Update: We reported a few minutes ago that Ark refunds were being allowed on Steam regardless of how long players had owned the game, or how many hours they had played. That was true for a while today, but Valve has fixed the issue, and the standard refund rules appear to be back in effect. Well, that's what I get for taking the time to test it out myself and attempting to obtain comments from the developers and Valve. I was late to the party with this story. Sorry, everyone!
Original story: A post on Reddit today claimed that Steam was allowing players to receive refunds for Ark: Survival Evolved—and that those refund requests were being honored no matter how long ago they bought the game or how long they had played it.
While the Steam refund policy typically only allows refunds if a game has been bought within the past 14 days and has been played for under two hours, several Redditors chimed in to say that they had received refunds even though they had purchased Ark in Early Access months or even years ago, and had played it for dozens of hours.
I asked another member of PC Gamer to attempt to refund Ark, and sure enough he received one despite having purchased the game in Early Access way back in 2015 and having nearly 30 hours of playtime logged.
Attempts to obtain a refund for the Scorched Earth DLC, according to at least one person on Reddit, were not successful. Refunds also don't appear to work for those who bought Ark as part of a bundle or from other key retailers.
It's currently unknown if the Ark refunds are intended by Studio Wildcard and Valve—a resetting of the refund time-frame window, as it were, since Ark left Early Access today. If intentional, I don't know if this is part of a wider policy to honor refund requests when a game leaves Early Access for full release, regardless of the date of purchase or number of hours played.
It seems a bit ripe for abuse: if someone has played Ark for dozens or hundreds of hours, asking for refund doesn't exactly feel fair at this point, but I don't make the rules, I just spend a lot of time staring at Reddit.
I have asked for more info from Valve and Ark's developers, and will update this post if and when I hear back.