Steam Refunds Are Punitive towards Developers of Bad Games
It has been a long time in coming, but Steam has finally implemented a long-desired refunds system, and it is beyond generous. If for any reason customers are unhappy with their purchase they may request a refund during a fourteen day period after the purchase, providing that the game has been played for less than two hours. Not only does this empower players to demo games they are uncertain about, it also allows players to return then re-buy a game if there is a price change shortly after launch. All in all this is a proactively consumer focused reform which benefits anyone looking to buy games on Steam.
“You can request a refund for nearly any purchase on Steam—for any reason. Maybe your PC doesn’t meet the hardware requirements; maybe you bought a game by mistake; maybe you played the title for an hour and just didn’t like it.
It doesn’t matter. Valve will, upon request via help.steampowered.com, issue a refund for any reason, if the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours. There are more details below, but even if you fall outside of the refund rules we’ve described, you can ask for a refund anyway and we’ll take a look.”
Reputable developers also see this as a positive turn of events, as customers will now be more inclined to purchase games that they may have been uncertain about with the full confidence of knowing that they are eligible for a full refund if for any reason they find themselves unsatisfied. Thomas Was Alone creator, Mike Bithell, appears to be happy with Steam’s decision to empower consumers, and seems confident in his ability to win over consumers with the quality of his games:
“Steam refund changes look to be a very cool thing.. I dig players coming to my games confident and comfortable. I’ll earn your business.”
Sadly, [yet predictably] this was not a view shared by the blue-haired social justice clique of the the San Francisco Bay area, since the duration of their games rarely exceeds an hour of playtime, and they are never fun enough for repeat playthroughs, seeing as ‘fun’ is a concept that many of them do not believe in. This in itself would not be a fatal blow if the audience for preachy non-games was as conscientious as they like to pretend to be, yet so few of them even game in the first place, and those that do are likely extremely money conscious on account of San Francisco accommodation rentals not coming cheap – SocJus developers must be shitting themselves that their hand-wringing morally superior audience will just cheap-out and return their games after completing them! One such individual is Nina Freeman, an employee of Fullbright [makers of Gone Home], who went on a lengthy Twitter rant against Valve for allowing player refunds on the basis of game time:
“you can get a refund for a game if you’ve got “less than two hours of playtime” on steam. well lol at me trying to sell small vignette games
guess my small games aren’t welcome to be sold on steam lol
stop making excuses for valve in my mentions. this shit is a big slap in the face to people who make small games and you can’t deny that.
people have been asking why i don’t try to sell small games in bundles on steam to avoid the refund issue… so here’s why i don’t:
when designing small games, i don’t usually design them to be in a bundle. i want them to stand alone and i design them as such
i don’t think designing small games to be bundled is a bad idea, i just don’t personally want to do that
i’m also not an advocate of grouping vignette games under the umbrella of “mini games”, which i associate w/ bundles…so no bundling for me”
Helpful Twitter users suggested to Freeman that she can group her pretentious vignette games into a bundle in order to exceed two hours of playtime, but of course she refuses on the basis that they were not designed to be in a bundle, preferring to continue sniping at Valve over this self-imposed problem. If a game has so little content as to be consumed in under two hours, then what business does it even have being sold on Steam? It seems that an awful lot of these complaints would be remedied by simply offering more value to customers.
Not being one to let a situation go without capitalising on the victim narrative, Brianna Wu then added his voice to the fray while linking to Freeman’s tweets on the issue:
“Wow. @hentaiphd nails the problem with Steam refunds. They are brutally unfair for indie developers.”
Her story was then picked up by the infamous Nathan Grayson of Kotaku, who preceded to pen an article moaning about the introduction of Steam Refunds. In it Nina Freeman serves as the basis of the article, which goes on to link to three of Freeman’s games without ever once disclosing her close friendship with Nathan Grayson. The article goes on to quote Freeman on a related issue which actually sheds quite a bit of light on her grievances with Valve:
“What I find most insulting is just how little respect Steam seems to have for smaller games. They also don’t let you write reviews for games that you’ve played for less than five minutes. So like, I put freshman year on Steam, and it barely has reviews because no one wants to play such a sad thing twice just to write a review. They basically just keep doing things that say they don’t care about small games succeeding on their platform, which is bad because they’re one of the biggest and most important platforms for releasing games.
I’m sure there are benefits, it just feels like Steam is always doing things that are based on play time, which reinforces the idea that games should be a certain length, which is obviously an unhealthy expectation.”
Games should absolutely be a certain length if they are being sold as products to gamers. In the above quote Freeman can be seen to be upset with the current user review system, as would-be reviewers are required to have played a game for at least five minutes before reviewing it, and the game she has produced is too miserable for most people to want to go through twice. This right here is why Steam’s refund system poses a problem to SocJus indie developers: They make short games that are not fun to play. It is not Steam’s fault that indie products are so oppressively bleak as to discourage anybody from playing them – that is something that the developer has one-hundred percent control over. On what basis do these clowns think that consumers should be denied a refund after suffering through such bleak and introspective dross? One is of the opinion that short titles like Gone Home and Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes are precisely the sort of products that absolutely should be harmed by Steam’s refund system, as they offer a very poor value proposition to customers. Perhaps now the SocJus clique will not be quite so derisively dismissive of the concept of ‘fun’, as they will no longer be able to capitalise on unwitting customers buying their wares and being saddled with lemons. Time to make games good, guys!
Not Content to be a Mere Douche, Cliffy B IS Gaming’s Benedict Arnold
The past week has seen the Steam release of Hatred, a game that is selling phenomenally well even in spite of the fact that it is largely held to be a little mediocre. The reason for this is quite simply Yiannopoulos’ Law of Heckle Shekels, which is to say that the more that puritanical would-be censors attack a product for being immoral, the more attractive that product will seem to regular people. As it turns out the content of Hatred is actually fairly mild, and certainly a far cry from the macabre dismemberment on display in Mortal Kombat X, yet the title is still being pounced upon by virtually every social justice douchebag on the internet as an example of a game that should not be made. The latest such douchebag is the notorious Cliffy B.
“All it’s going to take is one sensationalist news outlet to get their hands on Hatred and we’re back in 1996 Jack Thompson era for games.”
Firstly, who gives a fuck? If the gaming industry was set back by twenty years then we would all be playing Chrono Trigger for the first time. Secondly, we currently are living through another Jack Thompson era, only it is Cliffy B’s own pals who are perpetrating this attack on gaming, and this time around gaming sites are not there to stick up for gamers, seeing as they are being used as weapons to punish gamers for their wrongthink.
Cliffy B’s brother, Tyler Bleszinski, founded Vox Media. If that name sounds familiar it is only because it is the parent company of Polygon and The Verge, two sites that have made belittling gamers and pushing for more censorship their signature calling card. These jackals are busy colluding with what should be competing publications in order to flood the internet with mean-spirited ‘gamers are dead’ articles, and yet we as gamers should be deathly afraid of the resurrection of Jack Thompson’s ghost? Fuck off, Cliffy! The guy shills almost as much as he complains about review scores. Hatred may not have turned out as well as one might have hoped, but it still deserves to exist, and to exist free from the censorship that Bleszinski seems so keen to foist upon it.
Final Fantasy XV Script Now Being Penned by Dissidia Writer
The week has seen Square Enix disclose some rather unexpected news regarding Final Fantasy XV. Perhaps the most iconic imagery associated with what was then known as Final Fantasy Versus XV was the scene where Noct meets Stella at a crowded party, both of which have now been stripped from the game. According to director Hajime Tabata changes made to the game’s narrative required that Stella’s role within the game change, and rather than simply altering the role of Stella’s character within the world, the team instead chose to completely scrap the character and begin again from scratch, creating the new character Lunafreya.
“We wanted to keep her as a heroine in FFXV’s story, and pursued ways to tie her in to FFXV’s design as well, but we found it increasingly difficult to make sense of Stella’s character and role within FFXV, so then we thought, do we want to recreate Stella with a different role and image, or do we want to start over with a new hreoine? And after a lot of consideration, we decided not to include Stella in FFXV. Instead, we have a new heroine named Luna, who has a different role within the story. So we will be talking more about her in the future.”
One cannot help but picture Stella being run through by Sephiroth with his masamune – cue the sad music. It is quite perplexing quite why Square Enix felt they needed to create a completely new character when the design of Stella could have just been re-purposed, seeing as it was a more pleasing design.
At any rate, massive changes are being made to the Final Fantasy XV script, that much is obvious. This is nothing unusual in Final Fantasy games, as Final Fantasy VII was originally going to be a detective story set in New York City until the death of Hironobu Sakaguchi’s mother caused him to create the concept underpinning the lifestream: Gaia Theory. The fact that Final Fantasy XV is being redrafted is not cause for alarm, but the person who is overseeing these changes certainly is. Tetsuya Nomura was originally credited with developing the game’s base story while Kuzushige Nojima [the scenario writer for Final Fantasy VII] was credited as being the scenario writer. However, Kazushige Nojima is now being credited for the game’s base story, while Saori Itamuro, the writer behind Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, is now being credited with writing the game’s scenario – because the Dissidia games are widely known for the quality of their writing. And with that Square Enix has successfully managed to obliterate the last remaining piece of good news regarding Final Fantasy XV‘s development. This is horrible.