THE PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
- What unreleased game of 2020 are you most looking forward to?
- Who is your favorite videogame detective?
- Which NPC bark are you most sick of hearing?
GOG has generously updated its refund policy, allowing 30 days to change your mind no matter how much of a game you've played. They're going to keep an eye on the requests of course, to prevent people from abusing this new system, but it's got us thinking about refunds in general and how we make use of them.
While we're used to being able to return physical products, refunds for digital purchases still feel like fresh ground. Have you made use of any storefront's refund system? What's the last game you refunded? Here are some of our answers, plus a few from our forum members.
Swag and Sorcery
Robin Valentine: It's pretty rare that I request a refund on a game—even games I don't get on with, I tend to optimistically think I might come back to them another time, or that having access to them might prove useful in the future.
A recent exception was a game called Swag and Sorcery. You play a ruler managing a kingdom full of fantasy adventurers, sending them out on quests and stuff - the sort of premise I'm a sucker for. It's cheap and pretty charming to look at so I picked it up on a whim. It turned out to be an incredibly dull and grindy clicker. I mean, I knew going in it was mostly an idle game, but it's a particularly mindless example. I feel bad calling it out but... yeah, it definitely wasn't for me.
After about half an hour it was clear I was never going to touch it again—though at least partly I got a refund just to see how Steam's system works, as I don't think I'd used it before. Turns out it's a super smooth process!
None, but I should have
Jarred Walton: I haven't ever refunded a game that I can recall—not even back in the 80s and 90s when I was young and had no money. But I should have, as I purchased a few real stinkers by mistake over the years. The last really bad (in my opinion, anyway) game that I bought and should have returned was Ultima IX: Ascension. I used to love the Ultima games, but where the previous game was flawed in many ways (it could have been called Ultima VIII: Crusader No Remorse), the last pre-Ultima Online was awful. 3D was new and exciting, and they tried to make the jump and failed. Miserably. I should have learned my lesson the previous year, when King's Quest VIII: Mask of Eternity made an equally bad attempt at 3D. Maybe it was all thanks to those pesky Roman numerals in the names?
Styx: Master of Shadows
Lauren Morton: I've also never really returned a game because I didn't like it. Maybe I'm picky about what I buy. Or just easy to please once I've thrown the cash down. I almost always find something to enjoy. Anyway, a high school friend and I like to play through co-op campaigns together which, lemme tell you, was much easier back in the day before everything was live-service only. A couple years back I wanted us to try Styx, an action stealth game with a fully co-op campaign. But I bought the wrong Styx. The first game, Master of Shadows, has a singleplayer campaign, which I realized after I'd bought us each a copy. Fortunately Microsoft's online support was pretty helpful on that one. I returned two digital copies of Styx: Master of Shadows and bought Styx: Shards of Darkness. Whew.
Morgan Park: I refund games on the regular after giving them a shot. My most recent victim was Outward, a strange RPG that I wanted to love. I'm all about weird survival systems, but there was just a bit too much jank for me. Maybe I'll give it another shot someday.
Christopher Livingston: I buy and try a lot of weird games, strange simulators, extreme Early Access experiments, and other oddities, so I've definitely requested my share of refunds over the years. My most recent was Girl's Civilization, a Mount & Blade clone filled with anime sex dolls. I guess it wasn't completely terrible, though it was pretty buggy and I'm not really into anime upskirt cutscenes. Mainly the reason was that after an hour or so I knew I was never going to play it again, and my Steam library is already filled with hundreds of games I'm never going to play again. I didn't need one more.
Andy Chalk: I loved Homeworld, and so when Homeworld 2 came out I rushed to my not-at-all-local EB Games to pick up my copy (preordered, of course), rushed back home to install it, fired it up, and... it sucked. The mechanics were there but the magic was missing, which in hindsight I can admit was probably inevitable—kind of like how there's one great Star Wars movie and a dozen or so increasingly embarrassing advertisements for toys. (Sorry, collectibles.)
At the time, though, I was not in such an understanding mood. I took it back a few days later (long drive, so making the journey took a little planning) but the guy behind the counter told me that they don't offer refunds on opened software, so the best he could do was give me "trade-in value." I don't remember the exact amount but it was something like 15 or 20 bucks on a $60 game. (Plus tax, mind.) Which was total bullshit, but I was mad, so I did the whole "remove this blight upon my vision" routine and a minute later I walked out with no game and less money back than I'd spent on gas driving to the store. It was definitely one for the "L" column, but even now I can't say I entirely regret it. That game was such a disappointment.
None, because I need to learn
Phil Savage: I've never refunded a game. If I end up with a clunker, like Sonic: Lost World or Trials of the Blood Dragon or Prospekt or Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator or WWE 2K17, it has to stay in my library, as a lesson to myself.
None, but not for lack of trying
Wes Fenlon: I've never refunded a PC game, but I do have an embarrassing return story to tell. One Christmas as a teenager I was given a copy of Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged for the PlayStation 2, which is exactly the edgy name for a trivia game you'd expect from the year 2004, in hindsight. I didn't want it, so I decided to trade it in at GameStop and put the money towards something more hinged. I took the game in still sealed, thinking that would make it worth more. But the store clerk brusquely told me "We can't take that," which I found really confusing. Like, I knew Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged was not worth much money, but was it so bad they wouldn't even try to sell it? I stammered out a "Why?" and she told me that GameStop doesn't take unopened game.
I walked out of the store dumbfounded before realizing that they probably thought it was stolen. That made me mad and a little ashamed, and when I happened to run into a friend in the mall he volunteered to go sell it himself. So he opened up the case, crinkled the manual a bit, and went off to GameStop... where the saleswoman told him that she knew we were working together, and refused to take it. Brilliant deduction! I realized this made me look like even more of a criminal, so I gave up, took my now-beat up copy of Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged home, and played it exactly one time.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Steven Messner: Like everyone else, it's super rare that I actually refund a game. I'm not sure if I've ever done it because I hated a game or anything like that. My most recent return, A Plague Tale, was only because I recently bought it on Steam and then was browsing the Xbox Store and realized I get it for free using my Xbox Game Pass for PC—whoops!
Even then, I still kinda felt bad asking for a refund.
Jody Macgregor: I've never refunded a PC game. But I did refund Rune back in 2001. I bought it on PS2 and found a bug that made chests spawn continually—levels would get overtaken by treasure chests to the point where the whole game would slow down. When I took it back to EB the Xbox fanboy on the counter sniffed at me and said it's what I should expect from a PS2 game, but he gave me my refund anyway. I think I bought a secondhand copy of Wipeout instead. Good times.
Alm: I think it was Ace Combat 7. I had great memories from F22 Interceptor on the Mega Drive but it didn't hit the mark for me and rekindle that nostalgia.
Biggly: Probably waaay back when I was buying physical media. Never done a digital refund, but the new Gog.com refund policy is definitely going to bring me back to their site.
jphishgar: Black Desert Online. Why? I'd heard awesome things about the player economy, buildings, and oodles of stuff that I'm very much into in MMOs. So I dove in, and then discovered gender-locked classes like hitting a brick wall at full speed. While this isn't a deal-breaker for most, and I'm typically not that finicky, this was particularly irksome. This was also when I discovered the unfortunate refund policy of, if you log into the game at all, you couldn't get a refund. That, in an of itself, is plenty justification on my end to abandon.
I'm not sure if this has changed at all, but it was my last refund game. Before that was eons ago for Empire Earth 3.
OsaX Nymloth: I usually don't refund games even if I was a bit disappointed in them. The only one I remember refunding was Civilization VI. I spent a solid amount of hours in Civ V and had fun with it, as with some previous entries. So at some point I decided to buy latest iteration even tho I was vary of the changes - but hey, it was on decent sale. Aaaaaand it didn't click with me at all. Somehow the visual style and UI changes made me just wanting to go back to Civ V.
Frindis: I refunded Assassin's Creed Odyssey standard edition and a month later I decided to buy Assassin's Creed Odyssey Ultimate edition as it was on sale for 74%. The main reason for the refund was because of how they were implementing microtransactions, but after some time I guess I kind of just fell in love with all the videos I kept watching from the game and finally caved in. I am happy I did because I am enjoying the game a lot!
IndecentLouie: I refunded Hatred around a week ago, I didn't find it fun or even satirical. I like twin stick shooters but this one made me nauseous, I disliked the graphics and to be honest gunning down the civilians and cops actually made me feel like a bad person.