We’re living in an increasing digital world. There are all sorts of apps, games, and programs we buy on a weekly, sometimes even daily, basis. Storefronts, like Google Play and iTunes, were among the first to offer quick and easy refunds on digital games. Soon, Steam followed with its own method of digital returns. Now, Microsoft is turning up as the latest one with an opportunity to quickly and efficiently get your money back when something doesn’t meet your expectations.
Had you heard about this? The Xbox Insider Program has an alpha test for Self-Service Refunds right now. Meet the right conditions, and you can get your money back for a game you bought from the Xbox Online Store. It’s quick, easy, and shows Microsoft really cares about making the shopping experience as effortless and enjoyable as possible for the consumer. It’s also a sign that this sort of service should be in place in every system’s digital storefront.
Each year, Microsoft, Sony, and even Nintendo are doing more and more to make their online shopping options more attractive. There are various sales, sometimes even flash sales. There are cross-buy opportunities. Loyalty programs are offering coupons just for you. Things are being better organized and optimized. Yet, it’s only Microsoft that is making this first move to make it easy to return a digital game. Which is crazy, because it’s certainly easy enough to return physical copies of games. If its sealed, you can take it back immediately. If it’s opened and purchased from the right store, say a GameStop, you have a little leeway allowing you what is essentially the opportunity to return something that didn’t meet your expectations.
This sort of measure should be in place for digital games for many practical reasons. Sometimes, a game is only available digitally and without a demo. You don’t know if a game you buy in the PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, or eShop will meet your expectations. It takes trying it to see if it was really worth buying it. Microsoft’s Self-Service Refund says if you’ve had it under two weeks and played it less than two hours, it’s fine to get your money back. That’s totally reasonable. What if you pre-ordered, in case you wanted that sweet digital incentive? Maybe there was a launch deal? This program lets you take up such offers, but then go back when buyer’s remorse sets in. It makes sense. It isn’t like you’re returning it after completing the game. You’re doing so after a reasonable amount of time. Microsoft gets that, and Sony and Nintendo should too.
What about when someone buys a digital game without your knowledge? It’s happened to all of us. These storefronts have digital wallets and our credit card information saved right there. Who hasn’t accidentally let a friend or family member use their system, not realizing they the person was logged into your account and suddenly bought something you do not want with your money? Microsoft’s new program, which isn’t all that different from Steam’s, gives you an easy out. Sony and Nintendo should offer that same failsafe.
It isn’t like it would be too difficult a process to implement. Steam has a method for shoppers to get refunds. Microsoft is putting one together. Google and Apple do too. Surely, Sony and Nintendo could work such a thing out. I mean, we’re fine with restrictions. Both Microsoft and Valve have such things in place to ensure the system isn’t being abused. We know that we’d only request a refund when it was deserved, and not use it to get to try every game for free. We accept that people who would be stupid and try and scheme the system should be punished for it.
The time has come for all gaming digital storefronts to show people the same respect that Steam, and soon Microsoft, do. Having the ability to return something swiftly and easily, especially if it can be shown that we haven’t really played it and are making the return within a week or two week period, seems like a courtesy everyone should be extended. We deserve it, and hopefully at least Sony will step up to make sure the PlayStation Store follows in Steam and the Xbox Store’s footsteps.