Valve isn't making special exceptions to its refund policy for No Man's Sky

Over the weekend, a Reddit post went up claiming that Steam was offering refunds for No Man’s Sky regardless of playtime. It quickly gained popularity, becoming one of the most upvoted posts on the entire site, and while it’s not a lie—it is possible to get a refund for No Man’s Sky whether you’ve played one hour or 40—the headline is misleading players. Valve has not made an exception to its automatic refund policy for No Man’s Sky, and because of the number of players looking for one, Valve dropped a PSA on the NMS store page to clear the air. 

As their policy states, Valve will automatically refund any game for any reason only if “the request is made within fourteen days of purchase, and the title has been played for less than two hours.” Because of the Reddit thread, a growing contingent of players are under the impression that No Man’s Sky is an exception to the two-hour rule, generally based on claims of false advertising and technical issues with the port. This is not the case. No Man’s Sky is not eligible for automatic refunds beyond two hours in, but, like every Steam game, you can still appeal for a refund regardless of playtime.

It seems because of the concerted effort in a thread with over 5,000 upvotes and how-to articles from multiple publications and YouTubers that some players have found success in their refund appeals—but again, this is only because of their direct appeals to customer service, not a wider exemption. Right now, it's unclear how many refunds have been issued, and we may never know. But based on the massive success of NMS’s launch, it’s likely the percentage of players that refund the game won’t make much of a dent in its long term performance.

The confusion continues to poke at the flexibility of Steam’s refund policy. In a game as expansive and as heavily marketed as No Man’s Sky, how much playtime is needed to know a refund is necessary? Games are fluid, composed by teams of varying size, with varying budgets, and a wide variety of artistic intent. How much of the burden is on the development team for making a game that aligns with player expectations, and how much is on the player for keeping their expectations in check? If you ask me, the answer for players is simple. Don’t pre-order games. You can’t always trust marketing, but you also can’t always trust your imagination.

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.