Earlier this week, GOG announced a change to its refund policy, giving customers of the DRM-free games store a 30-day refund window. Refunds can be obtained at any point within those 30 days, whether the game has been downloaded and played or not. It is the most generous refund policy of any digital games store to date, but some developers do take issue with it.
The new refund policy is part of GOG’s on-going ‘gamers-first’ approach, placing trust in customers to not abuse the system by mass-refunding or downloading/completing games and then getting the money back. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that this new system could be abused, which has some developers worried, particularly since some developers weren’t consulted about the change before it was announced.
As reported by Eurogamer, several indie developers, including Rami Ismail (Vlambeer), Mike Rose (No More Robots) and Ragnar Tørnquist (Red Thread Games), expressed concerns about the new refund policy and weren’t informed about the change prior to its announcement. Most criticism stems around the fact that these are DRM-free games, meaning while GOG can track the number of downloads per game, it can’t track play time or when a user is playing a game.
With a 30-day refund window, many games could be completed and then refunded. However, David Szymanski, the developer behind indie game Dusk, offers a different perspective, saying that in his experience, refund rates for his games on Steam have been low and for the most part, people seem perfectly willing to spend money on things they like. He also adds that piracy has been an effortless way for people to get hold of games for many years now. It seems less likely that someone would go through the effort of buying, playing and refunding a DRM-free game when they could pirate it instead.
So far, we don’t know what the bigger publishers think about this. Blizzard and Bethesda in particular are notable studios that support GOG with several back-catalogue titles. Those partnerships might be harder to arrange if publishers are scared of the refund system.
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KitGuru Says: As much as I support GOG’s DRM-free and consumer friendly approach, 30 day refunds might be a tad much. Then again, the piracy argument is also an interesting one, as it seems that people would be less likely to buy a game just to refund it instead of just pirating it in the first place. What do you all think of GOG’s new refund policy? Is this a good move, or is the system too easy to abuse?