects you of abusing the system, your ability to do so in the future may be withdrawn.
If your refund is denied, do you have the right to challenge the decision?
Yes. If you believe your refund was wrongfully denied, you can submit a new request, which will be examined by a different Valve employee. It’s possible that a fresh set of eyes will be enough to get it approved.
How long does it take for the money to arrive when a refund is granted?
The majority of refunds are processed within seven days of acceptance, while international payment method returns may take longer. Steam publishes some refund statistics for the general public.
How much of the refund process is computerized?
According to Valve, any refund request submitted within 14 days of purchase for a game with less than two hours of play would be automatically authorized. If you’ve requested many refunds in a short period of time, or if your refund exceeds the 14-day/two-hour restriction, it won’t be authorized automatically and will be manually reviewed by a Valve employee.
What is the financial plan for refunds at Valve and the developers?
The money you spend on Steam does not go directly to the game’s creator. Valve does not distribute sales proceeds to developers until the end of the calendar month following the transaction, so money from January sales will not be received until February. Developers don’t lose money on refunds because they never saw the sale in the first place because the Steam refund window is generally short of 14 days.
Is it feasible to get a notice for refunding an excessive number of games?
Yes. If you seek multiple refunds in a short period of time, Valve will issue a warning with your refund ticket, stating that the refund mechanism should not be used to demo games. While there is no official number for how many games you can refund before receiving the warning, it appears to occur after five refunds in six months. The standard warning message is as follows:
You’ve requested a number of refunds recently. Please keep in mind that refunds are not an option while trying out games. If we suspect the refund mechanism is being misused, we will refuse to grant future refunds. “
Is it feasible to farm games for accomplishments and cards and then receive a refund?
This was a concern when Steam refunds were originally introduced, but Valve addressed the issue by changing the Steam Trading Card system in two major ways. The first change postspones the dumping of cards until you’ve played for at least two hours, after which you won’t be eligible for an automatic refund. This ban initially applied to all Steam users, but Valve has since limited it to new accounts and those who have claimed a refund in the last several months.
The second change Valve made to the trading card system was to make it such that games can no longer drop cards as soon as they are available on Steam. Rather, before the cards begin to fall, a game must gather a certain number of owners and participants. This “confidence meter,” as Valve refers to it, varies from game to game and is intended to reduce the number of “fake” games released solely to gather trading cards. This could mean that cards won’t start dropping until the 14-day refund period for less popular games has expired.
While you can request a refund outside of the two-hour/14-day refund window, if you abuse this by seeking refunds on farm cards, Valve may block you from doing so in the future.
Achievements, on the other hand, have no such limitations and can be obtained at any moment throughout the two-hour refund period.
How has Steam’s new gifting system affected refunds?
Since the beginning of May 2017, gifting games on Steam has been a little different. Instead of appearing as items in your inventory, gifts must now be sent or scheduled to one of your Steam friends at the moment of purchase. If a friend declines your gift, you will be refunded and the game will not appear in your inventory. Gifts, on the other hand, are refunded in the same manner as before.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to receive a refund for a gift you purchased for someone else?
Yes, as long as the person for whom you purchased the present has not yet utilized it.
Is it possible to get a return on an already used gift?
Yes, but the refund request must be initiated by the gift recipient. The request must be submitted within 14 days of receiving the gift, and the recipient must not have played the game for more than two hours. Once the receiver has started the refund request on their end, you’ll be able to submit your own refund request.
Is it possible to only return one of the games bought in one transaction?
Yes, but it’s a complicated technique. Keep in mind that this only applies if you purchase a large number of individual games in one transaction, not if you purchase a large number of games in a bundle.
To begin, refund the purchase to your Steam Wallet—if you want to refund to a credit card or another external payment method, you must refund the entire transaction or nothing. Then, rather than reviewing the refund’s total sum, ignore the fact that Steam will mention every game from the transaction in your refund request. This should be the same as the total amount you want returned for the games. After they’ve been authorized, just those titles will be deleted from your library, and the money you paid for them will be credited to your Steam wallet. It’s a long and winding process, but it works.
Is it feasible to get a package refund?
Yes, as long as the cumulative playtime of the bundle’s games does not exceed two hours. Certain bundles containing non-refundable DLC may not be eligible for a refund, which Steam will inform you of when you make your purchase.
Is it possible to receive a refund for a single game purchased as part of a bundle?
Not at all.Refunds are only available for full packages.
Is it possible to return a game and get a refund if it goes on sale after you’ve bought it?
Yes, but you may have to pay the lower charge out of pocket because refunds might take up to seven days to process.
Is it possible to get a refund for Dota 2 as well as the time I spent growing creeps?
Not at all. Every hour you spend playing Dota 2 is legally Valve’s property, which they may or may not use to sell hats in the future.