GOG expands refund policy, zings Steam


GOG has expanded its refund policy to 30 days worldwide and across the board, a policy that covers games purchased by mistake and those that simply will not run. In a "State of Customer Experience" post that went up yesterday, GOG said that "hitting 'buy' doesn't waive your rights," a clear shot at Valve's far more restrictive refund policies on Steam.

EU law states that consumers have 14 days to withdraw from a purchase—that is, demand a refund—for any reason, or no reason at all. That used to be GOG's policy as well, but it recently took the opportunity to widen the window to 30 days, as long as the game in question hasn't started to download. Furthermore, if a downloaded game won't run and the support team is unable to fix the problem, the 30-day policy applies as well—and the refund timer stops when a user first contacts GOG about the problem.

It's a good policy, but GOG's motives for trumpeting them now aren't entirely altruistic: It came to light earlier this month that Valve had changed the Steam subscriber agreement to skirt the EU rules. As noted by Gamespot, the agreement acknowledges "the right to withdraw from a purchase transaction for digital content without charge and without giving any reason for a duration of fourteen days," but then subverts that right by tacking on, "or until Valve's performance of its obligations has begun... whichever happens sooner."

That last bit means that as soon as you start downloading your game—which happens automatically upon completion of a purchase—you can no longer request a refund. That position is clarified further by a message attached to the "purchase" button in EU countries stating, "By clicking 'Purchase' you agree that Valve provides you immediate access to digital content as soon as you complete your purchase, without waiting the 14-day withdrawal period. Therefore, you expressly waive your right to withdraw from this purchase."

And as Gamespot points out, there's no way to complete a Steam purchase without agreeing to the terms.

There won't be many people, relatively speaking, who will be left out in the cold because of Valve's more restrictive policy, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it declared contrary to EU law at some point in the future. For now, though, if you are a European customer (and without wanting to sound excessively ominous about it), consider yourself warned: EU laws notwithstanding, getting a refund from Steam might be tougher than you expect.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.