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. This tutorial should make Steam refunds easier.
Table of Contents
- Here’s how Steam refunds operate in a nutshell:
- Can a request for a game that is not accessible within the 14-day/two-hour time period be made?
- Are there any limitations on how many games you can refund?
- Do you have the right to appeal a refund denial?
- How long does it take for funds to appear when a refund is granted?
- How much of the refund process is computerized?
- What is Valve and its developers’ financial plan regarding refunds?
- Can a notice be issued for refunding an excessive number of games?
- Can I farm games for achievements and cards and then receive a refund?
- How has Steam’s new gifting system affected refunds?
- Can I return only one game purchased in one transaction?
- Frequently Asked Questions
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 would appreciate a refund,” she replies, before asking for payment via Steam Wallet or another method. You can then choose a payment method to receive your refund.
- If you request a refund within 14 days of purchase and have played for less than two hours, your request is likely to be automatically approved.
- Returns are made within a week.
Can a request for a game that is not accessible within the 14-day/two-hour time period be made?
Yes, Valve will review each refund request individually. Refund requests made after the 14-day deadline will not be approved.
Are there any limitations on how many games you can refund?
You can request as many Steam refund as you like but if Valve suspect you of abusing the system your ability to do so may be restricted.
Do you have the right to appeal a refund denial?
Yes.You can resubmit your refund request to another Valve employee if you think it was wrongly denied. In some cases, having fresh eyes on the case may be enough to grant approval.
How long does it take for funds to appear when a refund is granted?
Refunds are typically processed within seven days of acceptance, though international payment method returns may take longer. Steam provides some refund statistics to the public for reference.
How much of the refund process is computerized?
Valve states that any refund request submitted within 14 days of purchase for a game with less than two hours of play will be automatically approved. If you request multiple refunds in short succession or exceeds the 14-day/two-hour restriction, your request won’t be approved automatically and must be manually reviewed by a Valve employee.
What is Valve and its developers’ financial plan regarding refunds?
The game creator does not receive Steam revenue. Valve does not distribute sales proceeds to developers until after the end of the calendar month following each transaction, meaning money from May sales won’t be received until May. Furthermore, refunds on Steam typically occur before 14 days have elapsed since there isn’t enough time for developers to see if there was ever a sale at all;
Can a notice be issued for refunding an excessive number of games?
Yes, if you request multiple refunds within a short timeframe, Valve will issue a warning with each ticket stating that the refund mechanism should not be used for demo games. While there is no official limit to how many games can be refunded before receiving this message, it appears to occur after five refunds in six months. The standard warning message reads as follows:
Recent refund requests indicate you may need more than what we currently offer. We have the right to decline future refund requests if we detect system misuse while testing games.
Can I farm games for achievements and cards and then receive a refund?
Refunds were initially unpopular when Steam introduced them, but Valve has since addressed the problem by altering their Trading Card system in two key ways. The first modification prevents card duplication until after two hours of gameplay; after which point automatic refunds become ineligible. This ban initially applied to all Steam users; however, Valve has since limited it to new accounts and those who had claimed a refund within the past several months.
Valve made two modifications to the trading card system, preventing games from dropping cards immediately after release on Steam. Instead, before cards begin falling, a game must gather enough owners and participants – or “confidence meter,” as Valve refers to it – before dropping any cards. This helps reduce fake games released solely with the purpose of collecting trading cards; for less popular titles this could mean cards won’t start dropping until after 14-day refund periods have elapsed.
Although you are allowed to request a refund outside the two-hour/14-day refund window, Valve may block you from doing so in the future if you repeatedly abuse this privilege by seeking refunds on farm cards.
Achievements can be gained anytime within the two-hour refund period.
How has Steam’s new gifting system affected refunds?
Since May 2017, Steam’s gifting of games has taken on a new approach. Instead of appearing as items in your inventory, gifts must now be sent or scheduled to one of your friends at purchase. If they decline the gift, you will be refunded and the game won’t appear in your inventory; on the other hand, gifts received through gifting remain unchanged from before.
Can I return only one game purchased in one transaction?
Yes, but this can be a complicated technique. This only applies if you buy many individual games in one transaction, not a bundle.
Start by refunding the purchase to your Steam Wallet. If you want to refund to a credit card or other payment method, return the entire transaction or nothing. Don’t get distracted by Steam listing each game from the transaction in your refund request; that should match up with what amount should be credited back into your wallet. It may seem like an involved process but once authorized, those titles will be removed from your library and the money refunded back into your Steam wallet – though it could take some effort!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a refund be issued for gifts purchased for someone else?
Yes, provided the recipient has not yet used their present.
Can a return be made for an already used gift?
Yes, but the gift recipient must initiate the refund request. It must be done within 14 days and two hours of receiving the goods.. Once they’ve started their own refund request, you may submit your own.
Can a package refund be obtained?
Yes, bundles with nonrefundable DLC may qualify for refunds; Steam will inform you of this when making your purchase.
Can a single game be returned as part of a bundle?
No, refunds are only available for full packages.
Can I receive a refund for Dota 2 and the time spent growing creeps?
No, not at all. Every hour spent playing Dota 2 is legally Valve’s property and they may or may not use it to sell hats in the future.
Can you return a game if it goes on sale?
Yes, but you may need to cover the lower charge yourself since refunds can take up to seven days to process.
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