Do you remember Rust? There’s a good chance you do. It happens to be one of those indie darlings. People get dropped into an area with nothing and do all they can to survive for as long as they possibly can. It’s quite a good game. But, not everyone has enjoyed their time with it. Which is why Garry Newman, the game’s creator, has refunded 329,970 copies and $4,382,032.
That’s a really large number, right? It is accurate though! Newman says that is the amount given back due to Steam Refunds. It is only 6% of the total sales, as over 5.5 million copies total have been sold so far, so it isn’t as though Facepunch Studios, the company behind the game, is hurting. But these numbers show something important. It is an example of how well the refund system works for developers, distributors, and fans.
Clearly, Rust and other games on Steam where people are making use of the refund system are still successful. There are various measures in place there, just as there eventually will be through Microsoft’s digital Xbox and Windows storefronts. The developers and distributors are protected by such measures. Though there will be people who treat the refund service as a way of getting an extended free demo or trial of a game, there will likely be an even larger number using it as intended. Though over 300,000 copies and $4 million are huge numbers, it really does only come out to 6% of Rust’s total sales.
And why do people ask for refunds? It varies. In the case of the Rust example from before, Newman says people were saying it wasn’t fun. Or wasn’t fun for them, to be specific. Which he acknowledges is fine and a valid reason for a return. With games, we often don’t know until we get that hands-on time. Not every game has a demo, after all. Since digital products don’t have something tangible we can hold before hand as we think, we need this option.
Especially since refunds are so important to consumers. When it comes to digital products, it is the only recourse we have. It isn’t like a physical copy, where we could return something to a store or resell it. Especially if we were to pre-order ahead of launch and learn the horrible truth: a game is unfinished or unenjoyable. Knowing we have that option assures us as gamers that things will be all right. It might even encourage creators to do a better job, since they know we could always get our money back.
Refunds are a godsend. With digital games, they’re the only way people can really recover from a bad game purchase. Applying for a refund provides tangible feedback to developers and distributors. As long as the proper guidelines are in place, everyone benefits. One can only hope the practice will spread to systems like the PlayStation 4 and Switch.